Understand College Admissions

Supply accurate and complete information on your college admissions application.


After you've selected a college, you must apply to be admitted. On your admissions application, supply complete and accurate information — failure to do so will delay your admittance or, in some cases, keep you from being admitted.

Types of admissions policies

Most colleges use one of three types of admissions policies:

  • Standard or regular admission

    The complete admissions application must be submitted by a set date during your senior year. Although most college application submission dates fall between November 30 and March 15, you should call each college to which you are applying to find out their submission deadline. Acceptance notification usually takes place in the spring. Generally, if you have been accepted you must notify the college of intent by May 1.

  • Early admission program

    Outstanding academic achievers are sometimes admitted in early admission programs. Contact individual schools for details.

  • Open admissions

    Community colleges have open admissions policies. These colleges offer admission to all students who apply as long as they a have a high school diploma, have passed the high school proficiency test (GED), or are at least 18 years old. Also, open admissions usually means no subject, grade point average, or entrance exam requirements. However, many of these schools do require you take an entrance exam at the time of registration.

Admissions checklist

Requirements vary, but here are a few things you may need to provide when you apply to college:

  • Admission application, with your essay (if required)
  • Application fee (some waivers are available)
  • Extracurricular activities resume (if required)
  • Letters of recommendation from your teachers and others
  • Official high school transcript, with your class rank
  • SAT/ACT test scores
  • A copy of your Social Security card
  • Some medical records
  • Application for on-campus housing

For more information

Many people and organizations are anxious to help you find the information you need to get into college. The following are just a few helpful resources:

  • Your high school counselor,
  • College catalogs (Contact the bookstore at the college you plan to attend for a catalog — there may be a small fee required), and
  • The admissions and financial aid offices at the college you plan to attend.

Here are other documents located on AIE.org that you may be interested in: