Tools and Resources
Frequently Asked Questions — Applying
Questions about applying
- Once I know where I want to go to school, how do I get in?
- What questions will an application ask?
- In addition to the admissions application, what other information will the college need from me in order to complete the application process?
- What kind of essay must I submit?
- What happens once I submit an application?
- Why do some people apply to several colleges or universities?
- If I'm interested in biology, for instance, does that mean I should become a doctor?
- How will I know whether or not my admission to the college is approved once I submit the application?
- Is it okay to submit applications to several different universities for the same semester?
- How do I know if an essay has to be included with the application?
- Where can I get information about a particular school’s admissions policy?
Throughout your years in high school, keep good records of everything you might use to help you be admitted to college - copies of records showing what you participated in, your grades, your scores on tests, records showing what you volunteered for, newspaper clippings, etc. During your senior year in high school, you should gather together all the information and use it to help you complete an application form. You can use a paper application, available from specific schools, or an online application, which you can submit electronically.
An admissions application will request personal information from the applicant along with a summary of his or her educational credentials. It will also ask for the SAT and/or ACT test results, if taken. In addition, it will solicit some general information on things like extracurricular activities, community service performed, summer activities, past or current employment and/or honors received. Prospective students should be able to go to a school’s web site to either complete it out online or download a paper copy. Please remember to always use your full name and social security number on any admissions application materials. The institution will also require a nonrefundable application fee that must be paid in a timely manner in order for the application to be successfully submitted. In some cases, this fee may be waived by the school.
Most colleges and universities will require an official high school transcript, SAT and/or ACT test scores or a date when they will be taken, an application fee and a personal essay in some cases. Some institutions may also require you to complete placement tests before enrolling in certain college courses. For a complete list of the admissions requirements for your institution, please contact the school directly. The information can also be found on the college’s Web site.
Not all colleges or universities require those applying for admission to submit an essay, and those that do so can ask for very different ones. The best thing to do is to find out what your essay question is by looking at the application form for the school to which you want to apply. Request a copy of the paper application or visit the web site of the school and find out what the question is. You can take as much time as you like to write and rewrite your essay. You can have friends and family members review it for you. You can practice long before it's time to apply. But, even though the questions from one school to another may be very different, most colleges are looking for a well-organized, well-developed response. The quality of the essay is probably as important as the content, so do your best.
For some schools, an application is just a formality - the schools accept anyone who applies. For colleges or universities that have strict enrollment requirements or intense competition for admission, once you submit your application, you must wait to hear from the school. When the school decides whether you will be admitted, they will contact you. When you submit your application, ask when admission decisions are final and how you will be contacted.
Applying to more than one university leaves your options open. Some students want to find out whether they will be offered scholarships at a college or university before they make final decisions about whether they will attend. Some students aren't sure whether they will be accepted to a college or university they would like to attend and so apply to more than one, including some they know they will be accepted to. Deciding whether to apply to more than one university is something each student and his or her family must decide. Ask your high school counselor whether you should apply to several colleges, or whether applying to only one is right for you.
While you should think about the correlation between your chosen major as it relates to future employment prospects, it is also a good idea to think about careers as more than just a subject matter. Factor in the kind of person you are and how it will relate to a future job. Do you follow directions well or do you like giving them? Do you need a quiet work environment or can you function in the midst of chaos? Do you like hands-on challenges? Do you like to travel? Is a large salary important to you? Answers to questions like these may help you to decide on a career that will leave you content and successful. In your particular case, given your interest in biology, if becoming a doctor isn’t right for you, other career options to consider might include working in a lab as a research assistant or becoming a biology teacher.
The college will notify you once it has made a decision about your admission status. For schools with an open door policy, the admissions standards are less stringent. For other institutions with limited or strict enrollment requirements, if you are initially denied admission it still might be possible to attend as a transfer student at a later date. For more information about an institution’s admissions policy, please visit the school’s Web site or call the admissions office. Lastly, make sure that you know what the admissions deadline is for the college that you plan on attending. If you do not submit your application to the school prior to that time, you will have to wait until the next semester to reapply.
Yes. This practice may be prudent if students haven’t settled on one particular college yet or aren’t sure if they will be accepted into every institutions that they are interested in attending. In addition, financial aid packages offered to prospective students, including scholarship opportunities, can vary widely from school to school. By having several different aid packages from institutions to contrast and compare, it may help a student decide which school he or she can realistically afford.
Contact the school where you would like to attend college to see if an essay is a mandated part of the admissions process. If it is required by the institution, please make sure that your response is thought-provoking, well-organized, free of grammatical and spelling errors and adheres to the guidelines set by the school. Remember, this is an opportunity to introduce yourself to the school and demonstrate good writing skills which may factor into the admissions decision.
You can obtain information about a school’s admissions policy either by contacting the institution directly or visiting its Web site. When you have selected a school(s), you can download a paper copy of the application or complete it out electronically on its website. This process will go a lot quicker if you have kept good records during high school of things like your SAT/ACT scores, class rank, honors or awards that you received, volunteer activities, and/or any jobs that you have held.
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