Plan for College

Learn how to prepare for the education and training that will get you your dream job.

A How-to Guide to Completing College Applications

Follow these steps to make sure your application is completed on time.

Many schools have a spring application deadline for fall admission. You will have to submit everything no later than March if you want to attend college the next fall. Check the school’s website or call the office of admissions to learn exact deadlines. Applying to college happens in steps. Consider these steps as you fill out each application for a school you’re interested in.

  1. Create a check list of tasks. Your check list could include drafting essays, getting letters of recommendation, and requesting high school transcripts. See Application Checklist for details.
  2. Get help as you need. You can get help from multiple people and resources as you complete your application, including your high school counselor, college catalogs and websites, and the admissions and financial aid offices at the college you plan to attend.
  3. Use an electronic application if you can. Applying to several schools can be tedious and time-consuming. However, there are many electronic applications available online that can cut down on the paperwork. Each online application has its own list of participating colleges. Before you apply, make sure the school you want to attend accepts electronic applications and uses the online application you’ve chosen. Your school may have its own online application. Websites that offer electronic applications include:
    • The Common Application. The Common Application is the recommended form for a number of colleges and universities.
    • Princeton Review. The Princeton Review offers a simple approach to applying to hundreds of colleges online.
    • CollegeNET. This site also provides an easy, searchable connection to online college applications.
  4. Draft and proof any necessary essays. Fine-tune your essay before adding it to your application. Make sure you don't ramble or exaggerate your achievements. Just express yourself and show your commitment to your goal.
  5. Review what you submit. Have a friend review what you’re submitting.
  6. Make a copy. Applications can get misplaced, so keep multiple copies.
  7. Include any required payments. Don’t forget to include the fee to apply. Your school may offer fee waivers in certain cases. Ask your high school counselor about fee waviers.

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