Fill Out the Application

Review our tips before completing a printed or electronic college application.


Remember, your application makes your first impression for you. Keep a few things in mind when filling out your application:

  • Give yourself plenty of time to meet deadlines. Arriving late won't make a good first impression.
  • Answer all questions. Don't leave anything blank.
  • Follow all the directions completely.
  • Type or print your answers. Be neat. Presentation is important.
  • Include supporting materials (letters of recommendation, outstanding examples of your work or interests).
  • Make a copy. Applications can get misplaced.
  • Sign the application.
  • Include any required processing fees with your application.
  • If the application requires an essay, practice writing one before putting the final version on the application.
  • Fine tune your essay. Don't ramble. Have someone else review your draft.
  • Be yourself. Don't exaggerate your achievements or abilities.
  • Proofread your application. Have a parent or a friend proofread it, too.

Support materials

Some things you will have to provide when you fill out a college application:

  • Personal information (like your Social Security Number)
  • Family information (like parents' names, addresses, and Social Security Numbers)
  • Educational background (where you went to high school)
  • Test scores (SAT and/or ACT)
  • Academic experience (specific courses you've taken)
  • Awards and honors
  • Extracurricular activities (including school, religious, civic, work, and volunteer)
  • Written essay
  • Recommendations from teachers and counselors
  • An official high-school transcript (you can usually submit an unofficial one when you apply, but your acceptance will require an official one eventually)

Electronic applications

Applying to several schools can be tedious and time consuming. However, there are many electronic applications available online that can cut down on all the paperwork.

The basic idea is the same for all of them: create, edit, and proof your application once, and submit it to multiple colleges and universities in print or electronic format.

How do I know if a college accepts electronic applications?

Each online application has its own list of participating colleges, and many colleges participate in more than one system. But, before you apply, make sure the school you want to attend accepts electronic applications.

How are electronic applications submitted?

Some of the applications can be submitted electronically. Others you can print and mail. Some colleges offer their own online applications. Visit the website of a college to find out which options are available.

Where do I find electronic applications?

websites that offer electronic applications include:


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