What do I need to apply to college?

The fall semester of senior year is the time when most students complete and submit their college applications. You can find out more about each college’s requirements with our interactive map. Specific requirements should be available in the admissions section of each college’s website.

The application process can seem overwhelming, but breaking it down into steps can help make it go smoothly. Remember, it’s important not to wait until the last minute–especially on things you may need others help with, like reference letters and proofreading.

Step 1: Choose at least six colleges to apply to.

Your list should include a couple of schools you’ll almost definitely be accepted by, a couple of schools you have a good chance of being accepted by, and a couple of schools that are more of a reach. It’s always good to have options when the time comes to make your final decision.

Step 2: Get organized.

Create a folder for each school you plan to apply to. In the folder, you can store admissions information and applications materials.

Step 3: Keep a calendar with application deadlines clearly marked.

Some schools have strict deadlines for their applications, while others will accept applications year-round. Make sure you know the deadlines for each school you’re applying to.

Step 4: Make a checklist.

The list should include application deadlines and to-dos. You should add one of these checklists to each of the folders you’re keeping. Download a printable checklist here.

Step 5: Find out each school’s specific application requirements.

Some schools require a personal essay or other writing sample along with your transcript and test scores. Others might ask for one or more references from teachers, coaches or activity directors. Or, if you’re applying to an art school, you might be asked to submit a portfolio of your work.

Step 6: Talk to your school counselor about fee waivers.

You may be eligible for reduced or waived application fees if you’re concerned about the cost of applying to multiple colleges.

Step 7: Proofread, proofread, proofread!

It’s important that your application materials are error-free. Ask a teacher, parent or other adult to review each application and associated materials before you submit anything.

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