As you embark on your final year of high school, it’s time to start thinking about applying to different colleges. The college application process can be confusing, especially for students who do not have an immediate family member who attended college. If you’re feeling anxious about admissions, don’t worry! GEAR UP is here to help with hands-on assistance and resources to help you prepare for your first college application.
The college application process requires basic information as well as more sensitive and confidential information.
A few of these basic questions include your name, address, phone number and social security number. If you do not know your social security number, be sure to have your Social Security Card handy when you’re ready to begin applying for colleges and financial aid.
You’ll also be asked questions about your guardian’s background information since you’re a minor. Have their emails, phone numbers and work information handy. Additionally, you’ll be asked whether they went to college and how many years they completed, if so.
Do not leave paper documents or information containing sensitive or confidential information unattended as this information can be used to commit fraud or steal your identity.
Most colleges use ACT or SAT scores to determine your admission to their school. Make sure to have a copy of your highest and/or most recent score on-hand. Contact your school specialist if you need help getting a copy. Colleges also like to review the work you completed in high school so grab a copy of your official high school transcript from your school counselor or specialist as well.
Awards, Activities and Community Involvement
Create a list of activities, awards, accomplishments and involvement throughout your high school career. Colleges are interested in knowing how active and involved you’ve been at school and in the community. This information helps them learn more about who you are beyond the grades and scores submitted. Include activities like sports, band, choir, girl or boy scouts, youth groups, volunteer work, honor societies and more. Now is the time to show the admissions team just how proud you are of your hard work.
Prepare to write an admissions essay. Many colleges evaluate students’ writing abilities by requiring an essay along with the application. Get a head start on this section by writing several drafts. After you’ve written a few drafts, give your brain a break for a day or so before reading it again. Before you submit, be sure to get your essay proofread and revised by someone you trust to provide feedback and ensure your essay is polished and free of any spelling and grammar errors. Reach out to a trusted teacher, counselor, parent or adult who can offer honest feedback. Your admissions essay is a critical part of the college submission process so avoid waiting until the last minute to get started.
Letters of Recommendation
Now you’ll need letters of recommendation to complete your application. Reach out to people you trust to say great things about you and your work ethic, like your school specialist or teachers. (Try to avoid using someone who is related to you.) Give your potential references plenty of time to write and be sure to provide a copy of your awards and involvement so they’ll have plenty of relevant highlights to chat about.
Credit or Debit Card
Finally, you’ll need to have a credit or debit card handy when applying to colleges because some schools require an application fee at the time of your submission.
That’s it! While there may be additional questions on the application, depending on the school, these tips are guaranteed to get you off to the right start. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to your school counselor or GEAR UP school specialist for help.