When To Apply For College: Complete Timeline
Many students start college in the fall after they graduate high school, but their planning and applying starts years before. Application deadlines may be in the fall or winter of senior year, and completing each step on the path to college might start as early as freshman year.
This article answers all your questions about when to apply for college: when do you complete each step of the process, and when are your college deadlines? After reading this, you’ll know exactly when to apply to college and what steps are needed.
When Do The Majority Of Students Apply To College
Most students apply to college in their senior year of high school. They graduate in May or June and then start college in September of that same year.
Most schools offer multiple options for when to submit your applications. These different options are known as admissions plans, and each plan usually has its own deadlines, requirements, and, sometimes, restrictions. The admissions plans that youll encounter as you research different schools include the following: early decision, early action, regular decision, and rolling admissions.
Generally speaking, most schools will require you to submit applications for early action or early decision by November of 12th grade . To meet a regular decision deadline, you’d apply a few months later in January or February. Let’s take a look at each deadline in more specific detail, starting with early decision and early action.
Summer Before Senior Year
Summer is the perfect time before the chaos of September rolls around for you to start the preliminary phases of college admissions. Schedule tour visits for any college campuses that you have not yet visited and make notes that can be used to eventually narrow down your choices. Start considering which of your teachers would write a strong letter of recommendation. Take time to look over the Common Application and begin brainstorming some topics that you could use for your personal essay or personal statement. Once you narrow down your choices, explore their websites to learn admissions requirements and request an application. Make sure that your senior class schedule will meet all of the required courses youll need for enrollment.
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Everything You Need To Know About Getting Transcripts For Colleges
A high school transcript is like an official and thorough report card. Its a record of your academic performance and accomplishments throughout high school, making it one of the most important factors in college admissions decisions, if not the most important.
What information is included in my high school transcript?
Transcripts include tons of information, such as:
- The name of each class you took, from freshman year to the present
- The grade you received in each class
- When you took each class
- Your class rank
- In some cases, your attendance record and any serious disciplinary actions
- Sometimes, your standardized test scores and honors/awards
The transcript demonstrates your strength of schedule, improvement over time , and overall performance in high school. Colleges view the transcript as a solid way to predict how youll perform in college.
Its your job to earn the best grades possible, but its not your job to send your transcripts to schools. However, you do need to understand the basics of getting transcripts for colleges so that this vital step in the application process goes smoothly.
Who sends my transcripts?
Your high school guidance counselor will be responsible for sending your transcripts to colleges. You cant personally provide the transcript because it must be an official transcript received directly from your high school.
How are transcripts sent?
Your High School Transcript And Class Rank
Work with your high school to send us your official transcript documenting all coursework undertaken during your high school career and your class rank. If your high school does not rank students, include a statement from your school describing its policy, a copy of your schools profile and a GPA or grade distribution report. International students should review the requirements on the International Applicants tab below.
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Test Scores For International Applicants
If you are applying from a school where English is not the primary language of instruction, you must also submit scores from either the Test of English as a Foreign Language or the International English Language Testing System . Official score reports may be sent, or students may self-report their scores on their applications. All enrolling students are required to submit an official score report, and any discrepancies between self-reported and official test scores may jeopardize a student’s offer of admission.
Complete Each Schools Supplemental Essays
Supplemental essays are the college-specific essays that you may or may not have to write, depending on which colleges you are applying to. Some colleges require several short supplemental essays on prompts that are specific to their school. For example, one of MITs supplemental essay prompts during the 2019-2020 school year was:
At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the worlds biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc.
On the other hand, some colleges dont require supplemental essays at all. If you do find yourself with numerous supplemental essays to write, you may notice that there are common themes among the prompts for different colleges. There will probably be essays you can write that would be applicable to multiple supplemental essay prompts for different schools.
For example, many colleges ask for an essay describing your extracurricular involvement. With a little bit of tweaking, you could make one extracurricular essay speak to every prompt that asks about it. Since there is likely to be overlap in your supplemental essay prompts, we expect this process to take less time than the general Common App/Coalition Application essays.
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Submitting Ahead Of Deadline
I always like to see my students finish their applications ahead of schedule. That leaves ample time for proofreading and changes. However, submitting an application early is no guarantee that a school will look at it any sooner. After all, admissions reps are often out of the office traveling, especially during the fall. Depending on the college, there are specific times during which they read the numerous applications submitted by students. That said, students should be very aware of rolling admissions and early deadlines and pay close attention to the colleges stated policies. Early acceptance or notification can be but isnt necessarily a competitive advantage for the candidate.
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & AuthorPayless For College, Inc.
Questions For The 2021
The founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Blessed Basil Moreau, wrote, We shall always place education side by side with instruction the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart. How do you hope a Notre Dame education and experience will transform your mind and heart?
Additional Prompts :
- During the spring semester, Notre Dame faculty gave 3-Minute Lightning Talks on exciting topics within their fields of expertise. While you don’t have a Ph.D. yet, we bet you’re developing an expertise in something. If you were giving a Lightning Talk, what topic would you choose?
- There is a story or meaning behind every name or nicknameboth those were given and those that we choose. What is meaningful to you about your name?
- What would you fight for?
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What Else Do You Need To Do
Besides choosing your teacher recommenders carefully, make sure to ask well in advance of deadlinesat least a month before, if not in the spring of your junior year.
Send them a reminder emailperhaps masquerading as a thank you noteabout a week before your deadlines, and sign into your application and/or Naviance accounts to make sure they’ve uploaded their recommendations. Finally, make sure to thank your recommenders for all their help in getting into college!
Rolling Admission And Transfer Application Deadlines
Rather than maintaining set deadlines, colleges with rolling admission evaluate applications as they come in and usually offer several application windows each year. In general, these schools accept and review applications until all spots in the upcoming class are filled.
While schools’ application windows can vary widely, most institutions open up admissions early in the fall around September 1. This window can last all the way through spring, depending on how many spots remain, though some schools may follow the May 1 college deadline.
A rolling admission policy is one that many schools use to evaluate transfer applicants as well. Transfer students should begin the application process well ahead of their prospective school’s posted application deadline. Each school maintains its own application window and transfer credit policies, so make sure you carefully read over the requirements before applying.
Although there’s a chance your high school transcript may come into consideration, it’s more likely that your transfer school’s admissions board will evaluate your college transcript. All transfer students should request letters of recommendation, obtain official college transcripts, and submit their applications by March or April for admission that fall.
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College Application Cover Letter Examples
When you are applying for college admission, it’s important to do everything possible to make sure your application really stands out. Sending a cover letter in support of your application materials can be a great way to capture admissions officers’ attention in a positive way while also giving them a chance to learn a bit about your personality and unique circumstances.
When To Apply For College In The Fall
Applying to college entails a considerable amount of planning. While you can start some parts at the beginning of your senior year of high school, it’s recommended that you request recommendation letters and take the SAT or ACT your junior year. This tip is especially important for those planning to apply for an early admission decision.
Early action and early decision are ideal options for students who are prepared to apply early their senior year. Often resulting in an admission decision by mid-December, these options give students plenty of time to relax and enjoy their final semester of high school. Additionally, students who apply early to college may enjoy higher acceptance rates than regular decision applicants.
To meet an early deadline, you should begin the application process the summer before your senior year, focusing your efforts on writing your essay, gathering letters of recommendation, and taking the SAT/ACT.
Though early admission is growing in popularity, most students opt for the regular decision window. For students who need additional time to compare schools, perfect their essays, or retake the SAT/ACT, regular decision may be your best option. Be sure to request letters of recommendation by September of your senior year, as teachers tend to get extremely busy in late fall due to midterms and other recommendation requests.
Whichever deadline you decide works best for you, just make sure you feel confident when you submit your application.
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Application Fee Or Fee Waiver
There is a one-time, non-refundable application fee of $70. However, we understand that this application fee may present a financial hardship for some applicants. If you plan to apply for financial aid, and the application fee presents a hardship for you or your family, please complete the Pomona Access Pass form.
Upon completion of this form, the $70 application fee will be waived without requiring additional documentation. Questions? Please email our office at .
What Are Your Options For Submitting Recommendation Letters
Technically, there are two options for submission: online or by mail. Note the use of “or” colleges don’t want teachers to mix and match. In other words, schools don’t want a single teacher to submit her ranking form online and then send her letter by mail. If she’s submitting online, then she should submit everything online. If by mail, then everything should go by mail. Generally speaking, most students reading this will have their recommenders submit their letters online.
Since you’re already doing more than enough with the college application process, you might be relieved to hear that you don’t actually have to submit your letters! Your teachers and counselor are responsible for uploading the rec letters to whatever system you’re using.
What you are responsible for, though, is inviting them. Make sure you give them clear deadlines, send a reminder email, and double check that your schools received their letters. Whichever mode you’re using to applythe Common Application, Universal Application, school-specific app, and/or Naviance softwareyou’ll assign your recommenders. The rest is up to them!
As you can tell, there are various ways to apply, and, therefore, there are different ways to deliver your letters of recommendation to colleges. Let’s consider how exactly your recommenders will submit in a few different scenarios.
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What Is Involved In A College Application
Are you ready to find your fit?
The year leading up to your first semester of college is an exciting time. It can also be hectic and stressful, particularly if you are not certain how to apply. Although the requirements for an application vary widely between schools, there are certain common aspects and there are also certain pitfalls you should try to avoid.
How To Apply For College
As you approach the end of your junior year of high school, you should finalize a list of schools you want to apply to. How many schools you’ll want to apply to depends on your circumstances.
It’s always good to have a backup school, but if you’re confident that you have the right grades and test scores for your preferred choice, you may only need to apply to one college. Conversely, if you’re only applying to very academically competitive schools, you may want to submit 8-10 applications. For most students, four or five schools is about the right number. Your list will grow and change over time, but it’s good to have a strong starter list by February of your junior year.
When preparing to apply to these colleges in the fall of your senior year, make sure you have all of the necessary application materials. Every school requires a copy of your high school transcripts, which you can request through your high school records office. Below are a few other items to take care of as you apply.
Many colleges require a college entrance examination, although some schools have recently dropped this requirement. The two most common college tests are the ACT and the SAT, which seek to measure what you’ve learned in high school. While similar, they do have some important distinctions. Nearly every college that wants test scores will let you submit results from the ACT or the SAT, so it’s up to you to decide â you may also take both.
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And Dont Forget A Thank You Note After An Interview
If your college requires or requests an interview as part of your college application, dont forget about the thank you note! You should send one of these a few days after your meeting with the school representative, thanking them for their time and any impressions you had from the interview.
Handwriting these notes can be valuable, as they show the interviewer you put time and care into it. Youll want to make it personalized to your meeting with them while also expressing your further interest in the college. In cases where you cant handwrite a note, an email should do fine.
Sending in your college applications is certainly a cause for celebration, but dont forget to follow up! Whether its checking in after sending in the application itself, making sure the college received everything they need or sending a thank you note, it can go a long way in helping you earn an acceptance letter from the college.
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High School Grades Progression
Virtually every institution will request your high school transcript, but your grade progression is a great thing to highlight on the application.
If you started high school averaging with Bs and Cs and eventually worked your way up to straight As then you need to share that information!
Use your transcript as a tool to highlight your academic progression over time. If you show admissions officers your hard work and commitment to academic improvement, they will notice and take it into consideration.
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Do I Need A Resume For My College Applications
If you are a teenage prodigy who spent your spare time in high school interning at a cancer research laboratory and founding a charitable organization which distributes prescription glasses in Zimbabwe, then being asked to formulate a resume as part of your college application might sound like a perfectly natural proposition. Its quite easy to summarize your prodigious achievements in resume form if you happen to be a wunderkind with a list of accomplishments longer than most MacArthur Fellows.
Yet, for 17/18-year-olds who happen to be mere mortals, the task of writing a resume might feel as absurdly impossible as being asked to perform an act of alchemy. Tasked with magically creating pure gold from a menacingly blank MS Word document, crazed thoughts begin to flood your mind: The only people agonizing over a resume should be middle-aged executives who were downsized after a hostile corporate takeover, whatever that isIm a senior in high school for crying out loudI go to school and work the cash register at CVS in the summers. What more do you want from me!?
Try to take a deep breath as you emerge from your Mike-Judgean nightmare and back into reality. In the following article, we will explain everything you need to know about college application resumes, including:
- Which college accept resumes
- Honors College applications that require resumes
- How to write a college resume