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College Prep

College Application Process

Applying to College

There are many ways to apply to college. Here are some basic steps:

Gather information and applications from your choice of colleges and universities.

If you are applying to several private colleges, you will most likely need to submit a Common Application. Check out their website to learn more.

Make a list of requirements for each college (for example, letters of recommendation, essays, and transcripts).

Mark the due dates on your calendar, and mark TARGET date for one week before applications are due. You will need time to get all the paperwork together and collect letters of recommendation, etc.

Don't wait until the last minute!

Sign up for Standardized Tests; if you have already taken them, send your scores to the universities where you will be applying.

Most applications will be due before the end of December, then you need to start applying for financial aid and scholarships while you wait for your letters.

Decision letters usually arrive before the end of March.

Letters of Recommendation

Getting great letters of recommendation in the first few months of your senior year is critical to the college application process. Here are some recommendations you can follow to secure your strong letters from your teachers and guidance couselors:

Ask for your teachers and counselors to write your letters of recommendation at least 5 weeks before they are due.  Your recommenders will need time to craft strong letters. Request your letters of recommendation from people who know you well. 

Give your recommenders an up-to-date resume so that they can include all relevant information in their letters.

Check-in with your recommenders every other week to answer any questions they may have.

Personal Statements

Personal statements are an important requirement in the application process.  They are a great way to tell readers about you.  Use these essays as an opportunity to highlight your personal experiences for college and scholarship applications.

Essays can range from short (200-500 words) to long (900+ words).  In your writing, make sure you are answering the question posed. You should support your main ideas with the best example or anecdote. Be sure to include only relevant details and use smooth transitions to tie your essay together. Your essays should be thoughtful and reflective.

Choosing a Major

A major is an organized collection of classes relating to a particular subject (e.g., English), theme (e.g., Women's Studies) or professional field (e.g.,Pre-Med, Pre-Law, Engineering, etc.) that will lead to the attainment of your degree from a particular college or university.  By declaring a major, you decide upon a certain set of classes and/or work in an area you wish to focus on.

No one major is objectively better than any other, and different people are cut out for very different things. Your major does not determine your life.  Your values, personal ambitions, and dreams will ultimately be what propel you into the kind of life you desire.  You may not know what career you want right now, but give some thought to the general sort of post-college life you want to build for yourself, and that will help propel your decision on choosing a major.

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