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How to Fill Out a College Application

Let’s face it: applying to college is the only way you can get in! This is not a hard process, but it does take time and planning. If you don’t have a list of possible colleges to apply to, visit 5 Simple Steps for Your College Search and get your list ready. 

Once you’ve selected the ten schools you want to apply to, the next step is completing your college applications. 

This is your basic guide to complete your applications:

1. Read the entire application, and make sure you know each school's deadline. 

2. Set aside time so you can be thorough, and pay attention to detail. It's important that you fill out your college applications accurately and complete all the sections.

3. Pay special attention to your personal statement, sometimes known as the college essay. Begin planning and writing this early in your junior year.

  • Schools have different requirements for what they are interested in learning about you. Get each school’s application from their website and tailor each personal statement to that school’s requirements. Also let them know what makes you so interested in attending that particular college. They want to know that you want to go there!
  • Find an editor you trust to help you with spelling, grammar and the content of your essay. This is very important! College admissions officers get thousands of applications each year and they will sometimes immediately discard those that have grammar or spelling errors in them.

4. Apply on time! Plan when to complete each application so you don’t miss the application deadlines.

5. Once you have applied, pay special attention to your email or U.S. postal mail. Colleges will often send you follow up requests. Don’t miss these and be sure to respond promptly even if you don’t have the information they request readily available. Respond and let them know you received their request and when you will be able to provide the information. This conveys that you are a responsible student and one they’d like to have at their school.

If you need some good tips from a college admissions officer, check out the following video describing what colleges typically look for when reviewing college applicants. You can also read what Stanford University Office of Undergraduate Admission says about how colleges make their admissions decisions.

Also, if you are still not ready to apply but would like to see what a common college application may look like, you can find one at CommonApp.org.

Have a question? Let us know.
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