Guide to Applying for College Step by Step: Path to Success
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GUIDE TO APPLY FOR COLLEGE STEP BY STEP! Applying for college can be an exciting AND overwhelming process. This step-by-step guide will provide you with useful information and guidance to help you navigate the college application process, successfully. Every step is essential, from research to submission, each step ensures you find the right college and increase your chances of being accepted!
WITH THAT SAID, HERE IS YOUR GUIDE TO APPLYING FOR COLLEGE STEP BY STEP: YOUR PATH TO SUCCESS!
Table of Contents
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STEP 1: rESEARCH & EXPLORE OPTIONS
Number one in this guide to applying for college is: research and explore your options. Use reputable college search websites, such as CollegeBoard or the school’s direct website, to explore the variety of colleges available to you.
It is important to consider factors like location, academic programs, financial aid and more, to help you narrow down your list of potential colleges. Make sure that the colleges on your list align with your interests and goals. DO NOT SETTLE.
College Board has an amazing college search engine to help you locate the right college for you by filtering location, majors, type and campus life.
STEP 2: TAKE STANDARDIZED TESTS
Register for standardized tests required by your chosen college(s). Most, if not all, of America’s high school’s require SAT or ACT to be taken by the end of junior year.
Each college has an average ACT/SAT score they seek from incoming freshman. With that said, do your due diligence by preparing for the exams so you can take them confidently and obtain the score you and the college desires.
Prepare by utilizing study guides, practice tests, YouTube, and online resources. Also, schedule your test dates strategically to allow time for retakes if needed.
Here are a few amazing resources to help you ace your ACT / SAT:
STEP 3: GATHER APPLICATION MATERIALS
Collect all materials, including high school transcripts, letter of recommendation(s), personal statements, references and more. Each college application requires something different, do your research.
When requesting for high school, or even college transcripts, ensure they are requested in a timely manner so you can meet the deadline.
For letters of recommendation, it can be from a teacher, counselor, mentor, manager, church pastor and others that highlight your strengths and achievements. Typically, relatives are not included.
STEP 4: COMPLETE THE APPLICATION FORMS
Create accounts on college application platforms, such as Common Application or college-specific portals to save and complete your application.
Make sure to fill out the forms carefully, providing honest, accurate, detailed information about your academic background/achievements and personal experiences. This can include all but not limited to: grades, test scores, extracurricular activities (e.g. sports, student council), volunteer work, side hustles and others.
STEP 5: SUBMIT APPLICATIONS & PAY FEES
Review your application(s) thoroughly for any errors or omissions before submitting. Most, if not all, college applications have a non-refundable fee. Added altogether, it can be quite pricey, so you do not want any money going down the drain.
Submit your applications well prior to the deadlines to avoid any possible last-minute delays or technical issues.
After submitting applications, keep track of the fees for tax purposes and keep track of payment confirmations for future reference.
STEP 6: APPLY FOR FINANCIAL AID
Apply for financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is a quick process. You will need a login, the name of the college(s) you are considering, financial information from your parents and more. You can apply on the student aid FAFSA site.
It is recommended to also research and apply for scholarships, grants and other forms of financial assistance offered through organizations, government agencies, and the college you are applying to.
A PERSONAL TIP: Research the background of each organization you apply to, especially if they offer to interview you. More than likely will they ask why you considered their organization, what you appreciate about them and how you relate.
Be sure to keep track of all the deadlines and required documents to maximize your chances of securing financial aid early on.
Check out our post on How to Pay for College for more in depth information!
How to Pay for College: Everything You Need to Know
STEP 7: FOLLOW UP & STAY ORGANIZED
It is important to keep a record of your application submissions, deadlines, and correspondence with colleges. Use the same email for all of your application submissions/logins so you know where you will receive application status updates.
Be on top of your submissions and regularly check your application status on the application portals as well, in case there are requests for additional information or interview invitations.
Every response back to you is valuable, so respond promptly to any requests and communicate professionally to uphold a positive impression.
STEP 8: MAKE A DECISION
You’ve reached the last step of this guide to applying for college! Make a Decision!
Before making a final decision, there is much to consider such as: financial aid, campus culture, academics, and location.
Review every detail that is necessary in your decision. Evaluate acceptance letters, financial aid packages, visit the college campus if needed, attend student events, get a better sense of the college’s culture by connecting with current students.
After considering everything, weighing your options, make an informed decision and notify the college of your acceptance.
Remember, do not settle. Choose what you believe best fits your needs, and goals.
There is much to take into consideration throughout the application process. Much to ponder over before, during and even after! It requires careful planning, research and organization, especially if you are trying to decide between multiple colleges/universities.
This step-by-step guide helps you navigate the college application process with confidence and increases your chances of finding the right college for your personal and academic growth.
Do not be discouraged if you can’t decide right away. Ponder carefully, consult others if necessary, and be proactive. Remember to stay focused and seek support from mentors and resources throughout your journey.
The place does not matter as much as your determination to succeed. With that said, no matter which school you decide to attend, you will be just fine! Stand strong and confident.
We hope this post has given you confidence in finding the right college and beginning your walk on the path to success!
love, Jas Joy