College Admission Guide

why go to college

Select your college of choice is one thing - getting into your college of choice is another.

There are several criteria that colleges use for admittance. These include your HS academic record, your college entrance exam scores, your written essays and recommendations, and plus your extracurricular background that sets you apart.

Below are four (4) quick summary tasks for college admission:

Page Topics:

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Getting Into College of Choice

There are only a few admissions slots compared to the number of application received. So prepare your application submission carefully.

A general guide to follow:

  1. Hedge Your Bets:
    submit several applications to an assembled list of colleges.
  2. Submit on Time:
    get your application in early.
  3. Show Strong Academics:
    if your academics are weak, study hard for the college exams and write an outstanding essay.
  4. Study for the Tests:
    an above-average test score is NOT an automated ticket to admission. But it does add points in your favor with many colleges.
  5. Develop Good Essays - Recommendations:
    here is an opportunity to show your creativeness and leadership.
  6. Display Leadership:
    colleges admit applicants who display leadership skills from extracurricular activities.
  7. Final Work:
    your application is one of thousands that will be reviewed by the college's admissions staff. So submit the best application you can.

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College Submission Deadlines

Submit all required application documents at least two weeks before the deadline. Some calendar items for high school seniors:

Starting Senior: August-September

  • Select the colleges or schools that you desire to attend. Obtain the applications from the school.
  • Decide who you will ask to write your recommendations. Give this person plenty of time (at least 2-3 weeks prior to your request date).


  • Begin working on your essays and collect your letters of recommendations.
  • Complete the application in preparation for submission.


  • Complete applications for early and regular admissions.
  • Early submissions are usually due by November 01. Regular submissions are usually in January and February. Check your college for submission dates.
calendar list of items
view our senior calendar

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Application Submission Items:

  1. Application Form:
    Request an application form from each of your colleges. Use the COMMON application form if available. This can save you time from completing multiple application forms.
  2. Essays:
    Your college application will likely require 1- 2 essays. Prepare for enough time to write and edit your essays.
  3. Recommendations:
    Most college applications require 1-2 recommendations from teachers and/or community leaders. Select who should write your recommendation. Give the person plenty of time (about 3-4 weeks prior to your deadline). They will likely get requests from multiple students. So get your request in early. Make sure to provide them your "personal cheat sheet" about you, your accomplishments, and any other information. Also furnish them information where they can submit the recommendation (via the common app, online school app, or standard letter format).
  4. Transcripts:
    Arrange with your high school to forward required transcripts to select colleges. Get this done early. This is the one item that can delay your application.
  5. Extracurricular Activities:
    You want to show well-roundness in your application. Just the right amount of studies and outside activities. So don't think that a lot of extracurricular activities are a must. Show a balance.
  6. Early decision note:
    You need to decide if you are going to do early admission. If so, you will need to have your application completed and ready to submit between October and November of your senior year.
helping with the application
COMMON application form
essay resource and editing services

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Prepare for the Entrance Exams

Colleges require different college entrance exams. You need to check with your college to determine which exam to take.

Many students will sit for both exams to make sure they meet qualifications from all colleges. You should take these exams early (late Junior-early Senior year) so that your scores can be submitted to your colleges prior to the application deadline.

There are two types of exams:

  1. SAT Reasoning and Subject Tests
  2. The ACT Assessment®

Get with your guidance counselor about preparing for the college entrance exams. Don't miss the registration deadlines.

about collee entrance exams
about the SAT exam
about the ACT exam

Helpful Tools

Some helpful tools for making decisions:

off-to-college map (pdf print file)
college cost comparison worksheet (excel file)