Applying to college involves a bit of paperwork, and you may be feeling daunted by the many parts of the application. Don't stress; we've got you covered:


You can fill out a paper application or apply online. Most schools require you to list basic information about you and your family, as well as your GPA, standardized test scores, extracurriculars, and any awards you earned in high school.

Over five hundred colleges and universities now accept the Common Application, a single form that you can fill out and submit to multiple schools. Using it means you don't have to fill out individual application forms for each school you apply to. If you use the Common App, however, be advised that schools require you to fill out supplementary forms (including additional essays!).


Some colleges require that your high school send your transcript directly, others allow you to send it. In the latter case, your high school will give you a sealed envelope. Don't break the seal on the envelope or your transcripts will not be accepted!

SAT or ACT Score Report

When you take the SAT or ACT, you can request that a score report be sent directly to your prospective colleges. Or, for the SAT and SAT Subject Tests you can decide later whether colleges see one, some, or all of your scores. Be advised that you cannot mix and match sections (you can't send in your great Math score from June and your great Verbal from January). Make sure you leave plenty of time for your scores to be processed and sent.

Letters of Recommendation

Colleges usually require two or three letters of recommendation from high school teachers or guidance counselors. When requesting a letter of rec, pick someone who knows you well and can speak to your strengths. Approach your potential letter writers about two months prior to the actual due date since teachers and counselors tend to get swamped with requests toward the end of the fall semester!

Personal Statement

By far the most time-consuming part of any application, the college essay is also your opportunity to shine. The prompt or question will be provided in the application along with length guidelines (usually 300 to 500 words). We recommend that you start early, revise carefully, and ask a teacher to edit your work.

Financial Aid

An important heads-up: applying for financial aid is a separate process that requires you to fill out the FAFSA, and sometimes additional paperwork like the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® or the school's customized form.