The ultimate guide to college applications


Michalea Halikias

As deadlines for college applications quickly approach, many students are trying to manage their stress.

Although senior year has a reputation for being fun and carefree, the first semester requires plenty of hard work and dedication due to one thing: college applications.

With deadlines quickly approaching, it is crucial to know exactly when you need all of your applications submitted. For early action and early decision, applications must be submitted by Thursday, Nov. 1 for most universities. For regular admissions, applications must be submitted by Tuesday, Jan. 1 for most schools. 

Michalea Halikias
Most students use The Common Application to complete their college applications.

Early decision is binding, meaning if you are admitted to the school, you must go there. Early action and regular admissions are non-binding, meaning you do not have to go to that school if you get in.

It is easy to get stressed during this time of the year, so it is helpful to make a plan and stick to it. Part of this includes knowing exactly what you have to do to complete your applications.

“Each school will typically have varying requirements, but generally speaking, an online application includes an essay portion, an official ACT or SAT score sent from the testing agency, and an official high school transcript,” said Mr. John Marinier, guidance counselor. “Some schools may accept recommendation letters, some are test optional, while others may require or recommend SAT subject test scores and/or interviews. It really depends on the school, which is why it is critical to be organized and to visit each school’s admission website.”  

Along with the basic questions on a college application and the Common Application essay prompt, many colleges will also require supplemental essays in order to get to know the applicant on a more personal level.

“The hardest part about college applications would probably be all of the supplemental essays, just because there are so many for some of the colleges I’m applying to,” said Taylor Marquez, senior applying early action to nine colleges.

Between schoolwork and extracurricular activities, many students may find it hard to dedicate time to complete their common applications.

“I usually only have time to work on my college applications on the weekends,” said Bahda Hoang, senior applying to nine colleges. “It can be hard to find time to sit down and plan out all of your essays and fill out all of the necessary requirements.”

However, to combat this, Mr. Marinier has a handy suggestion.

“Step back and see the long-term value in all of your research about various schools and hours spent tailoring essays, and remember to look forward to what’s around the corner and the exciting opportunities ahead,” Mr. Marinier said. “Setting aside two hours each weekend can go a long way toward seeking out best-fit schools and completing application requirements, especially those with early deadlines.”

Regarding advice about overall college applications, Mr. Marinier has a few tips to ensure an easier, more relaxed process.

“Take ownership, be reflective, ask questions, and explore what’s out there,” Mr. Marinier said.  “There is a reason why they call it a discovery process. Remember, colleges are evaluating fit just like the applicant- because, at the end of the day, fit is what fosters growth, retention, and success.”

For questions regarding college applications, consult a guidance counselor in the guidance office.