The college application process might seem straightforward at first; you gather all the information you need, complete the online application, and press the submit button. Unfortunately, it’s not that straightforward.

Here’s what you need to know about the college application process.

Every college application includes a section for your personal information, including parent and family information, school information, GPA, and a personal statement or essay. Colleges also inquire about high school awards and college level classes completed, such as dual enrollment classes and select weighted classes you have passed.

Some colleges request a high school resume and others prefer a list of extracurricular activities. While each school can create their own online application, many use the common application.

The common application (app) was designed to streamline the college application process by enabling you to complete one application and submit it to multiple schools for admissions consideration. You can even tweak the application before submitting it to a specific school. Currently almost 700 colleges nationwide accept the common app, including 33 in Virginia.

The common app requires the following supplemental information:
o Personal essay
o Recommendation letters
o Extracurricular activities list
o Standardized test scores (may be optional depending on the school)
o High school transcript
o Supplemental questions (depending on individual college requirements)

After gathering the required information, a student can set up a Common App account with a username and password. To complete the account set up process, registration information such as home address, phone number, and date of birth must be added. After an account is created, a student adds colleges to the account using the college search tab.

Even though two colleges use the same application, it’s highly likely their admissions requirements and criteria may differ. Each college that has been added to the account will be listed under the My College section. The college information, application, and writing supplemental sections for each school vary based on that school’s requirement. The college information section includes application deadlines, application fees, testing requirements, and college contact information.

In the application subsection under My Colleges, the school’s questions, recommenders and FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), and review and submit the common application options can be found. The recommenders section allows a student to invite and manage teacher recommendation letters online. A student can submit the common app for one school while waiting to submit an application for others.

Finally, the writing supplement information in the My Colleges section breaks down the specific writing requirements for each school. While some colleges only require the common app essay, others add supplemental essays or questions that must be answered for admission consideration. These additional essays can be submitted with the application or separately. A student can confirm which materials have been submitted to a college and which have not by viewing the dashboard.

Before submitting an application, a student will review information and responses, pay the application fee online, check off a list of affirmations, then click the submit button. When the confirmation screen appears it’s time to celebrate!

Throughout the application process we recommend students track all requirements for each school using this worksheet. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns along the way.