If you are reading this, I bet that you have heard the phrase “college application process” more than a few times. It sounds daunting and maybe even a little mysterious, especially for anyone who is just starting to look into college or university. What does it actually entail?
Albeit long, the college application process is pretty standard for most schools. For those of you who want to be a bit ahead of the curve, be sure to pay attention to the next few paragraphs – it might help you plan for the process and hopefully shorten how much time you spend on applications overall.
*This blog will give a general overview of what is expected for those applying through the Common App or the Coalition App. Stay tuned for more detailed information or information related to Questbridge.
The Journey Begins: Where are you Applying?
This may actually be more of a pre-step, as the research for this should happen as a forethought. Before you actually begin applying or brainstorming essays, it serves you to pinpoint where you want to apply. Here are some questions that might help as you research and find colleges.
Be sure to browse college websites, check forums, and of course, ask your guidance counselor for advice on finding schools and programs. Essentially, be sure to research beyond the school’s name so that you can get to the detail of what you actually want from your college experience.
Visits / Contacting Representatives:
If possible, try to carve out sometime to physically visit the campus. Visits allow you to tour the campus and potentially meet with admissions representatives. If that is not possible, many schools have created some type of virtual visit / virtual information session system.
*Pro-Tip: Look into to school Fly-In Programs! These offer students a chance to stay on campus for a day or two, meet with students, take mock classes, and talk with admissions counselors.
After choosing a few schools that pique your interest, it is now time to actually begin the formal process and apply via the Common Application or the Coalition Application. Both the Common App and the Coalition serve as aggregators for students applying to college, and there are a few things you’ll need to do to in order to apply to your potential schools correctly.
For starters, you’ll need a copy of your high school transcript as well as scores from standardized tests like the ACT, SAT, Advanced Placement exams, etc.
You’ll also have to answer questions about yourself as well as your reasons for applying. Below is an overview of the questions you'll come across.
(The question sections are broken into levels to easier categorize and talk about them. They are not referred to in this way on the actual applications).
Level 1 / Basic Questions:
Level 2 / Intermediate Questions:
Level 3 / From Your Supporters:
Level 4 / Time-Intensive Questions:
If you plan to apply for financial aid, the first thing you need to do is check out your intended college’s financial aid eligibility and deadlines. Colleges have this information online (Tufts’ financial aid information can be found here).
Your guidance counselor will be a great resource when you are thinking of applying to financial aid, as they can help you through the FAFSA, CSS profile, and the subsequent IDOC information (FAFSA, CSS Profile, and IDOC are information gathering tools that colleges use to help determine financial aid packages).
Tufts, as well as many other schools, offer alumni interviews. These are opportunities for you to meet with alumni of your target school and have a conversation both about the school and why you are interested in the school. The alumni will be able to answer some of your questions as well as provide you with some context about the school’s programs and activities.
*The interviewing alumni are seen as ambassadors of the university and they will write a summary note about the interview for admissions counselors to read. That being said, they are not there to be intimidating, but rather to help us learn more about you (and hopefully provide you will some helpful information).