How to Apply to College: What You Need to Get Started

Are you looking to start your dream career? Although it depends on the field, odds are that you’ll need a college degree to get into the field. In fact, research has shown that more than two-thirds of all jobs require some form of a college degree.

However, it can be difficult to navigate the college application process. So what should you know before jumping into it?

If you’re wondering how to apply to college, keep reading for a guide that’ll teach you everything you need to know to get into your dream school.

Research Different Schools

The moment you decide that you want to go to college, you need to start looking at different schools. The school you attend will affect the quality of your education, the opportunities you have, and the connections you can make.

Schools fall into two categories: public and private. Public colleges are often larger, as well as cheaper. Depending on the institution, you may be able to participate in a work-study program, which can make it even more appealing.

On the other hand, private schools are often smaller and more expensive. However, in many cases, you can find great financial aid packages that might make attending a private school cheaper.

Both categories have incredible colleges to choose from. Aside from choosing between public and private, you’ll also need to decide between different locations and degrees. In the end, the decision comes down to you, with every option having unique pros and cons.

Be Aware of Deadlines

Having a dream school in mind is great, but if you don’t submit the application on time, you won’t have any chance of getting in.

Applying early can give you a better chance of getting an early response back. Most schools offer early application periods in November and December. You should hear back a few weeks after submitting your application.

Some schools offer a second window for early application, which lasts until January. If you submit your application on time, you’ll hear back in February.

If you don’t mind waiting, you can submit your application a bit later during the normal application period. In most cases, this deadline is somewhere around the beginning of January. You’ll then have to wait to hear back until March or April.

Decide on an Application Platform

Many future college students don’t realize that they have different options for applying to schools.

One of the easiest ways to apply is with the common app. This app lets you send off multiple applications to different schools at once, making it easy to apply to many institutions. The common app works with over 900 colleges.

Depending on the state you live in, there may be another system to apply to different state schools. For example, if you live in New York State, you can use the SUNY app to apply to different state schools in New York.

Other schools, such as MIT and Georgetown University, aren’t featured on these applications. You’ll need to apply to them directly on the respective website.

Write a Killer Application Essay

Regardless of which application platform you use, you’ll need to write a solid application essay in order for the institution to accept you. Many people also refer to this as a personal statement.

One thing that trips many people up is the open-ended nature of many of the different essay prompts. This can make it difficult to decide on an approach to take to answer them.

Most application panels want to read essays that tell a story. The most effective personal statements aren’t necessarily the most braggadocious. Look for topics to write about that show a sense of self-reflection and growth.

Gather the Other Key Components

Aside from writing a solid personal statement, there are some other things you’ll need before you can submit your application.

In the first section, you’ll need to fill out your personal information. You’ll also need to submit your high school transcript, or GED replacement if you have one. Most colleges want your high school to send your transcript as opposed to you sending it.

Many schools also need to see your standardized test scores. You’ll need to show SAT or ACT scores, with higher marks helping you get into more prestigious institutions. Again, colleges prefer the testing company to send the scores, as opposed to you.

Be Aware of Different Costs Involved

In most cases, you’ll have to pay a fee to apply to different schools. This can range from around $50 to $90.

If you’re applying to multiple schools, it doesn’t make sense to apply to each one using a different application. Instead, use an app such as the Common Application to apply to multiple colleges at the same time (unless the only way to apply is through their website).

If all applications are out of your price range, you can look into different ways to waive the application fee. Often, if you took one of the standardized tests for free, you can apply for free as well.

Now You Know How to Apply to College

Whether you’re a senior in high school or an adult learner looking to go back to school, you need to have a solid understanding of the college application process. If you’re wondering how to apply to college, following this guide should help you get everything you need and start the journey of higher education.

Make sure to check out some of our other blog posts for more guides and tips.

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