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College Resources

 Application FAQs

How do I get the actual application?

Once you decide you want to apply to a particular college, contact that school by email or phone.  The admissions office will be happy to send you an application. Make it clear what kind of application you want (a first-time, first-year application vs. a transfer application, etc.).

When should I begin my applications?

The more time you leave yourself to complete your applications, the better.  We think it’s preferable to begin filling them out, or at least reviewing them, in late summer (even if you haven’t fully finalized your list of schools).  And you can certainly start thinking about topics for your personal statement and perhaps even compose a first draft.  Some applications are quite complex, involving multiple essays and letters of recommendations, etc. Once the school year begins, you’ll be grateful that you’re ahead of the game. 

How many schools should I apply to?

There’s no definitive “right” answer to this question.  Some students only plan to apply to one school while others might hedge their bets and apply to fifteen.  However, we think there’s probably a happy medium.  A number between five and eight is probably more realistic. While you don’t necessarily want to break the bank with numerous application fees, you can’t count on getting accepted to your dream school.  It’s best to choose colleges with a moderate range of selectivity (i.e. a mix of reach, match and safety schools).  And regardless of whether you’ll be a shoe-in or a long-shot, make sure all the universities to which you apply are schools you’d actually want to attend.  After all, you never know how the chips will fall.

When do I receive a school’s decision?

Most colleges and universities send out their regular admissions decisions around late March or early April.  Students who have applied early decision often hear back around mid-December (sometimes early January).  And those who have applied to a school with rolling admission typically hear back within several weeks of their submission.

Should I apply Early Decision?

If you’ve determined that a specific college is your absolute number one choice, you might want to consider applying early.  By doing so, you’re telling a school that you are definitely willing to commit to them.  You will also be considered against a smaller pool of applicants.  Further, if you are admitted early, it certainly takes the pressure off and saves you from additional application fees and headaches.  

However, you need to be aware that, should you receive an acceptance, you’ll almost always be required you to pull your applications from all other colleges.  That also means you won’t have the opportunity to compare financial aid packages from different schools.  If you’re wary of committing, early decision might not be the best option for you.  However, you could consider schools that offer early action.  Early action offers students the opportunity to apply earlier than (and receive a response before) the regular crop of candidates.  The benefit is that early action is typically not binding. 

Should I apply online or use a paper application?

There’s really no right or wrong answer to this question.  If you personally do not have a preference, you can reach out to schools to see if they do.  Oftentimes, colleges prefer online applications because they are much easier to process, but applying on paper won’t hurt your chances.  Additionally, you might discover that online apps are more convenient for you as well.  And they are definitely better when you need to fix an error. Plus, there’s the whole environmental thing.

What is the Common Application?

The Common Application is a standard application form used by hundreds of colleges.  A welcome option for most students, it certainly streamlines the application process.  Indeed, instead of filling out your information on say six separate applications, you only need to type it out once.  Pretty sweet, right?  However, you should keep in mind that many schools that accept the Common App also require students to submit supplemental forms, documents or essays.  And, unfortunately, you’ll still have to pay application fees to each individual school.

Is it okay to recycle application materials?

Fear not; colleges don’t cross-check applications with each other.  Assuming your responses are germane to the questions each application poses, you can definitely reuse your answers and personal statement.  Just make sure you have a tight, well-written, contemplative response.  There’s no need to struggle with writing a brilliant new essay for every app. 

If my GPA and/or test scores are below a school’s average, should I bother to apply?

While it’s important to be realistic when applying college, you also shouldn’t automatically be deterred.  Yes, you likely face more of an uphill battle with an admissions committee if your scores are below the mean.  However, you need to recognize that given that these statistics are the average, plenty of other admitted students have fallen below those scores as well.  Colleges realize that you’re more than just a data point.  They could very well see your potential or think you would help contribute to a vibrant campus.  If you truly love a school, don’t hesitate to throw your hat into the ring.  Leave yourself open to the possibility of a pleasant surprise.   



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Don Munce