College Applications

Before selecting a school, students must assess the college’s admission requirements to determine if they qualify. To do this, explore the school’s website and note minimum course and GPA requirements, necessary tests, essays, and application deadlines.

Items required in College Applications

ApplicationUsually found on the school's website. Make sure you complete all sections completely and thoroughly and keep track of deadlines, as they vary from college to college.

Official SAT or ACT ScoresStudents can send test scores to schools they've applied to by logging into their account at or  See Tests for more information about SAT and ACT.

Letters of RecommendationSome schools require letters of recommendation for admission. Students need to request these letters early, giving recommenders at least two weeks notice. They can use the Letter of Recommendation Request Survey to help the recommender write an informed letter. Students should politely follow-up with the recommender as the deadline approaches and then write recommenders a thank you note and keep them updated on the students' plans.

 Essays        Make sure students answer each question completely and that they stay within the word limit. Students need to let their own unique voice shine through, and be themselves as they are writing their essays. It is a good idea for them to get feedback on essays from peers, teachers, and parents. See Tips on Submitting Applications and Essays.

 Application Fee*An application fee is required for most colleges. Many colleges accept fee waivers or deferments for students that are on free or reduced lunch. If you received a fee waiver for the SAT, you will receive four college application fee waivers in your online account. 

*Note about application fee waivers and deferrals: many colleges require an application fee at the time students submit their application. Several automatically waive the fee if students apply online, others will accept a deferral or waiver, both of which must be signed by a high school counselor. Students should download a copy of the NACAC fee waiver that can be used nationally.

Common Application - One common application to apply to nearly 700 colleges and universities worldwide.

Admissions and Decision Options 

Regular DecisionStudents submit an application by a specified date and receive a decision in a clearly stated period of time.
Rolling Admission   Institutions review application as they are submitted and give admission decisions as they receive applications. 
Early Action        Students apply early (usually November) and receive a decision well in advance of the institution's regular response date. This is non-binding.
Early Decision Students make a commitment to a first-choice institution where, if admitted they definitely will enroll. The application deadline and decision deadline occur early. This is binding. If accepted, the student must withdraw all other applications.
Limited EntryA term that describes programs that often require an additional application and accept a limited number of applicants.
Open Admission  Some colleges offer admission to all students who apply. Such colleges usually have extensive programs designed to provide remedial or developmental help to students who enroll with academic deficiencies.

Track Deadlines

1. College Board Big Future College Application List - Students can track all deadlines for institutions they are interested in applying to.

2. Student Tracker - Students can use the ASPIRE Student Tracker to track important activities and deadlines.