Understand the Types of Admissions Applications

  • Early Decision: Applications are binding, which means that an applicant who is accepted as an ED is contractually obligated to attend that college and must withdraw all other university applications

  • Single-Choice/Restricted Early Action: Admissions plans are binding and more restrictive. Students may not to apply to any other colleges while in this process.

  • Early Action: applications are not binding. Applicants receive early admission notifications, but do not have to commit to the college until May 1.

  • Regular Decision: The vast majority of applications will have one regular decision deadline that occurs in January/February. These deadlines may also be called “Priority Deadlines” If admitted students have until May 1 to commit.

  • Rolling Decision: Typically admissions applications are accepted year-round and until incoming class spots have been filled.

Application Options

  • The Common Application: The Common Application is a universal application that is accepted by more than 900 private and public colleges and universities nationwide. For students applying to more than one college, this application will save you time.

  • Coalition Application: The Coalition Application is a platform where 150+ colleges and universities express their commitment to provide lower-income, under-resourced and/or first-generation students support.

  • Common Black College Application: Accepted by 60 historically Black colleges and universities throughout the country.

  • Institution Specific Application: Many colleges require specific college admissions applications from their institution. Applications will be found on the college/university admissions website.

  • Oregon Degree Partnership Admissions Program Applications: These programs may also be called Dual Enrollment or Co-Admission programs. Public universities in Oregon have partnerships with community colleges where students can choose to be enrolled in both colleges. Students are required to apply to both colleges and/or complete a separate application to be dual enrolled. Search “Dual Enrollment” on the website of the university/college you would like to attend for specifics about each school’s process.

Research and Prepare

This tool allows you to keep all important college application information in one place. Using this tool that is easily accessed online you are able to store college (and scholarship) information needed for applications, note deadlines, create your activity chart, and save usernames/passwords in one location.

  • Determine top colleges/universities of interest – Based on your career interests, choose colleges with academic programs that meet your needs. Other considerations may be your ability to meet minimum admission requirements, the type of college, location, size, campus culture, in person vs. online courses, or whether a school has certain athletic programs, clubs, activities or affiliations.

  • Narrow interest school list and create a list of 5-6 schools you want to apply to. It’s best to apply to a variety of schools to be able to compare academic programs and financial aid packages. Submitting 5-6 college applications is suggested. Applying to 2 Dream, Target and Safety Schools, for a total of 6 college applications will increase the chance of acceptance into at least one college.

  • Eligibility Requirements are the basic requirements required for incoming students and can vary from school to school. GPA, HS course requirements, and/or College Standardized Test scores may be considered for admission. The school may also consider other factors that may predict academic success in school. Requirements for each school are found on a college or university’s admissions page. Oregon Public Universities Undergraduate Admissions Requirements

  • Applications Open – Colleges and universities typically open their applications August 1. Some universities with rolling admission accept applications year-round.


  • Complete Application: Don’t rush this process. Take your time and submit all required documents

  • Admission Essay: Many college applications require students to include an essay that answers a prompt. Tips for Writing an Effective Application Essay

  • Standardized Admissions Test Scores: see below

  • Letter of Recommendation: Schools, scholarships, or certain programs may want a Letter of Recommendation. These are 1-2 page letters from someone who can speak to your character, talents, merit or leadership - typically an adult who taught, coached or supervised you. Teachers, mentors, coaches, a supervisor at your job or volunteer organization, and youth pastors make great recommenders.

  • Application Fees Many colleges require applications fees that range from $25 - $100. Fee application waivers may be requested and are usually available for low-income students. Students and families can visit the College Board, Common App or NACAC website to learn about eligibility requirements

Admissions Standardized Tests

Four-year colleges and universities may require that a standardized test be taken to apply for admissions. Find out whether a standardized test is required on the college admissions website. If required, note if the school has a preference for which standardized test, they prefer prospective students to take.

When should I take my Test?

SAT or ACT Tests should be taken during the spring of a student’s junior year of high school. If desired, students may take tests multiple times to improve scores.

Why would I take a standardized test if my college/university doesn’t require it for admission?

Though many colleges have chosen to go “test optional” many still require SAT or ACT test scores to be considered for institutional scholarships. In addition, many scholarship applications still require scores.

What is the difference between the ACT and SAT Standardized tests?

The goals for the two tests are the same: to determine whether you are ready for college. It is important to understand the difference between the ACT and SAT tests to make sure you choose the one that will best reflect your knowledge.

How do I decide which test to take?

Both tests are widely accepted and so students are left to consider which test to take. First, a student should consider whether the colleges they apply to prefer one test over the other. Beyond that it becomes a personal choice. Over the last few years there has been an increased number of students opting to take both tests to see how their results fair. Many then opt to retake the test they did best on after some additional practice, to boost the scores they send to their top choice colleges in the fall.

How do I prepare for standardized Tests?

Practicing for the SAT and ACT Tests have come a long way over the years. Practice tests are the most important element for performing at high levels on standardized tests. Practice, practice, practice!

How much do standardized tests cost?

Placement Tests at Oregon Community Colleges

The ACT or SAT tests are not required to attend community colleges. However, most community colleges require that students take placement tests to determine which level of a class is the best fit for students (for example: Math 95 vs. Math 111).