Applying to Colleges
Choose the schools to which you want to apply. These choices should be based upon your preferred area of study, your geographical interests, your financial picture, your SAT/ACT scores, and your GPA here at Banff. As a result of all of your research, you should have a good idea about your chances of being accepted into a program.
The general rule of thumb is to apply to one or two “This would be my dream” schools, several “I have a good chance” schools, and a few “I know I’ve got this!” schools. Be aware of when the colleges of your choice begin accepting applications as well as when the application window closes. The sooner you get your completed application in, the better your chances will be to get into your preferred college and major. Some schools have “Assured,” “Academic,” or “Automatic” admissions based on students’ test scores and GPA. However, you MUST complete and submit the application to qualify and gain admission. Again, submit your completed application as soon as possible; competitive and popular majors have a finite number of spots they will fill each year.
You should begin writing your college application essays IN THE SUMMER between your junior and senior years. Most colleges/common applications don’t change the essay topics every year. If they are going to change, an announcement might be made before the application window opens.
Also, use the summer before your senior year to become familiar with the different college applications you will complete. If the newest version isn’t available yet, look at the one used by the current college freshmen. Many schools will use one or more of several common applications, meaning you can fill out the application once and submit it to multiple schools.
There may be a section unique to a particular school, and the essay requirements may be different; this will become evident as soon as you select a school to which you want to apply. Two common applications tend to be the most used by students in Texas. ApplyTexas.org is where you will find the common application for all Texas public colleges as well as some private ones. It also provides information on the schools, including deadlines, application fees, and essay requirements. Other private universities and schools outside of Texas use the Common Application (commonapp.org---NOT the Texas common application), the Universal College Application, and/or the Coalition Application. In addition, some colleges have their own unique applications. Finally, some schools will accept multiple application types; you will choose only one to submit. As soon as the new application goes live, START FILLING IT OUT! You can save it as you complete sections; you probably won’t be able to do it all at once!
Ensure that your résumé, recommendation letters, and transcript requests are in your file in the office. Give the office staff ample notice as to when you need them sent to the different schools to which you are applying. Also, many schools have a form which you must print, fill out, and give to the office staff to send with your supplemental documents. This form ties your supplemental documents to your actual application, generally with an identification number which has been assigned to you by each college. Documents will be submitted electronically or mailed, as directed or needed by the college.
NOTE: If a college says that essays, recommendation letters, or anything else is optional, this DOES NOT apply to you! You want to give all the information that you can that will make you stand out from other applicants!
PAY ATTENTION TO APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS, OPENINGS, AND DEADLINES!!!! For example, Texas A&M and the University of Texas open their application process on August 1, and the deadline is December 1---PERIOD! NO EXCEPTIONS!!! Also, some colleges have early decision deadlines even before December 1.
Be aware of scholarship/financial aid deadlines---they come quickly! Parents need to be prepared to file income tax returns in January of your senior year so that the information is available to file the FAFSA (Free Application for Student Federal Aid). This has to be done to receive any type of scholarship or loan.
Take ownership of this process. Follow up. Call schools if you need help. Do everything you can in a timely fashion—procrastination can lead to disappointment!