What Should I Include in my College Application?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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Before you fill out a college application, take some time to do your homework about the schools you are interested in. Most college and university websites have information about how the Admissions staff evaluate the many requests for admittance they receive each year. Some schools give more weight to your academic history, while others want to see evidence of what kind of person you are before deciding whether to extend an offer of admission.

Make sure that you review the college application process carefully. Each school has deadlines that you must adhere to or your application may not be considered. Many colleges and universities use a standard application form, known as the "Common Application." Some of them will accept online or paper applications, and the school web site will let you know what form your application needs to take. You will need to pay an application fee or submit a fee waiver to each school you are interested in attending.

Your college application will also include your high school transcripts and the results of standardized tests. You can ask that your SAT or ACT scores be forwarded directly to the schools you are interested in attending. Each institution will have guidelines about whether you need to provide scores for specific subject areas as well as the Reasoning test. This information can be found on the school's web site.


Recommendations from your guidance counselor and teachers may be needed to complete your college application. Some schools will accept recommendation letters from employers or family members if they will provide more information about your character and work habits. The college or university wants to make sure that you are the kind of person who would be an asset to their institution.

Another item that may form part of your college application is a personal essay. The Admissions staff want to see how well you express yourself in written form as well as to learn something about what kinds of experiences have shaped your life and turned you into the person you are. You may be asked to answer one or two standard questions, to describe an event that had an impact on your life, or a person who has influenced you.

Since college life is more than just academics, applicants to some schools are asked for a list of activities they are involved in outside of school. You can include athletics, employment information, or community service activities on your list. The more information you can provide to the school on your college application, the better an idea they will get of who you are and why you would benefit from attending that school.



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