A college application usually involves a great deal of paperwork, including school transcripts, standardized test scores, and financial aid information. Some also require a written portion, detailing information of a personal and scholastic nature. Many colleges also like to supplement the main application with letters of recommendation and requests for a long essay or short answers to several questions.
The extensive paperwork involved can make completing a college admissions application quite time consuming. Most high school administrations, however, will handle the delivery of the transcript, and testing services will deliver test scores. Most college applications require that an application fee be paid before it can be considered by the admissions department, but colleges may waive this fee for certain applicants.
If a student intends to apply for financial assistance from the government, a detailed financial aid application should be completed and sent to the college. Scholarships that base decisions on the applicant's financial status will often require similar proof of financial need. Like transcripts and test scores, the financial aid application is usually delivered to colleges by a third party.
While outside parties begin their portion of the college admissions application, the student should concentrate on completing the main, written application. The written application is important for its emphasis on the student's qualifications and merits both academically and personally.
A college admissions application generally begins with a section for basic, personal information such as name, date of birth, ethnicity, and gender. For statistical purposes or for legacy consideration, some colleges may also include a section for a list of family members who are alumni.
One of the most important sections on a college admissions application is the space reserved for detailing extracurricular activities, volunteer roles, awards and other relevant, non-academic information. This portion of the application highlights the specific qualities that each applicant can offer a school. Not every club membership or volunteer service should be listed, however. Only the most meaningful positions, awards, and activities that reflect dedication and effort over a period of time should be included. If the student feels that a brief description is not sufficient to properly describe the extent of his or her involvement, many colleges provide a section for additional information that can be used by the student to supplement or clarify a part of the application.
Essay and short answer questions are the portions of the application that reflect what each college is looking for in an applicant and act as the student's personal statement. The admissions department uses the essay to gather information on the applicant's personality and character. Some essay topics may require answers of a more creative nature, while other questions are more straightforward.
The process of filing a college admissions application has been streamlined by online services, which provide a standard application used by participating schools. The basic application is the same, but supplements are added by each college. While a student may only need to complete one basic application, he or she should pay close attention to any college-specific supplements, like essays and letters of recommendation.