Planning on Going to College? 5 Things You Need to Know About College Admissions

Applying and getting an acceptance to college is an experience unlike any other for students. However, the process can be downright overwhelming. You need to write entrance essays, keep your grades up, and take standardised entrance exams, among other requirements.

While the application and admission process will always be stressful, the more you understand it, the better you’ll manage, and more likely you’ll be to achieve your higher education goals. Here are things to know about college admission.

  1. Know the Application Process

Applying to college requires you to step outside your comfort zones, figure out long-term goals, and demonstrate why you deserve a spot at a particular school.

Picking the right college starts long before the application process. The components of college application include transcripts, letters of recommendation, essays and portfolios, and often times interviews.

Before even beginning an application, reflect and consider the big picture. A few questions you should ask yourself include:

  • Why do you want to go to college?
  • What do you intend to do after college?
  • What subjects did you enjoy in high school? Could any of them turn into a major or career?
  • What are your strengths, weaknesses, and personal interests? What could be possible majors to pursue?

College Application Deadlines

There are different deadlines when applying to colleges. First are early decision deadlines (ED), usually in November. Students who apply via ED will hear back from a college sooner than other applicants who turn in applications after the ED deadline.

Some colleges also have second early decision deadlines, ED II, which are usually in January. ED II admissions decisions occur in February.

You can also choose to apply via a school’s regular decision deadline, which can be as early as the first of January . If you apply through the regular decision, you’ll hear back from schools in mid-to-late March or early April.

College application deadlines are tight. For a deeper look into what you need to know, several blogs exist to give great guidance.

  1. What Test Is Required for Admissions?

Many, but not all, colleges require applicants to submit SAT or ACT scores. These tests are often used to assess college readiness, determine class placement, or determine scholarship eligibility in some cases.

Before you decide whether to take the ACT or SAT, you need some indication of how well you can perform on each test.


The SAT consists of three components: reading, writing and language, and maths. Test takers can score up to 1600 points.


The ACT covers four subject categories: English, maths, reading, and science. It also includes an optional writing section. The test has an average score of 20.8. Review ACT exam registration dates and prepare for the exam early.

  1. Grades and Test Scores Are Only Part of the Process

Grades and test scores are important factors in getting into colleges. However, admission officers understand you’re more than just your grades. Other factors colleges consider when admitting students include:

Extracurricular Activities

Whether in high school or beyond, participating in extracurricular activities can help set you apart from other applicants. Participating in extracurricular activities while maintaining good grades shows colleges you have time management skills, the ability to prioritise, and potential leadership qualities.

Internships and Volunteer Work

Colleges value students that show commitments to serving others. Internships and volunteer work show you have teamwork skills, time management skills, and altruistic qualities.

Awards and Recognition

Got an award for perfect attendance? Recognition for excellent work? Leadership recognition? Include them to make your college application stand out.

Awards and recognition’s don’t have to be academically related. They’re a great way to show you can contribute good qualities to the college.

  1. What Happens Once You’ve Been Accepted?

Once you’ve applied to all colleges you wish to attend, the schools will review and process your application. You’ll probably hear back from different colleges on different dates.

If accepted, respond before the deadline, which is usually May 1 of your senior year. You’ll also need to make a deposit to ensure enrolment.

And if you’re put on a wait list, consider other options. The chances of admission off a waiting list are pretty slim.

There are also other special acceptance situations, such as early admission. It’s easier to get into elite colleges and universities if you apply for an early decision. Note, you must commit to enrolling at that school if admitted.

  1. What are Your Options for Financial Help?

The average costs of private and public colleges in 2019-2020 are $10,116 (for public in-state), $22,577 (for public out-of-state), and $35,801 for private colleges.

And as college tuition and fees continue to rise each year, students and their families must find ways to cut costs and avoid crippling student debt.

Therefore, you may need to apply for financial aid. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after Oct. 1. This form determines your eligibility for federal and state student grants, work-study, and federal loans.

Other sources of financial aid include scholarships and grants from local and state funding, private foundations, non-profits, employer tuition assistance, and private financing.

Applying to college can be harrowing. You’ll only make it to the other side if you do your research and move out of your comfort zones. To improve your college acceptance chances, ace the standardised tests, apply to schools that are within your reach, and follow the directions on the applications.

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