College Application Process
Once you've made the decision where you want to go to college, or at least narrowed down your choices, then you can begin the process of completing college applications.
The application itself is going to vary widely from one college to another, and many colleges now encourage online applications, even to the point of only accepting online applications. Some applications are quite brief, while others are several pages that also require many attachments or other documentation.
As a rule of thumb, many applications require (1) three letters of recommendation, (2) one or two essays and (3) a listing of extracurricular activities as well as community service or other volunteerism. Your recommendation letters should come from teachers that know you very well and that will be able to list your strengths, your interests, and what sets you apart from other students. The college may require that your guidance counselor compose a letter on your behalf, so it's an excellent idea to have developed a relationship with your high school counselor so that they know you well enough to write a letter of recommendation. Be sure that you have a complete list of all your extracurricular activities (clubs, sports, employment) and volunteerism, including years you participated, any role you played as an officer or leader, and your detailed involvement in each club or activity. If your high school requires community service for graduation, be sure that you have completed all required paperwork to properly document your service.
Generally, colleges accept admission applications from mid-December through the beginning of March for fall semester admission. The school will likely send out early decision acceptance letters before Christmas break begins. All other admission decisions begin to arrive during the spring semester, and usually no later than early April, depending on when you submitted your application for admission.
Before you submit an application or any required attachments, be sure to carefully proofread everything at least twice. Ask at least two people to read through your application, particularly any essays you compose. Your high school English teacher is a great resource for providing feedback on grammar and content. Your application should be complete; when you are ready to submit, double-check to ensure that all required forms and attachments are sbumitted with the application.
For a free College Application Checklist form, check out The College Board's version at the following link: The College Board College Application Checklist