Before deciding which colleges to apply to it is very important that you spend a significant amount of time researching which colleges best match your interests and your qualifications. Your counselor can help guide you through this process. A good place to start your college search is by using several of the college search engines that can be found in our College Internet Resources section. These programs can help you to search for schools that meet the criteria, which you and your parents have established for what you are looking for in a college. Before beginning your computer search you should try to answer the following questions?

In what kind of geographical location would you be most comfortable attending college? To answer this question you should think about things like how far away from home you want to be, and whether you will be more comfortable in an urban, suburban, or rural environment.

  • Do you prefer a large college, medium sized college, or small college?
  • Do you prefer a state sponsored school or a private school?
  • What would you like to study?
  • How much can you and your parents afford to spend for college? You should not eliminate any college because of tuition costs because you do not know how much financial aid a college might help you with. You do need to keep in mind though that some financial aid packages do not meet all of a family’s financial needs.
  • Are there particular activities or sports that you would like to pursue in college?
  • What is your cumulative grade point average and best SAT score? How do these figures compare with the average student at the schools you are looking at?

These are just some of the questions that you should ask yourself before starting your college search. Once you have identified schools that spark your interest you should begin to research schools. This can be done by visiting college web pages, looking at school view books and videos, talking to current and former students from the school, and visiting colleges.

Once you have decided to apply to a college it is very important that you do a careful job preparing your application. Many schools prefer that you apply online. It is a good idea to print out any online application form before submitting it so that your parents and your counselor can check it over. Remember that the application form is a snapshot of you and it should be perfect. An English teacher or other knowledgeable adult should also proofread your essays before you submit them. If you submit a paper application make sure that it is typed and complete.

Whenever you apply to a college you must have a Records Release Form completed, signed by a parent or guardian, and returned to the guidance office. Many colleges also require that you download a counselor information form. This form should be printed out and brought in to the guidance office. The guidance office will complete this form and mail it to the college along with your transcript as long as you have submitted a signed records release form. You must bring a stamped and addressed envelope for each college that you request a transcript be sent to.

You must make sure to have your SAT scores sent directly to each college from the College Board. You do not need to request that your scores be sent to any schools that you indicated on your SAT registration form. If you did not indicate a college on the registration form that you want to apply to then you must request that the scores be sent. You can do this by accessing your SAT account at www.collegeboard.com. Make sure to have your user name and password to access the account. You will need a credit card to pay the fee to have your scores sent.

Some colleges will also require you to submit letters of recommendation from your counselor or from one or more of your teachers. It is important that you ask teachers that think highly of you to write recommendations for you. Letters of recommendation should come from teachers of academic subjects. Once you have decided which teachers you would like to write your recommendations you must ask each teacher for his or her recommendation. If he or she agrees to write a recommendation for you then you must provide the teacher (s) with a stamped and addressed envelope for each school for which you need the recommendation. It is also a good idea to provide each person writing a recommendation for you with a resume highlighting your interests and accomplishments.

If you need a recommendation from a counselor he or she may ask you to complete a Counselor Information Sheet. It is important that you do a thorough job of completing the information sheet. The information that you provide about yourself on this sheet will help your counselor to write a good letter of recommendation for you. You should also make sure to meet with your counselor to discuss your college interests and plans. This will help your counselor to know you better and it will provide him or her valuable information that he or she can include in your recommendations.

Please pay close attention to deadlines for applications. Keep a calendar to record when applications are due for different schools. If you are considering applying for early decision make sure to discuss your options with your guidance counselor. Also, keep a separate file for each college that you apply to. Some colleges may require you to submit your midyear grades. Make sure to notify the guidance office if this is the case.

For more information about finding and applying to colleges click on the following links.

College Application Calendar

College Application FAQ’s

Application Checklist – electronic applications (PDF file)

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