Understanding College Applications – What You Need To Know!
The senior year of high school, a year of wonder and experiences, but also for many, one of great fear and anticipation, especially in regards to the mystical vale of secrecy behind the college application review process at most universities & colleges. As I was previously an Admission Officer for Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), I will try and demystify this process and give you some hints at what admission offices are looking for.
To begin, most college application materials for universities include an:
- Application Fee
- Official High School Transcript
- Test Scores (ACT/SAT)
- List of extracurricular activities
- Essay (recommended usually, but required for some)
- Letters of recommendation (recommended usually, but required for some).
When getting ready to apply to schools it is a good idea to have these seven organized so that they are easy to retrieve, doing this will lessen the burden when you do apply.
Most colleges/universities will have deadlines that are either set, where materials must be postmarked by a certain date, rolling, where they accept and make decisions on applications between certain dates (e.g. 11/1 – 4/1) or open, where they will accept and make decisions on applications year round. Make sure to check deadlines with colleges so that your materials are received by the said date (if there is one). After all materials are received, then, and only then can the admissions review begin.
The review process usually will constitute a thorough read by an admission officer, many times one that is assigned to your high school or district/regional area. This person will be looking at everything that you have sent in and evaluating you on these materials. Each university/college has their own unique system that they use to evaluate students. Some will use a point system, where you will receive points for varying criteria such as academic rigor, involvement, GPA, test scores, etc. Many specialty schools (e.g. Kendall College of Art & Design, Center for Creative Studies) expect certain academic criteria, but they will base a large part of their admission decision on the talents or abilities that a student brings to that certain area.
On a final note, the review methods used by a college/university many times are veiled in secrecy, where generality is key and little detail surfaces if not inquired about. Also, the review methods today merely scratch the surface of the types of evaluation instruments that colleges/universities use today. Saying this, I advise you all to inquire about the particular review process that your college of choice uses, this will ease confusion and tension, and make you the information savvy consumer.
By taking little steps toward understanding and making yourself informed, the college admission process at a college/university becomes known, and the mystery within the process begins to wane. Become informed and you will not be sorry.
Want more information about the College Search and Preparation process? Learn more about the Ultimate College Preparation Blueprint that can assist you along the way!