College Application

Applying to college does not have to be a hard task, as long as you follow these steps!

Step 1: Get the Application

The first step in applying to college is to get an application.

Can you apply online? Can you call to request an application? Where else can you get an application? If it looks like there is an application in the course catalog, can you use that?

For most colleges, you can create an account to work on the application online and save your progress. You can call the school’s admissions office and ask them to send a college application to you. You can go to the college’s admissions office and pick one up. Course catalogs often include an application. But make sure it is up-to-date and for the year you wish to start attending.

If you are submitting a paper application, get two copies of the application. Use one for a practice copy and the other for the one you submit to the admissions office.

Even if you are planning to fill out an online application form, make sure to have a copy of your answers saved in another form, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Ask a friend or family member to read over your application to make sure all of the information is correct and stated properly.

Step 2: Gather Your Information 

Take some time to gather your information. Not all schools will ask for the same information but here is a list of items you will most likely need:

  • Social Security Number
  • Visa or permanent resident information
  • State driver’s license or identification card
  • Dates of high school attendance. Some schools may also ask you for the CEEB code for your high school. To get the CEEB code, visit the College Board website. If you did not attend high school in the U.S. you will not need a code.
  • Dates of college attendance (if you’ve taken college-level classes before)
  • The program and degree you’re interested in
If you are incarcerated or if you are an ex-offender:
Some applications may ask about your criminal history. Pay careful attention to the way they ask the question. Here is one example: Other than traffic offenses, have you ever been convicted of any felony or other crime? If you were charged with a felony but then acquitted, you can answer No to this question. If you are not sure about the type of convictions you have, you should get a copy of your record and learn about what is on it. You may want to correct mistakes, or change what people can see on it.
If you are from another country:
College applications usually ask your status: U.S. citizen, resident alien (they may ask for your green card number), refugee, or foreign citizen. (The college may ask for your passport, visa, and an I-20 form. You can find more information about student visas on the Education USA website. Click on “5 Steps to U.S. Study.”) You will probably have to show your high school transcript to prove that you graduated from high school. If the transcript is not in English, you will have to have it translated by an official translator. Private organizations will do credential evaluations for a fee, usually $100 or more. You can search on the Internet or in the phone book under credential evaluations for these businesses. The National Association of Credential Evaluation Services is one organization. Click on “How to Find a Member,” for a list of the current members.
If English is not your first language:

You may be required to submit a score from a special test, like the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The TOEFL tests to see if you can use and understand English at the college level. You have to pay to take the test. If it’s difficult for you to pay, ask to see if you are eligible for the fee waiver. Depending on where you take the test, it may be on a computer or on paper. Visit the Educational Testing Service website for more information, including test-taking tips, information for people with disabilities, how to register for the test, and more. From the home page, click on “TOEFL,” then click “Register for the test,” “About the test,” “Prepare for the test,” and other links for information you need. Here are two other websites to help you prepare for the TOEFL:

  • In the column on the left, click on “TOEFL.” Read the Exam Description, then click on “Start the Exam” to take a practice test.
  • Click on the “TOEFL” tab for information about the test, and free practice questions.

Your local library also has materials to help you prepare. There are face-to-face and online courses for a fee. You can search online to find them Finally, be sure to check with the school to learn about other requirements if English is not your first language.

If you are applying to a four year college
If you are applying to a four year college or university, depending on your age, you may be required to take the SAT and ACT. Scores from the the SAT and ACT are used for college admission and some merit-based scholarships. For information about testing fees, schedules, and practice tests visit the SAT College Board website or the ACT website.

Step 3: Fill Out a Practice Copy of the Application

Read the instructions for the application carefully.

Do not submit messy applications or applications with mistakes. Do a practice copy first. Doing a practice copy allows you to:

Adjust your typing

Sometimes your typing is misspelled. Sometimes your grammar is not correct.

Adjust your handwriting

Sometimes your handwriting is too big. Sometimes your handwriting is too small.

Correct your mistakes

Sometimes there are mitsakes mistakes.

Change your answers.

For example: if you put your home phone number on the practice form, you can change it and put your cell phone number instead.
After you have checked your answers carefully on the practice form, copy them to a clean form that you will submit to the college.

Step 4: Submit the Application

Keep a hard copy of your application. You want to make sure that you can fill out another copy quickly if your application is lost in the mail or if your computer is not working properly and won’t send the application.

If you are filling out an application form online, do not click the “Submit” button until you or someone else has checked your application carefully to make sure that you answered all of the questions and that your grammar and spelling are correct.

You should check the application instructions for a deadline date. If there is a deadline, make sure you submit the application by that date.
Rolling Admissions
At some colleges, and at most community colleges, applications can be submitted anytime. This is called rolling admissions. However, you cannot start classes as soon as you receive your acceptance letter. You must wait until the beginning of the next semester.
At most community colleges you will receive a letter of acceptance or a phone call within a few weeks after you’ve submitted your application. Four-year colleges can take longer, and may have specific schedules for responding to applicants. The acceptance letter will probably include the name of your advisor, information about financial aid, a school calendar, and information about placement testing.

What’s Next?
Now that you know how to complete your college application, it’s time to learn about the Placement Tests you will be required to take.