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Understanding College Applications

Planning for college takes place right in the midst of the excitement of senior year. Students are closing one chapter of their lives and beginning another right away. It can be overwhelming remembering deadlines, writing essays, completing volunteer hours and focusing on graduating.

We’ve gathered all the key information to help students understand the basics of a college application.

Once they have identified their schools of choice it’s time to apply! However, before you start the application it is important to gather key information ahead of time. Sit with students to explore the admissions requirements including fees, deadlines, what documentation is required and more. Different schools have different requirements, so be sure to review their admissions website beforehand.

Official Transcript

A transcript is the official record of your coursework at a school. A student’s high school transcript is usually required for college admission and for some financial aid packages. Since seniors have not graduated at the time they are completing their college applications schools make a decision based upon their progress thus far and will review the transcript again after graduation. Most Louisiana colleges and universities can access in-state transcripts electronically through the Louisiana Department of Education. If your child is applying for a school outside of Louisiana, their guidance counselor will have to submit a sealed official copy transcript by mail to the school(s) of their choice.

SAT and/or ACT scores

Students should take the SAT and/or ACT as soon as they can. Most colleges require a review of SAT or ACT scores during the admissions process. While you don’t have to know your SAT or ACT score right away, it is important that when you sign up for the test you indicate you want the testing company to send an official copy of your scores to the colleges you plan on applying for. If you decide to apply for a school you didn’t send a copy of your scores to, simply log in to your SAT or ACT account and request your official scores to be sent to an additional school.* Note that an additional charge may occur to resend scores.

Application fee

Application fees can vary in price and when applying for multiple college fees can start to add up. Some colleges offer fee waivers which will allow you to complete the application at no cost based on an individual’s financial situation. If you are concern about fees reach out to your child’s guidance counselor or the university’s admissions office for more details.

Ask for recommendations early

Teachers and counselors are humans who have lives just like students. Students should ask for recommendations at least two weeks early so they can have time write the so many wonderful things about them.

Complete the essay early

Believe it or not, autocorrect does not catch all errors. Students shouldn’t procrastinate or rush to complete their essay without carefully reviewing it for grammatical errors. They should always give themselves time to have someone else proofread it.

Complete the application with your child to the best of your ability

Sometimes filling out so many applications can become frustrating. The school may ask for personal information that you may not know or have a definite answer to, but don’t be discouraged. Simply look for resources. The first stop would be the guidance counselor’s office if you don’t understand a term or question. You can also reach out to the admission counselors at the school they are applying for. These resources are designed to help and provide clarity during the application process.

Remember all of the deadlines

We wouldn’t want your child to miss out on their chance to apply for their dream school because they missed the deadline. Deadlines are set for a reason and are typically not flexible. Some schools may have an extended deadline, however; there will most likely be an extra fee. Always add important deadlines to a calendar and set reminders so no one forgets.

Check your email

We can’t stress this enough! Encourage your child to CHECK THEIR EMAIL! In college, email will be essential! Students should get into the habit of checking their email for important information from their future school. Updates about their application will come through via email. Most of the time acceptance messages are sent instantly via email before an official acceptance letter arrives in the mail.

Keep essays saved for future applications

Most applications ask for a personal statement or pose a question to learn a little more about them. They can work smart by saving their essays in one place to reference and pull information from for future applications.