Applying for colleges can be a stressful and time consuming process if not done correctly. Making sure you are organized and set to go before beginning will make the application process noticeably smoother.

 Find your Top Schools

There are thousands of colleges and universities across the country and attempting to apply for fifty isn’t very realistic. One of the first things you should do, when applying for college, is to find a list of between five and ten schools. Each of these schools need to offer a major or two that you are interested in entering and be in a location where you can see yourself living. Then look at the size of each school and determine if you can handle going to a university with 40,000 other students. Websites can give a huge amount of information regarding academics, athletics, school activities, dorming, and a variety of other subjects. If you are considering a school nearby, take a few hours to go on a tour. The atmosphere of a school can be a huge deciding factor.


When you have a list of schools you can see yourself attending, it is time to break down what each offer and require. Some will require letters of recommendation, official or unofficial transcripts, proof of residency information, as well as information regarding driver’s licenses and birth certificates. You should write a separate list for each school to limit confusions and mix ups. These lists will be a huge help for guidance counselors or college counselors that your current school offers. By knowing exactly what you need, you won’t have to make guesses or cause more work for the counselors. Many of the schools will want the same items, if you keep each stack of paperwork in separate folders, you will be able to see exactly what you have and still need to get.


Before beginning to fill out the applications, you should give yourself plenty of time to sit down and write out any necessary documents. Many schools will either require a personal essay, give you a topic to write about, or ask for both. Your essays give the Admissions Department a look into your thought processes and explanatory skills. An excellent essay can greatly affect the outcome of your application. When you have written a rough draft, give one copy to someone you trust to look over and another to a teacher or guidance counselor. Their input and another set of eyes for grammatical errors can be invaluable. Because many required essays might revolve around similar topics, having a solid basis can make writing the others much easier.


Once all the steps have been taken care of, it is time to sit down and fill out the application. Most schools are now offering online applications that can be saved if you need to take a break. It is best to sit down with a parent or guardian because their personal, occupational, and monetary information may be needed. They can also help you reword sentences or offer information you may have forgotten. When it is finished, go back and double or even triple check that all the necessary information is provided and that the information is correct. Once you have turned it in, you don’t want to have to go back and do it again because of some silly mistake.


Applying for colleges doesn’t need to be difficult and stressful. By utilizing information, staying organized, and asking for a little help, you will insure your chances of success are as high as possible.