Applying to College
by Mariana Salama
Are you applying to college this year? If yes, you have come to the right place!
In this article I will cover how to apply to college, the FAFSA process, and much more!
The college process is very intimidating, but do not fear, this article is here to help!
Steps To Apply To College:
1. Create a college list. List schools that you are interested in attending. This list should be composed of your safety schools, your reach schools(schools that you may not get accepted into), and schools you are likely to gain acceptance.
2. Write your college essay. The prompts are linked here: https://www.commonapp.org/apply/essay-prompts
3. Create a Common Application account. Link: https://www.commonapp.org/
4. Ask your teachers/guidance counselor for letters of recommendation via email. AFTER they respond to your email, request their letter of recommendation through Naviance, where they will upload it.
5. For requesting a guidance counselor letter of recommendation, you must go to: Nottingham’s school website, go to “Our School,” “Guidance Counselors,” “Applying to College,” and scroll all the way to the bottom till you see “request guidance counselor letter of recommendation.” Fill it out.
6. Fill out the Records Release Form. Without this form, Nottingham will not be able to send any of your information to colleges. How to fill out the Records Release Form: go to Nottingham’s school website, go to “Our School,” “Guidance Counselors,” “Applying to College,” and scroll all the way to the bottom till you see “records release form” if you are 18 years old, you may fill it out yourself. If you are younger than 18, your parent/guardian has to fill it out.
7. Add your colleges to your common app account and begin filling in the questions in your common app. Also, add your college essay to your common application.
8. Make sure to check which schools accept the common app, and which schools do not. For example, Rutgers has their own specific application, whereas over 900 schools use the common app.
9. Remember, some schools may have supplements or other smaller essay questions you must answer.
10. Complete your FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is a form completed by current and prospective college students in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid. You will fill this out for every year you are in college.
11. Consider completing the EOF, another form of financial aid, and the HESSA for schools you are applying to in New Jersey.
12. Also, consider applying to third party scholarships through Naviance/College Board. Check your emails for scholarship opportunities!
13. For every college you apply to, you must go to Nottingham’s school website, go to “Our School,” “Guidance Counselors,” “Applying to College,” and scroll all the way to the bottom till you see “send initial transcript” here, you will indicate which letters of recommendation you want to be sent to each school.
14. Make sure to submit all of your applications before the deadlines.
There are 3 deadlines:
- Early Decision: This is BINDING. Meaning that if you get accepted into this college, you must go there and nowhere else. This is due November 1st.
- Early Action: This is NON-Binding. Meaning, you can get accepted to several colleges and choose which one you want to go to. This is due November 1st.
- Regular Decision: This is NON-Binding. Apply wherever, and choose where you want to go. This is due December 1st.
Why apply early?
- You will get your decision at the end of December. Christmas present woohoo! If you apply for a regular decision you will get your decision in March.
- You are automatically entered into scholarships, you will receive more money for college.
Q&A from Mr. Middleton Associate Director of Admissions for TCNJ
1. Why do students have a higher chance of acceptance depending on their chosen major?
“Colleges and Universities tend to reach their maximum capacity and run into supply and demand issues. Biology, for example, will have a limited amount of available space depending on the lab availability.”
2. Since most colleges are test-optional now what will admissions counselors do differently to reach a decision?
“We will look at every single aspect of a student’s transcript. We will be looking at grades, the rigor of the courses taken, and if the student challenged themself. We will look at the senior courses taken and the first marking period grades will be very important.”
3. How much weight does the essay have on admissions?
“When we view the essay/letters of recommendation, we are already leaning towards a decision. The essay serves as a tie-breaker.”
4. Why are colleges in New Jersey so much more expensive than other colleges in North Carolina or Maine?
“New Jersey is a very expensive state. Although the schools initially appear to be expensive, they grant more scholarships, lessening the “Ticket Price” of schools.”
5. What are the benefits of attending college/university in New Jersey?
“We offer really really strong academics, as well as a prime location. 45 minutes away from major cities such as Philly, and from the shore.”
3 Tips from Ms. Schiavoni!
1. I advise students to sign up for a dedicated email for college applications and scholarships. That way A) you will never miss a notification - if you're getting a lot of emails things might get buried or missed. A dedicated email means everything that comes to that email deals with college. And B) you can make sure it's a nice, professional email.
2. Use a calendar associated with that email and put in ALL your deadlines and reminders- deadlines for getting your application in, reminders to match your accounts, open houses you want to attend, phone calls you need to make. That way, you can keep things straight and not miss your deadlines. Let's face it: if your college deadline is the same day as your huge paper for science and an AP English essay, you can plan your strategy.
3. Apply for EVERY SINGLE scholarship you think you might get. I know people who put their first year tuition together $200 at a time on Fastweb. Every year, we have scholarships no one applies for, money that is unclaimed. Your competition for a $50,000 scholarship for Discover is huge. But there are hundreds and thousands of scholarships out there. Go to Fastweb.com and register, (using your new email) and apply for everything they send you. We have tons of local scholarships you can find in Naviance.
Good luck! Remember, you got this!