How to Apply for the College You've Dreamed About

Applying for college can be an intimidating task that often leaves prospective students confused. Depending on the type of institution chosen, the application and acceptance process can take as little as two weeks to several months. Despite these differences, there are key documents that every prospective student needs prior to acceptance.

First, all students must complete an application for admission. This is the initial application that collects basic demographic and academic information. Some of the information includes but not limited to the following: name, address, educational background, major, and goals. Although many colleges do not charge an application fee, some colleges and universities charge a non-refundable fee of $ 65.00 and above to simply process your application, which does not guarantee acceptance. Therefore, it is imperative for the applicant to make sure he / she meets all academic requirements prior to applying.

Second, prospective students must provide copies of their immunization records. It is important that these documents are signed and dated by a licensed physician. These records may be obtained at your physician's office, health department, or clinic. If you are a nontraditional student who was born before January 1, 1968, you are usually exempt from providing immunization records. However, all prospective students, both traditional and nontraditional, are required to provide some proof of immunization which includes 2 doses of the MMR Vaccination which includes Measles, Mumps, and Rubella. In addition, immunizations from Chicken Pox, Hepatitis B, and Tetanus Diphtheria are required.

Third, applicants must provide placement scores. This simply refers to the standardized test that is taken prior to college to determine skill level. Although there are some schools with an open enrollment policy and do not require a minimum score for acceptance, it is not uncommon for these schools to use these scores to determine if remediation is needed. Examples of placement tests are ACT, COMPASS, SAT, and ASSET. The type of scores accepted is contingent upon that institution's admissions requirements. Therefore, applicants are encouraged to do their best and prepare to provide the necessary proof to complete admission.

Forth, all applicants are required to provide an official transcript from any high school or college that he / she has previously attended. For recent high school graduates, students must provide an official high school transcript. If those students were concurrently enrolled in high school and college, transcripts from that college should be provided, as well. This ensures that minimum academic requirements are met and students are correctly classified based on hours (eg freshmen, sophomore, and etc). This also helps to ensure that financial aid is correctly distributed to pay for education.

There are three major characteristics of an official transcript. First, it must include the official seal of that institution. Second, it must include the signatures of school administrators. And third, the transcript must remain sealed until it is given to admissions or registrar. If the transcript is opened prior to submission, it is deemed as unofficial.

Fifth, some colleges may require letters of recommendations. Typically, these letters should include those who can serve as personal, academic, and professional references. These references can include close acquaintances, colleagues, instructors, and managers. Letters should include the content that thoroughly describes you as a person and scholar.

Finally, financial information should be completed – preferably before admission. This serves two major purposes: confirms payment and secures placement. There are various types of financial aid options that include: grants, loans, and scholarship. All applicants should initiate this process by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This form determines eligibility for the Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), which does not require repayment and is income based. In the event that the student is ineligible for this aid or learns that additional assistance is needed, this application helps to initiate the loan process, which typically requires repayment 6 months after graduation.

Applying for college can be an arduous process that leaves prospective students excited yet perplexed. However, understanding the requirements and providing the required information prior to deadlines can help eliminate frustration. Frequent visits to college websites and communication with counselors and advisors are just a few great strategies to stay abreast of admission updates. Following these simple steps can make this milestone a pleasant experience.

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