Preparing for College Checklist
- Ensure you have taken all necessary courses to graduate on time.
- Sign up to take college placement exams, if necessary.
- Take ACT/SAT; seek waiver if eligible via your high school and/or through ACT or SAT websites.
- Set up appointments with your guidance counselor to discuss college choices and potential majors.
- Research colleges and majors. Set up tours and visits if you able to do so.
- Complete the FAFSA (fafsa.ed.gov) as soon as possible. The form is posted annually starting Oct. 1. Many states and colleges have specific deadlines for applying for state and institutional aid. You can find your state’s deadline at fafsa.ed.gov/deadlines and check with your college about other deadlines.
- Search for scholarships and financial aid.
- Request high school transcripts to be sent to colleges.
- Request letters of recommendation for scholarships and college applications that require them. Try to do this at least one month in advance.
- Draft college essays. Have at least one person review the draft.
- Complete and send off applications. Start early in the process and submit before the deadline. Apply by the fall of your senior year at the latest.
- Avoid the summer melt. Stay on top of important information colleges may request, such as forms related to on-campus housing, immunizations, financial aid and new student orientations.
Factors in the Admission Decision
Factors in the Admission Decision: First-Time Freshmen
A second set of factors were most often considered to be moderately important. These factors tendto provide insight regarding personal qualities and interest of students, as well as more detail on academic performance. They include essays or writing samples; teacher and counselor recommendations; student’s demonstrated interest; class rank; and extracurricular activities.
A final group of admission decision factors were given moderate or considerable importance by a small percentage of institutions, on average, likely because they are relevant only to a small subset of colleges. These factors included subject test scores (AP, IB), portfolios, SAT II scores, interviews, state graduation exam scores, and work experience.
Factors in the Admission Decision: International Students
The moderately important decision factors also were similar to those for domestic students, with a few exceptions worth noting. Nineteen percent of colleges rated the essay/ writing sample as considerably important for domestic students, compared to 23 percent for international students. For international students, the essay can serve as another indicator of English proficiency in addition to offering information about student experiences and academic interests.
A national certificate signifying graduation or school attendance was also an important factor for international students, rated as considerably important by 28 percent of institutions and as moderately important by an additional 24 percent.
Factors in the Admission Decision: Transfer Students
For transfer students, many factors related to high school performance fall to the level of moderate to limited importance, including grades, strength of the high school curriculum, and recommendations from teachers and counselors.
In contrast to first-time prospective students, 77 percent of colleges rated admission test scores (SAT, ACT) as having limited or no importance in transfer admission decisions.