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09/04/2019

How does college application work?

QUESTION
How does college application work?
I understand the basics of transcript, recommendation letters, SAT scores, and essays but how do you pull everything together as send them to a college? Do you send scores yourself and how do you confirm that everything has been sent?

ANSWER
Most applications are done online, for some colleges that is the only way without asking for an exception. Many colleges use the Common Application, which you’ll likely do online, but in the meantime check out the PDFs here: https://www.commonapp.org/CommonApp/Down…

Some colleges use other applications, the procedures will be similar to those I describe for the Common App, just read the instructions carefully on each app.

You want to fill out a practice Common App the summer before 12th if you’ll be using it, it takes a lot longer than it might seem. The proper Common App doesn’t come out until you start 12th, but use the older one as practice and to go off of, not much will change.

Someone at your school will send in the transcripts, there might be a specific way you request them. My son’s school uses Naviance software, the students make requests through Naviance.

The teacher (2 for many colleges) and counselor recommendations are typically done online. When you need another recommendation, like from an arts teacher, or a personal recommendation (it will say on the Common App supplemental applications each college has), your school will have a policy on that. At my son’s school, students may not touch recommendations, so they give the teacher a stamped envelope. Even for auditions when the applicant is supposed to hand deliver the recommendation, the school will instead mail it early to the right department.

Your essays are generally either typed in a box online, or uploaded as a doc onto the Common Application. Be sure to type it in Word and save and then copy and paste for the boxes. Also, be sure you don’t go over the word/character count, even if it lets you. For character count, use the count “with spaces” so you won’t go over.

The SAT scores are sent directly from CollegeBoard. Some colleges require all scores, for those colleges, use your free score reports, which you can order when you sign up to take the SAT. The free score reports expire in a short time, so then you pay $11 per report to a school. It takes time to send the reports, sometimes 2 to 3 weeks, so keep that in mind.

Some colleges have websites where they confirm what they’ve received, apps, supplemental apps, recommendations, test scores, etc. Some are vague, like “letter of recommendation” (which isn’t that helpful when 2 are being mailed in), some have more detail. My son has had to contact his advisor at some colleges (some have advisors that handle certain areas) to make sure recommendations that were mailed were received. Other times he sent an email to admissions or that particular department if that’s where the letter went.

Good luck!