College Application Tips

Application Processing

  • Most colleges prefer on-line applications. If you prefer a hard copy application, contact the school directly. Copies of the College Handbook are available in the Career Center as well. Contact the colleges directly for their individual financial aid forms and scholarship books applications.

  • Colleges and Universities have been accepting applications earlier. Most schools however, begin accepting applications in October. Check your application due dates and if the college requires testing other than the SAT or ACT.

  • Some schools ask for a recommendation, but not all colleges and universities want them. Please read the application requirements carefully. If you do need a recommendation from a teacher, contact that teacher and ask them personally. You might consider giving them a resume of your accomplishments and any other information that may help in the writing process. The same teacher recommendation can be used for multiple applications (with possibly a few minor changes that your teacher can easily make). Give your teacher plenty of notice. If they are required to mail them directly to the school, provide a stamped, addressed envelope for each school. Make sure you follow the schools specific directions.

  • If you need a counselor recommendation, please make an appointment as soon as possible (allowing at least two weeks). Writing a thorough, comprehensive recommendation takes time. The earlier you contact your counselor the better. They will go over the process with you -- best to meet with your counselor before jumping into the process.

  • Transcripts are $2.00 each. Make your payment at the ASB office, bring your receipt to the registrar and attach it to a completed order form (available on her counter). Please remember that Janet Anderson, the registrar. is helping all seniors needing information sent to various colleges. Please don't wait until the last minute. She, too, needs time to process your required documentation. Janet Anderson will tell you when to pick it up. Mailing your transcript, either separately or with your application packet, is your responsibility.
  • Application and transcript requests will be processed in the order they were submitted. Be sure and sign your application and make copies of everything. If your signature is required for on-line registration, print a hard copy of the application signature page and to be included with your transcript.

Useful Information

College admissions counselors look most favorably at students cumulative academic
achievement and willingness to take rigorous classes. Using a comprehensive review
process, admissions personnel look at an essay or personal statement, leadership
opportunities, contributions to the community, individual circumstances, and distinctive
attributes. While included in the mix, standardized test scores rarely are the decisive

Distinguishing factors that had a positive impact on college applications include:*

  • Taking a full academic load through senior year, including math through pre-calculus or
  • Taking 3 or 4 years of the same foreign language.
  • Taking 4 years of science - including chemistry and physics.
  • While advanced classes such as Honors, Running Start, and/or IB are outstanding
    options for many students, taking a full schedule of core classes can be equally impressive in the application review.
  • Perseverance in the face of significant hardship.
  • Potential contributions to the community such as multiculturalism, exceptional talent,
    leadership, "heart", and passion for a subject, activity or cause.
  • Well-written personal statement that helps colleges get to know what is important to a
    student and/or to understand academic choices and personal circumstances.
  • Sustained involvement and leadership, rather than occasional or one-time participation
    in extracurricular activities.
  • Students who list activities that occurred for one hour or one-half day generally lose
    credibility in the review process.
  • Being involved in a risk taking situation, such as going on exchange, standing up for one's
    beliefs, or accepting new challenges stand out.

Here are some areas where students hurt themselves on college applications:*

  • Little or no academic course work beyond the core requirements, even though options
    were available.
  • Too many capable students who mistakenly assume that simply meeting core
    requirements is sufficient or that the senior year is not important.
  • Ongoing struggles in math. With quantitative reasoning being the #1 stumbling block for
    freshmen, all college-bound students need 3-4 years of math.
  • Not fulfilling core requirements for Chemistry or Physics.
  • Sporadic or negative grade trends, frequently followed by an across the board drop in
    curricular rigor.
  • Poor presentation; not taking the time to put the best foot forward; missing deadlines;
    failing to follow up on requests for additional information.

*Summarized from Western Washington University's Admissions Office We Admit Newsletter,
March 2005