How to start the college application process

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Ava Goforth

The college admissions process is underway and students are navigating how to apply.

The college application process is a standard procedure for all schools that can seem intimidating to students. Most colleges have the early decision deadline on Nov. 1, so students should get started on applications in order to meet the deadline.

Students can apply directly on colleges’ websites or they can use The Common App Application.

“[For] community college, you would actually apply through their website because the Common App does not cover them,” Holly Decabia, a Jupiter High guidance counselor, said.

The Common App is a popular online college application platform that includes more than 900 colleges that students can apply to. 

“The advantage of submitting the Common Application is that you can complete one application and send it to various schools,” Cindy Ferrara, a Jupiter High guidance counselor, said.

When creating an account for the Common App, create one under “first-year student” and use a personal email.

“One thing [students] should do is establish an email that is a typical, normal, professional email [to make their accounts with],” Ferrara said. “[The email should include students’] first name and last name @gmail.com.”

The application will ask for all recorded high school credit classes and extracurricular activities.

“You’re definitely going to need your resume. You’re going to have to have your recommenders picked out, and you should definitely always have on hand a copy of your unofficial transcript.””

— Holly Decabia, guidance counselor

The Common App asks for at least two teacher recommendations and a recommendation from a guidance counselor. Decabia suggests to get a recommender the student has a close relationship with.

“An English teacher that you’ve worked closely with is always a good recommender, and they actually write some of the best letters,” Decabia said. 

When using a teacher as a recommender, be sure to tell them at the end of junior year. 

Lillian Gilbert, an AP Language Composition teacher, has been a popular recommender for multiple students and prefers students to tell her in advance that they plan to use her as a recommender.

“It happens every [time in the beginning of the] year where I have some many [recommendation] letters to write, so many students asking for help with their college essays and I’m trying to teach an AP class so the more notice the better,” Gilbert said.

Most Colleges require at least one writing sample with a maximum 650 words. Students can ask for assistance from their english teacher.

“I would suggest writing something that they know and something that they can really develop that’s unique to them because they want to stand out.” Gilbert said.

Due to COVID-19 upending the ACT and SAT exams, multiple colleges have made submitting SAT or ACT scores optional. If a student does want to submit their scores, they can superscore.

“Superscoring works to a student’s advantage because it allows them to submit the highest scores in each subsection of the SAT or ACT to colleges that represent their best work in each category,” Ferrara said.

The Common Application will ask if students would like to apply for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a form for federal financial aid to pay for college.

“Everybody should apply for [FAFSA],” Decabia said. “There’s a huge misconception that people who can afford college won’t qualify for anything but that’s not true.”

For more assistance, talk to your guidance counselor.