Challenging girls to become women of 
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Applying To College

The Application

  • The application serves the purpose of identifying the student to the college through personal data (name, address, high school, etc.) and narratives (the personal statement or essay).  
  • Applications can be accessed on a college’s website. Colleges are not alike and application forms may vary significantly. 
  • Many four-year institutions accept The Common Application. Many schools that use the Common Application also require additional supplements.
  • An application fee of $20-$70 is usually required for each application which is non-refundable, even if the application is rejected. Fee waivers are available if the family meets certain economic guidelines.
  • Seniors should adhere to deadline dates specified by each college. In most instances, college applications should be submitted as soon as possible. On occasion, deadline dates for applying are no more than a guideline: a college may stop accepting applications earlier than its final date if it fills its class or particular program before then; or a college may continue to accept applications beyond the deadline if it still has room for more students.

The Essay

In addition to the personal essay portion of The Common Application, increasingly, colleges are adding supplementary short-answer questions to their process. Most college-bound students approach the task of writing a personal essay and supplements for college admissions with some trepidation and a few questions: How important is the essay? What do colleges look for? How is it used? Who reads it? These and other questions are addressed in Senior Group and in individual meetings with students. The College Guidance office works with students to put the essay and supplements into perspective and helps the student produce her best effort. 

This body of writing is the student's opportunity to take charge of the information the college receives about her, and to provide information that does not appear in grades, test scores, and other materials. It allows the girl to reveal her intelligence, talent, sense of humor, enthusiasm, maturity, creativity, expressiveness, sincerity, and writing ability—traits that count heavily in the admissions evaluation.

The Interview

When it comes time to deliberate applications, it helps admissions officers advocate for a particular girl if they can put a face and a personality to the written materials before them. College interviews also tend to help students clarify the features they want in the college they eventually will attend. Some colleges require an interview as part of the admission process but most do not.

Though many colleges will state that their interviews are non-evaluative (i.e. the interview will not be considered as part of the application portfolio), admissions officers will not forget an engaging and stimulating conversation with a potential applicant.

Students should avoid a nonscheduled "drop-in" to an admissions office. However, if an opportunity to visit a college at the last minute presents itself, the student should be courteous and understanding about what the admissions staff is able to accommodate. Sometimes the student may join a tour; rarely, the student may find that an interview time is available due to a cancellation. Nevertheless, "dropping in" is discouraged and is not a productive way to visit a college.

If the student would like to see a coach or a faculty member in an area of interest, she should mention that when she calls. Colleges do their best to accommodate.

Download this list of questions that students are often asked at a college interview

Financial Aid

For many families the greatest problem involved in post-secondary education is not which school to attend or how to get in, but rather how to pay for this education.

In searching for a college, students should not limit their choices because of the apparent high price of a particular institution. All colleges that the student feels would offer her the best academic program and a correspondingly comfortable environment should be considered regardless of price.

All colleges, through use of their own funds, try to make it possible for any student to attend, regardless of financial circumstances. In addition, the federal government and many states provide grants, low-interest loans, and work-study opportunities. Local groups, companies, and unions will also offer aid, in the form of either grants or loans, to students from a specific community.

Students and parents should closely investigate the colleges to which they apply and their financial aid and scholarship programs. Students who anticipate requiring financial aid should ask admissions officers if that college practices need-blind admissions. Many colleges will not indicate this in their literature, so the question should be asked directly.

Once a student is accepted to a college and she has applied for financial aid, the college will then award a financial package. A financial aid package is the combination of funds needed to make up the difference between a higher-priced college and a lower-priced college, enabling students to choose the best college for them regardless of price.

Keep in mind that families with low incomes are not the only ones eligible for financial aid. The needs of middle and upper income families are also taken into account by most colleges. Factors such as family size, children in college, assets, etc. are all considered.

Qualifying For Aid

In order to qualify for federal student aid a student must be a:
U.S. citizen;
U.S. national;
U.S. permanent resident who has an I-151, I-551, or I-551C (Alien Registration Receipt Card).


Colleges and universities have generally agreed on how to determine what each family can contribute to college education. General guidelines are as follows (some students will need to complete two forms).


Students must complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to apply for federal Title IV student aid programs (Pell Grants, Stafford Loans, College Work-Study, etc.). It is available on October 1 each year.

CSS Profile

Many U.S. colleges employ the CSS Profile form to gain additional information to determine applicants' eligibility for non-Title IV funds. Students may begin completing the CSS Profile during the fall of their Senior year. RESOURCES The Net Price Calculator provides a clear picture of individual net cost and how a combination of resources can make college affordable. The U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid website ASA College Planning Center at the Boston Public Library Students are encouraged to check the Scholarships tab in Naviance

College Applications Checklist

Girls may download this checklist to help keep track of the application process.

Next Steps


When Will the College Let the Student Know if She Has Been Admitted?
After the student has filed her application and has arranged to have her latest SAT or ACT scores sent to the college, there is little to do but wait until the college admissions office makes its final decision. Parental contact with the college or university is discouraged because it is not in the student's best interest.

When and how quickly the student hears from the admissions office depends on the school. The majority of institutions use one or more of the following: candidates reply date agreement, deferred admission, early action, early decision, rolling admission, deferral and wait lists.

Early Action*
Students who apply with this non-binding early plan usually receive an admissions decision in December. If admitted, she will not have to notify the college of her intention to attend until May 1.

Early Decision*
If a student applies Early Decision, she is obligated to attend that college if accepted. Notifications are typically in December. If accepted, she must withdraw her applications from all other colleges.

Rolling Admission
Some colleges follow the procedure of considering each student's application as soon as the application is complete. They will notify the applicant of their decision without delay. Colleges that follow this practice may make and announce their admissions decisions continuously over several months, in contrast to the practice of other colleges which accumulate applications until the deadline and announce all their decisions at the same time. With Rolling Admission, it is best to apply as early as possible.

Candidates Reply Date Agreement
A college subscribing to this agreement will not require any applicant offered admission as a freshman to notify it of her decision to attend before May 1. The purpose of the agreement is to give applicants time to hear from all the colleges they have applied to before they have to make a commitment to any one of them.

Wait List
When a candidate has applied to a school in the Regular Decision pool, the candidate may be notified that she has been placed on the wait list. If fewer students than the college expects choose to matriculate, the school may offer admission to students on the wait list.

Deferred Admission
This refers to the practice of most colleges whereby a school will permit students to postpone enrollment for one year after acceptance.

*These are generally accepted definitions for Early Action and Early Decision. Students should read each college's definition for its individual policies.