Applying to College

Seniors should be beginning to apply to the schools they have visited and investigated. You can apply online or via paper application, but colleges prefer (and some demand) the online application. Many schools require the counselor at school to fill out a form with the GPA, class rank and other information. Often, I am asked to rank or check academic and character strengths and weaknesses. With or without this counselor form, the senior must fill out the pink Request for Transcript form in the bin outside my office door. I do not need the card or form from the college. I will send to the college the official transcript. This transcript has the senior's complete academic record, including class rank, GPA (grade point average), both weighted and unweighted, and the sticker with each ACT's set of scores. In short, we have everything on one page.

     The student is also responsible for acquiring letters of recommendation. If the college asks for one, send one - from the person who best knows you. This could be anyone - a teacher, an employer or supervisor, priest, youth group leader, etc. If the school does not require a letter of recommendation, do not send one unless you are borderline getting in. In this case, consult me first. The yellow Request for Letter of Recommendation form is also in the bin outside my office. It is common courtesy to include a stamped, addressed envelope with the Request. If asking a teacher or coach give them at least two weeks! To summarize, the student sends the application, asks for recommendation letters and a transcript. Mr. Zielonko will happily proof any essays, if needed, and will send the transcript. Get this all in the mail ASAP and sit back and wait. It normally takes from one to three weeks. Obviously, bigger schools like Mizzou may take longer, especially if you wait until November to apply. I cannot stress enough watching for application and scholarship deadlines, and to come full circle, this is why I have asked seniors to hit the ground running this year and be ready to apply in early fall.


To Do List

  1. Know which tests each college requires, register for them on time, and request that the testing agency send your official scores to each college to which you are applying. Some colleges require subject tests. Most students should take the standardized test with writing.

  2. Apply online using the Common Application whenever possible.

  3. Electronically request transcripts to be sent from your Naviance account by October 1 for in-state universities and any Early Decision/Early Action schools, and by November 1 for all Regular Decision private colleges and public universities.

  4. Allow yourself sufficient time to do carefully written and thoughtful applications. Check your spelling and grammar. Answer every question. Have your counselor review it before you submit it.

  5. Keep in mind the importance of the essay. You are presenting yourself. At a time when so many of the competitive colleges have the largest applicant pools in history, writing a strong essay becomes even more important as a means of differentiating yourself from other applicants. This is your opportunity to present ideas and convey a sense of yourself through your "voice" to the admissions committee. Ask your college counselor or English teacher to read your essay and make suggestions.

  6. Request recommendation forms from one or two of your teachers, as indicated by the colleges. Ask teachers who know you well and have taught you in an academic class your junior or senior years. After you have asked the teacher in person, and they have agreed to write for you, you must make the request electronically through your Naviance account. Tell the teacher why you are applying to specific colleges, indicate your educational goals, and answer any questions they may have. Fillout the top portion of the recommendation form before handing it or sending it electronically to the teacher, and include the deadline date in writing. Do not request recommendations from teachers just before the winter holidays! Remember that the same teacher can write for all of your colleges.

  7. Keep a file that contains copies of all applications, essays and financial aid forms, even those submitted electronically. Materials can occasionally be lost in the mail or online, or get misfiled by a college admissions office.

  8. Keep the College Counseling Office up-to-date on your applications and any action that has been taken. Ask questions about anything you do not understand!