College Application 101

Here’s the inside scoop from GHS senior Jesse Alexander



College application season can be the most stressful aspect of senior year, but it shouldn’t be. Applying to college could actually be one of the best moments of high school, as long as it is planned correctly. Here are some tips and tricks for getting through the process with your nerves intact.


First, know your deadlines. Early action is the deadline for the person who wants to get all of their applications in early, and find out as soon as possible whether they got in or not.

Early decision, is for the person who knows exactly where they want to go to school, and is in most cases, legally binding, if accepted.  Early action and early decision, deadlines generally fall in early November. Regular decision deadline generally isn’t until January.


How does one go about applying to colleges? First book an appointment with a guidance counselor who will help set up both Naviance and the Common Application websites, which are both very important tools for this process. Once those are both set up, enter personal information and where you want to apply. Be sure to link the accounts together so all information is shared between Naviance and the Common Application.

Recommendation letters

Most colleges ask for 1-3 letters, at least one from a teacher, and then possibly a coach, or club advisor. Choose teachers and people you connect with. Do not ask parents to write these letters!  Submit teacher requests easily through Naviance.

Personal Essay

Next, it is time to start thinking about the personal essay. This is one of the most important parts of the application, because it is where the colleges can see who you really are. In the essay, be as personal as possible, and make sure to include the most important aspects of your life. The essay must be between 200- 650 words. Before submitting, make sure this essay has been thoroughly looked over by a teacher or parent. The essay prompts can be found on the Common Application website.

Transcript forms

Transcript forms can be found in the Guidance office, and one is needed for each college that you are applying. Submit completed forms to your guidance counselor at least 2 weeks before each deadline.

Financial Aid

The FAFSA, on online application for federal student financial aid. Some of this needs to be completed by a parent or legal guardian. This can take a lot of time, so plan at least a few hours for this task.

Test Scores

Sending standardized testing scores is easy. Visit the website, and follow the instructions. Unless you have a fee waiver, each SAT you want to send to each college is $12.

College Application season is all about planning. Stay organized and work with your guidance counselor to make it through stress free!