Applying to Colleges and Universities

The process of applying to colleges and universities seems bewildering, but it becomes clearer and easier as you do it. While there are certain things you can learn to enhance the quality of your applications, the basic procedure is fairly straightforward.

Accessing the Application and Filling It Out

1. The vast majority of applications are filled out on-line. You can find a university’s on-line application by accessing the admissions section of their website.

2. In order to do the on-line application, you will have to set up an account with a user name and password for each university or college.  These accounts are free, and they provide you with an electronic “drop box” in which to save your application while you are working on it. In any particular session, you can spend as much or as little time working on your application as you want.  No one will look at or examine your application until you electronically submit it.

3. Most on-line applications provide a mechanism for submitting your essay. There will generally be a textbox in which you can type the essay, or you will be provided with a means of attaching it to your application, similar to the way you attach a file to an email. You can edit your essay over time, saving it at the end of each work session.

The college essay may prove to be the single biggest thing that causes you to procrastinate over your applications. Often, you simply don’t know where to start or what to write about. You may worry that your writing is not good enough and will keep you from being accepted. Your guidance counselor or English teacher can be a tremendous help in getting over these obstacles. Don’t hesitate to ask.

With a little tweaking, a particular essay often can be used for more than one college application. If the topics overlap, there is no ethical or practical issue with using the same essay for multiple colleges. See your counselor if you doubt whether an essay is suitable for multiple schools to which you are applying.

4. You will inevitably have questions about portions of the application. This is another area where your guidance counselor can help you. Don’t hesitate to seek her/him out when you don’t know what to answer or write. Sometimes you can get an answer to a question more quickly and easily by emailing your counselor rather than waiting for an appointment.

5. Each application will become easier after the first one. That’s because most college applications ask similar questions. The first one usually takes the longest, because the application will require some information that you don’t have right at hand. Once you’ve gathered that information, it’s easier to supply it on ensuing applications.

The Common Application

If the colleges you’re applying to accept it, the Common Application can be a huge time saver. In theory, the “Common App” is a single application that is accepted by a large number of schools. Check your colleges’ admissions sites to see if they accept the Common App. If several of them do, there’s a huge advantage to using it.
Detracting slightly from this time advantage is the fact that member colleges “tweak” the process by requiring supplemental information not asked for on the Common App itself.  If a college requires a supplement and you neglect to fill it out, then you haven’t completed the application process. Make sure to check each college for a required supplement and to fill it out if there is one.  The supplements for each member college are available on the Common App website.
You can find the Common Application at

Our School Code

Most college applications will ask for your high school’s code. The code for Catholic High is 210065.