College Application Timeline
Feeling the stress of the College Application Process? As you enter your last year of high school, you're solidifying your plans for after you graduate. If you're planning to apply to college, here are some important steps to help you get your college application process started.
Creating a Balanced College List
Your Wants & Needs
Everyone is different and your college list should meet your wants and needs. Here are some general guidelines to consider for your college list:
Before you apply to college, you need to make a list of colleges that interest you and meet your needs.
Reflect on your preferences and needs. There are over 4,000 colleges in the United States. To find colleges that might be a good fit for you, consider the general, academic, social, and financial characteristics that you want or need.
General: Type of college, location, distance from home, size, etc.
Academic: Type of degree, faculty you want to work with, majors, online v. in-person, etc.
Social: Housing options, student clubs, support services, student body, opportunities in the community etc.
Financial: Cost, availability of financial aid and part-time jobs, scholarships, etc.
Consider what your wants and needs are and what kind of school can meet those wants and needs.
Use this Choosing the Right College worksheet from ECMC: The College Place or this Making Your College List template from Oregon Goes to College to help you consider different factors and think about what kind of school would be the best fit for you:
Length of your List
Consider aiming to apply between 3 and 8 schools. Make sure your list includes Safeties, Matches, and Reach schools:
Safeties (1-2): Your GPA and SAT/ACT scores are higher than the average score range of last year’s freshman class. These are colleges that you feel you have a very good chance of getting into and that you think you can afford to attend. They should also be colleges you would be happy to attend.
Matches (2-4): Your GPA and SAT/ACT scores are solidly in the same score range as last year’s freshman class. These are colleges that you feel you have a good chance of getting into and that are good matches for you overall.
Reaches (1-2): Your GPA and SAT/ACT scores are lower than the average score range of last year’s freshman class. These are colleges that you think may be more of a challenge to get into, but you want to reach for it. Getting in is not a sure thing, but it’s realistic enough to be worth the effort of applying. Remember: colleges consider the whole package!
By having a balanced list, you’re adding colleges that you may not have considered before. Ultimately, it’s important to build a list that reflects your wants and needs and dreams, while also keeping in mind what schools can meet those needs and help you succeed. Here aresome tips for How to Finalize your Balanced College List from The College Board: Big Future.
Log into MaiaLeraning using your PPS student email and add your list of schools to your Considering List!
Understand your Deadlines
- Early Decision - Earlier application deadline (usually November) and the student is notified of the college’s decision earlier than usual (usually by the 15th of December). The student is automatically agreeing to accept the school’s offer of admission.
- Early Action - Earlier application deadline (usually November) and the student is notified of the college’s decision earlier than usual (usually by the 15th of December). The student is NOT automatically agreeing to accept the school’s offer of admission and usually has until May 1st to make their decision.
- Regular Decision - Traditional application timeline. This application deadline is usually December, January, or February and students are notified of the college’s decision in March or April.
- Rolling Admission - An admissions procedure by which the college considers your application as soon as all the required credentials, such as school record and test scores, have been received. No application deadline.
Organize your Deadlines and Application Materials
Update your MaiaLearning Applying List.
Understand the process for Requesting Transcripts and Counselor Letters of Recommendation.
Visit the website for each college on your list to know the application deadlines and understand what you will need to complete each application.
Consider using the "Colleges" and "Deadline" worksheets in this Oregon Goes to College "It's A Plan: College Workbook" to stay organized, or create your own!
Specific requirements to look up for each college you are applying to:
- Application Deadline? Are you planning to apply Early Action or Regular Decision? Make sure to keep track of your deadlines!
- Counselor Letter of Recommendation required? If so, go to the Sending Transcripts & Counselor Letters of Rec tab of the Counselor Website to get all the information you need for how to request a Letter of Rec from your counselor. You must submit necessary info and materials to your counselor at least three weeks before your college application deadline. Note: If a Counselor Letter of Rec is not required for the schools you are applying to, don't worry about this step! Either way, make sure you are communicating with your counselor!
- Other Letters of Recommendation required? Teacher, Coach, Mentor? How many letters are required, and does the college website have suggestions about what kind of letters they're looking for? Make sure to start thinking about who you would like to ask to write your letters and look at your MaiaLearning account to become familiar with how to request your letters of rec.
- SAT or ACT required? Some schools require test scores, and others don't. Make sure to check the college websites to know what the schools you're applying to require. If test scores are required, get an idea of the score range the college is looking for.
- Application Platform? Do you have to apply directly on the College Website? Does the college partner with Common App or Coalition App? Do they use other application platforms, like the UC Application?
- You will be able to find this information through the admissions page of the university websites and under the Universities tab on Maia Learning!
Start your Applications
There are a few ways to apply to a college or university. One is directly on the college's website. Here are some other options:
Common Appplication - An undergrad college admission application platform that students may use to apply to any of more than 900 member colleges and universities in the US and around the world. Fill out one application for multiple colleges at once. Not all colleges/universities use Common App, but many do.
Coalition Application - The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success is a relatively new application option for college candidates. Launched in 2016, the Coalition App is a free platform, similar to the Common App, that schools can join to offer their applications on.
Common Black College Application - Interested in Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs)? The Common Black College Application is like the Common App for HBCUs, and makes it easy and more affordable to apply. Apply to any number of 65 HBCUs for only $20 total.
UC Application - University of California system's application for undergraduate admissions and scholarships.
Want help? Come to the LHS College & Career Center, room 153!
1. Work on your college essay, supplemental essay questions, activities list, and more.
3. Make an appointment with someone in the College & Career Center (Room 153)
4. Check out the ASPIRE program and make an appointmet to see if you are a good fit
5. Keep your MaiaLearning account up to date with schools on your Applying List and your admission information
6. Make sure you are communicating with your counselor!
- Go to the Sending Transcripts & Counselor Letters of Rec tab of the Counseling Website for the process you will need to follow to request a transcript or a counselor letter of recommendation, and for other important information and guidance.
- Check out the Jumpstart Your College Process tab on the Counseling website for resources about different parts of the college process, including an introduction to the college search, Maia Learning, the college essay, gap year resoruces, the trades, paying for college, and more.