If you’re gearing up to start applying for college, you are not alone. Millions of high school students apply for college each year. What’s more, college applicant volumes are on the rise, increasing 21.3% from the previous year in 2022.
With rising application volumes, getting into college is more competitive than ever. You must start preparing for the application process early. That way, you will optimize your chances of getting into the school of your dreams.
But where do you even start? In this guide, we want to give you tips for navigating the college application process in 2023. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about the process at the end, so stick around.
The Top Factors to Consider When Applying for College
Applying for college should be personal. Your journey may not look like that of your peers, and that’s a good thing. Your application process should revolve around your unique long-term goals.
Here are the top five factors to consider if you are searching for the best college for you.
Not all schools offer the same degree programs. So the first step to choosing the best schools for your long-term goals is to come up with a list of majors. Consider majors that interest you but also support your goals.
At the same time, don’t get too hung up on choosing the perfect major. It is incredibly common for people to choose a major in college that they don’t end up using in their career path.
College is expensive. Most students only have two options when it comes to funding their studies. The first is to pay for college out-of-pocket, and the second is to apply for fully funded scholarships.
Make sure the schools you are interested in are suitable for your budget. If you plan to pay for school with scholarships, ensure your chosen college accepts the types of funding you intend to apply for.
School size matters for a few reasons. First of all, school size determines class size. If you prefer smaller classes and closer relationships with your professors, choose a college with lower enrollment numbers.
The second reason for considering school size is the social scene. A smaller school will offer closer-knit ties between you and your peers. Meanwhile, larger schools provide more opportunities to meet new people.
Do you have important interests outside of school? If so, pay attention to a school’s extracurricular offerings. Browse the university’s website for the types of activities you may want to participate in.
If you don’t have any hobbies, you should consider extracurriculars anyway. College is the best time in your life to try new things. You may wind up finding a new interest that changes your whole life.
Many students have preferences when it comes to student living options. You may prefer to live on or off-campus or with or without roommates. Consider factors like your budget, personality style, and transportation needs.
For example, say you are on a tight budget. In that case, choosing a college that is close to home may be your best option. Living at home while working toward your degree can save you thousands of dollars per year.
Before you go, check out this list of frequently asked questions. We answer some of the web’s most-asked questions below.
When Should You Start Applying for College?
You should start applying for college during your junior or senior year, depending on your short-term goals.
Apply for college during your junior year if you want to go early decision. If you aren’t applying early decision, start preparing the summer before your senior year.
What Grades Do Colleges Look At?
Colleges look at grades through the end of your junior year. Some colleges may only accept applications during the second semester of your senior year because they want to see your fall senior year grades.
To find out which grades you should submit, check the website of the universities you wish to apply for.
What Documents Do You Need to Apply for College?
You need your high school transcripts, test score records, and letters of recommendation to apply for college. You also need the following documents to apply to most US colleges and universities:
- Your driver’s license
- Your social security number
- Your extracurricular information
- Your awards and achievements
The colleges you are applying to will provide a list of required documents. If you apply online, there will also be a place to upload each document during the application process.
How Do Colleges Decide Who to Accept?
Colleges decide who to accept based on the high school courses you take, your grades, your class rank, test scores, teacher recommendations, extracurricular activities, and personal essay responses.
Of these, courses and grades, personal essays, and extracurricular activities are the most important factors.
How Long Does It Take for a College to Accept or Reject You?
It takes a college four to six weeks for a college to accept or reject you if it provides rolling admissions. Colleges with traditional, regular decision admissions may take longer to make a decision or up to 12 weeks.
Want More Advice on How to Apply for College?
Applying for college is more competitive than ever. That’s why you need to be prepared when going through the application process. Increase your chances of getting into the school of your dreams with these tips.
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