When should I apply?

Deadlines vary by school so it is very important to read all instructions on the applications carefully. Some schools will list a postmark deadline (it must be in the mail on this date) or electronic filing deadline (it must be received in their system on this date). Schools with rolling admissions may fill quickly and often list a priority deadline, which you should follow. In either case, give yourself plenty of time and make sure you meet the deadline.

How many schools should I apply at?

The answer is that there is no magic number. Most of the information available suggests a range of five to eight colleges but each individual needs to plan for her specific needs. Meet with your guidance counselor early in the year and work together throughout the year to narrow down a long list or broaden a short list. Think about it carefully and apply only at those institutions you are really interested in attending.  

What is a “safe” school? 

Every applicant’s list should contain at least one “safe school.” This is a school that you have the academic requirements to be admitted at, the financial resources available to pay for and the belief that it is a good choice for you. 

What is a “reach” school? 

Reach schools are those at which admission is competitive and there are more applicants than slots available. These schools generally have higher requirements (above average test scores and grade point averages). Because of the low acceptance rates, students are advised to apply at multiple colleges in case they don’t get in to their first choice.

How do I know if early decision is right for me?    

Consider this: an early decision application is binding. You can only apply to one school under early decision so you must be absolutely sure of your level of commitment to that school and you must be very confident in your ability to get in. If you have any doubts, stick with regular applications.

How do I apply for scholarships and financial aid? 

The vast majority of scholarships and financial aid comes directly from colleges and universities so you need to check with each individual school to determine their system, requirements and deadlines.  Almost all schools require students seeking financial aid to submit the FAFSA by February 15th, which is available here in early January. 

Should I apply with a paper application or electronically?

It’s your choice but online applications are the trend of the future. Many colleges waive the application fee for electronic filing and there is no wait time involved: once you’ve sent it, the application is filed. The beauty of on-line applications is that you can make changes invisibly and print them out for review before submitting. And if you have a lot of supporting materials you can include them in the same envelope with your application.