How do I apply to colleges?
For Cal States, you will log on to www.csumentor,edu and create an account (write down your username and password! Don’t assume you’ll remember it). From there, you can fill out one application and submit it to multiple campuses. For the UCs, it’s very much the same: you fill out one application, and then you can submit it to multiple campuses. For privates, many (but not all!) schools use the Common Application. Log on to www.commonapp.org, create an account, fill out the application, and then submit to the schools of your choice. However, don’t think you’re done there! Most of the schools require you to fill out “supplemental information,” such as writing an additional paragraph or answering a specific question. Each school requires different info, so be sure you double check what they need from you.
When are college applications due?
The filing application period for Cal States is October 1st to November 30th. For the UC system, it’s November 1st to the 30th. For the private colleges, it varies. Some schools are as early as December 1st and others are as late as March 15th. If you’re planning on applying to private schools, their websites should tell you when the deadlines are.
How do I pay for the applications?
This depends. If you qualify for the Free Lunch Program, you can typically receive a fee waiver to apply to up to four Cal States and four UCs for free. If you apply to more than four Cal States and more than four UCs, you will need to pay for each additional school. Just to give you an idea, it cost $55 to apply to a Cal State last year. For private schools, you can also receive up to four fee waivers (if you qualify for the Free Lunch Program). To receive these waivers, ask your counselor.
What is the difference between Early Decision, Early Action, and Regular Decision?
Early Decision means that you apply earlier than other students, but you also find out earlier. However, if you do get in, the school expects you to commit to their college, pay a deposit, and withdraw all of your other applications. This is a good option if, let’s say, Harvard is your dream school, and you’re 100% positive that you want to go there. Like Early Decision, Early Action also means that you apply early, and that you find out early. However, if you get in, the school doesn’t require you to commit to it and you don’t have to withdraw your other applications. This is an excellent choice option because you’ll typically find out your status in January or February, and some of the pressure and anticipation will be eased. Regular Decision means that you apply when everybody else does, and that you find out when everybody else does. Of these three, I think Early Action is the best option. You have the advantage of knowing what schools you got into early in the year, you don’t have to commit to one school. In other words, you can relax in April when everybody else is freaking out.
What schools require personal statements?
Cal States do not require a personal statement (yay!). UCs require not one, but two personal statements (boo!). Most private colleges also require one (sometimes two).
When do I start writing my personal statement?
Now! You want to start and finish your personal statements during the summer between your Junior and Senior years. This allows you to make multiple revisions (trust me, you will need to make revisions. If Shakespeare were to write a personal statement, he would have to make revisions). Also, while all your fellow students are juggling filling out their applications, studying for the SATs, doing their homework, AND writing their statements, you’re already ahead of the game. (By the way, talk to Sean, Danny, or Chandra when you’re ready to start writing it. They have Master degrees in English for a reason!)