What is the College Admissions Process?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2019
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The college admissions process is the process through which a student applies to a college and receives a judgment regarding admission based on that application. Typically, this process begins with the student looking into different colleges to establish where he or she would like to apply. The student may then acquire all required information and test scores, which can be time consuming. Once all the materials and information are in hand, the student usually fills out an application and submits all relevant materials, usually along with an application fee. Finally, the college evaluates the application and renders a decision based on that application about whether or not to admit the student.

While the college admissions process can seem complicated to a person who has not completed an application before, it is actually a simple matter of following directions and keeping track of paperwork. Making a checklist or calendar with deadlines can help make the college admissions process easier to keep track of. As different schools have different deadlines, coming up with a plan is a good idea.


Once a student has chosen the schools to which he or she will apply, the first step in the college admissions process is to make arrangements to obtain all required information and documents. Colleges frequently ask for test scores, letters of recommendation, and essays as part of the college admissions process. Obtaining these documents often requires asking teachers for letters, signing up to take different tests, and writing. This is often the most time-consuming aspect of the college admissions process.

When all information has been assembled, the actual application can be completed. Sometimes documents are sent separately from the application, and sometimes they are included. All applications are different, so it is important to follow the directions provided by the school precisely. When in doubt, reading over the directions multiple times can help reduce the chances of mistakes. Getting the application in by the required deadline and paying the application fee are also essential to succeeding in this process.

After the application has been submitted, it is up to the college to evaluate the information contained there. Different colleges use different methods for this process, but most of the time these methods are not told to applicants. Decisions are then delivered to applicants through one or another method of communication, typically by mail. Usually, negative decisions are not negotiable, although in some cases students may apply again the following year. When a school has been selected, confirmation of that acceptance is required in order to complete the college admissions process.


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Don't forget to visit the colleges you are applying to! There is a wealth of information available at a variety of sources. Remember that college is a place where you will spend at least four years of you life so finding the right fit is important! Really imagine yourself living there while you visit. A lot of campuses have a program where you can stay overnight with students and really get to experience what it's like going to school there.

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