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Guide to the Application Process

This document is distributed to students and parents at the family meeting with the college advisor in the spring of junior year or fall of senior year. Please be sure to view our position paper on ethics in the college application process; this document is also contained in the Guide.


College applications are an important part of the admissions process because they reflect you as a person and as a student. Indeed, unlike other information colleges receive about you, the application comes directly from you. Standardized test scores, grades, and recommendations represent your performance and other people’s comments about you; the application can allow others to see you as you want to present yourself. The organization and timeliness of your application contribute to the evaluation process, which centers, of course, on content. It is therefore very important that you do a first-rate job and take the utmost care in completing each application. Do not wait until the last minute to complete your applications.

While the application process need not be difficult, it can be confusing at times, and it certainly can be time-consuming. What follows is designed to help ease your way through some of the more technical aspects of filling out an application.

Even if you are not going to fill out applications immediately, we strongly urge you to read through this material now. There are numerous things you need to do, deadlines to plan for, and people you might need to speak to long before you ever actually sit down to fill out an application.

Helpful Hints Before You Get Started

  1. Read and follow instructions!
    Carefully consult the website of every college to which you intend to apply. These websites contain instructions about general application requirements, required standardized tests, requirements for special programs and/or merit scholarships, supplemental essays, portfolio submission, auditions, financial aid deadlines and procedures, deferring for a year, etc. Any of these details is subject to change each year..
  2. Many colleges allow you to use the Common Application or the Coalition Application, and they don't give a preference to either. These applications are similar, but they have notable differences. If you have a choice, use the application with which you feel more comfortable.
  3. You should register on the Common Application and the Coalition Application, if necessary, over the summer.
  4. A complete college application consists of a variety of documents, sent from different sources. Please see this table for a brief description of the documents and who is responsible for submitting them to the offices of admission.
  5. Most colleges will consider documents submitted by their application deadlines. However, some colleges, such as the University of Michigan, Yeshiva University, and Macaulay Honors College of CUNY require that credentials be received in their offices by their deadlines. Standardized test scores may take three weeks to arrive at a college - request them well in advance!
  6. The College Office uses Scoir, an online system that allows us to send documents electronically and is, therefore, much more efficient and much quicker than post.
  7. After you apply, many colleges will give you access to a portal to track your application status. In some cases, admission decisions are announced in these portals. You should keep your login information and check your account regularly.
  8. If the program permits, print and save copies of everything you send to a college, and save any digital receipts/confirmations you receive.

EBook: Application Guide