Amelia Academy

Academics » Guidance

College Admissions Process

Choosing a college to attend is one of the most important decisions a student has to make. Many things should be considered when making this decision:

  • What are the requirements for admissions?
  • Will I be able to succeed at this college or university?
  • Do I want to live on campus or commute from home?
  • Do I want to stay in-state or go out-of-state?
  • Do I want to go to a small college or university or a large one?
  • What do I want to major in and does this college offer that major?
  • What kind of reputation does this college have?
  • What is the percentage of job placement upon graduating?
  • What do students do at this college on the weekends? Do they go home or stay on campus?

Juniors and seniors are allowed three days each year to visit colleges or universities, and they are not considered absent on these days. College visits should be scheduled through the guidance office in advance. Information also is available online about most colleges and universities. You should always visit a school (preferably with a parent) before deciding to apply.

You then need to begin applying either online or with paper applications. Different colleges have different deadlines. Most large colleges and universities require all applications to be submitted by January 1. Notification of acceptance occurs in April. Early Decision deadlines are usually November 1. Early Decision notifications usually are received by December 1.

Keep in mind that applying for Early Decision obligates you to attend that college or university. An undecided student should not apply for Early Decision. Applications rejected for Early Decision are usually rolled over into the regular decision process. Some schools have rolling admissions, which means students are notified of acceptance as applications are received so apply early. Regular-decision students usually have to commit to a school by May 1.

Most college applications require some type of essay. The essay gives the admissions personnel more information about the student. Write a rough draft of the essay before filling out the application, even when applying online. Make the essay different or unique if possible so the application will stand out from other essays. Be sure to have someone proofread your final draft.

Some colleges and universities require recommendations. Be sure to choose people who know you well. The counselor and/or teachers would be good choices for letters of recommendation. Letters from friends, ministers, and bosses also are helpful. Be sure to ask for letters of recommendation well in advance of deadlines. If the college does not provide a self-addressed, postage-paid envelope, you should provide this.

Most college applications require a list of activities, both in and out of school, as well as a list of all honors received. The guidance office has a list of each student’s activities since ninth grade. This list is available upon request. If sending a paper application, make a neat copy (typed) to be sent with each application.

Some applications recommend rather than require certain information (essays, recommendations, etc.) All recommended information should be included in the application.

Applications sometimes have a question asking if a student plans to apply for financial aid. If a student plans to ask for financial aid, the response should be yes, and the financial aid office from that school will send information directly to the student.

A number of SAT preparation courses are available. These courses are usually fairly expensive and their success rate is questionable. The College Board Web site ( has helpful information, including a “SAT Question of the Day” as well as official practice tests offered free of charge. The highest scores on SAT tests are earned by the well-rounded student who reads a lot and has worked to prepare himself or herself throughout school. Cramming at the last minute has not proven to be very successful.

Questions to Ask on a Campus Visit

  • What activities and services are available for students?
  • How big are the classes?
  • What kind of relationship does the faculty have with the students?
  • Is tutoring available if needed?
  • How do students go about registering for the classes they want and need?
  • What is the total cost of attending?
  • What type of financial aid is offered, and how does one apply?
  • Are all freshmen assigned an academic advisor?
  • Where do most freshmen live?
  • How successful are the graduates in finding a job?
  • What services are available locally (food, shopping, travel)?
  • What is there to do on weekends?
  • Do most students stay or leave on the weekends?