Working hard on university applicationsCredit: Photostock

Are you a high school student that is getting ready to apply to college? This may appear to be a daunting task. The decision of which schools to apply to, what your major will be, and how you will pay for your classes can be stressful. You will get advice from a variety of sources. School counselors, parents, and friends all have stories and tips to share. Even with these you may be asking yourself, “Where do I begin?” Here are 10 tips to help you get through the process.

10 Tips for Applying to University

These tips serve as a guide, starting with things to do before, during, and after you send in the applications.


1. Consider high school courses- Many universities are looking for students that have honors, Advanced Placement (AP), or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses. You need a mix of classes to showcase your academic abilities.

2. Spread your extracurricular activities – Institutions are looking for students that are well-rounded. Quality activities are more important than quantity. Becoming involved in activities that vary from sports, to academic, to community service showcase you as a diverse person.

3. Determine possible majors – Before you begin considering which universities you may apply too, you need to have an idea of your major. Universities have colleges within them, such as the college of education, or college of engineering. While you may not have an exact answer to your major, you need to have a rough idea before you begin your search. Make a list of your interest and talents. Next, talk to others in the professions you are considering. Finally, narrow your search to just a few majors.

4. Research school options – There are many different universities to consider. Will you stay in-state or out-of-state? Is an online university an option? Do some research on possible institutions considering which where you would like to be. Universities have excellent websites that will give you information on everything from location and major areas of study to cost per year.

5. Take necessary tests- The two most common entrance exams for higher education institutions are the ACT and SAT. Once you have determined your list of schools, find out which test is needed. You may need to take both if you are applying to a variety of schools.


6. Applications – Ensure that you thoroughly fill out each application. Applications that are missing data are frequently tossed. Reviewing each application before you begin and gathering all the necessary materials will make this process easier. The same is true for scholarships. You must fill out each section and be sure to meet all deadlines.

7. Recommendation letters –  Give some thought to who you will ask to write your letters of recommendation. These letters need to showcase you in a positive light and highlight your accomplishments. These letters can come from a variety of sources including, teachers, administration, coaches, club leaders, community service directors, and employers.  Once you have chosen, ask nicely and allow time for your letters to be written. Supplying the recommendation authors with the school application deadline and a post-paid envelope is also helpful.

8. Craft your personal essay carefully – This may be the most important component of your applications. You want to make sure it is honest and accurately portrays who you are as a person, including your goals. Have an adult who is an excellent writer revise and edit your essay.


9. Be available – Once you have submitted all your applications, the process is not completed. Be available via mail, phone, and email incase the school is missing a document or has additional questions. For some institutions you may have to do an in-person or phone interview before you will be accepted.

10. Just breathe – At this point you should pat yourself on the back for completing the application process and focus on enjoying the rest of high school. You have done everything you can to ensure your acceptance into a school of your choice.

Here is some additional advice from current college students concerning things they wish they had done before, during, or after applying to universities.



What I Wish I'd Considered When Applying to College