General Information to assist students as they apply to college.
For many students, applying to college is the most significant and time consuming aspect of their senior year. The information found in this section will help you in completing your college applications.
Additionally, this video highlights many of the frequently asked questions students have about applying to college.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to see your counselor for additional assistance.
1. Research colleges and create a list of all schools to which you will apply.
2. Set up a calendar with application deadlines. Pay attention to Early Decision, Early Action and Scholarship deadlines, as well.
3. Ask teacher(s) and/or your counselor for recommendations at least 30 days before deadline, if necessary
- See FAQ’s about Recommendation Letters
- For teacher recommendations:
- Complete Teacher Recommendation Form
- For counselor recommendations:
- Complete Parent Brag Sheet
- Complete Senior Recommendation Information Form
4. Request for test scores (ACT and/or SAT) to be sent directly from the testing agency to all of your intended colleges 4-6 weeks before the application deadline to ensure they receive your scores on time.
4. Apply online
- Essay questions:
- Answer them completely
- Answer even if optional
- Leave enough time to have them edited by multiple people (ie: English teacher, Ms. Elliott, parents, counselor, etc.)
5. Request your transcript from the Counseling Center
- See Mrs. McDaniel, Registrar, to complete your transcript card
- Pay $1.00 for each transcript requested unless applying through Common App or SendEDU, which are free
- Your transcript will be sent electronically whenever possible
When applying to college, there are many different terms that are used regarding the application deadlines.
Regular Decision is when colleges review most of their applications before notifying students if they are accepted or not. In this process, colleges set a deadline for completing applications and will respond with admissions decisions by a specified deadline. Students are not limited in the number of colleges they can apply to under regular decision.
Rolling Admission is a term used to describe the application process in which a college will review applications as they are received and release admissions decisions to students soon after they are made. Students can apply to other colleges and are not limited to a specific number of colleges under this plan.
Some students have a strong preference for specific colleges and may want to consider applying early. It is important to read the specific instructions from each college regarding their early application policies.
The two most common phrases related to early applications are "Early Action" and "Early Decision."
Early action means that students apply to the college on an earlier deadline and will receive a reply from the college earlier. Though you will hear early regarding your admission status, you are not committed to attend and you may still apply to other colleges and can choose to attend any college of your choice in the future.
Early decision requires a formal decision in that, at the time of application, you commit to attend the college if you are admitted. You are confirming that you will enroll and so you can apply to only one college under early decision. Once you have been accepted to a college through early decision, you must recall any other college applications that you have submitted. If you are not 100% sure that a college is right for you, then you should not apply under early decision.
If you have any questions about college application terms, please see your counselor.
It may seem scary how fast time flies and that college application deadlines are rapidly approaching. We don't want you to be haunted by your applications! Even though it may be getting dark outside, on Monday, October 15th, from 5:00 - 7:00pm, the counselors will be in the computer lab to assist you. The most important trick is to bring your information with you. Sometimes the essays may seem spooky and common app can be ghastly, but do not be afraid - the counselors are here to help! No costumes are required, but we will have some treats. You don't want to boo hoo because you miss it.
Some colleges require an interview, though many do not. If the college requires or recommends one, you may be able to schedule it during your campus visit or they may have alumni representatives complete the interviews in the central Ohio area. As with any interview, be on time. Review the information and notes you have on the college and prepare a list of questions ahead of time. Be sure to take the list with you to the interview so you are able to cover everything you wanted to find out. During your interview you will probably be asked about your background, interests, hobbies, goals, and why you’re applying to the college. It’s normal to feel a little nervous, but try to relax and remember this is a conversation about you and about the college.
Below are some general tips as well as questions that may help you prepare.
- Dress to make a good first impression
- Make eye contact (if you struggle making eye contact, one trick is to focus on the eyebrows of the person you are talking to)
- Be honest
- Listen and ask questions
Examples of questions you may expect in an admissions/ scholarship interview:
- Why do you want to go to ______?
- Tell me about yourself.
- What do you like to do in your free time?
- What books have you read recently that you have liked that weren't assigned to you?
- How would you describe your high school?
- What are you greatest strengths/weaknesses?
- What's your favorite subject/class? Least favorite? Why?
- Describe your high school course load
- What do you like to do with your friends on the weekends?
- Tell me a little about yourself
- What about yourself do you want our admissions team to remember most?
- Describe a typical day in your life.
- Who was your favorite high school teacher, and why?
- If you could change one thing about your high school to make it better, what would you change?
- What is the most recent book you have read?
- What attracts you to our institution?
- Which characteristics of a college are most important to you?
- What have you done in your school or community that you are most proud of?
- How have you been recognized for your accomplishments?
- During your free time, what are you most likely to do?
- When are you at your best? Your worst?
- If you could do high school over, what would you do differently? The same?
- How do you see yourself ten years from now?
- What ways do you have of earning money for college?
- What was your best job, vacation, or class, ever?
- Are you interested in a specific area of study and how have you developed that interest? How do you plan to develop that interest in college?
- What have you done in your life that has required a great deal of patience and persistence and how did you handle that situation?
- Do you have any definite plans/goals for your future and how do we fit in those plans?
- What aspect of college life do you think will have the most influence on a student?
- Whom do you respect in your community and why?
- How would your best friend describe you?
- What areas do you see as your weaknesses and how have you tried to overcome them?
- Describe a situation in which you demonstrated your leadership abilities.
- Tell us about something that you have tried that wasn’t successful and looking back, what would you have done differently?
- How did you become interested in your major? What influenced your choice of this major?
- What are your educational/ academic goals? What are your future career plans? How do you plan to use your studies to achieve your future career plans?
- How will this scholarship help you to achieve your academic goals?
- They may ask questions based upon your application essays so review those prior to interview
- They may ask opinion regarding current events/ politics.
- You’ve already accomplished impressive things in life in what areas do you think you can improve?
- Why should you be one of the people to receive this scholarship?
- They'll ask you if you have any questions for them.
There will be time during your interview, usually at the end, to ask any questions you may have. This gives you, the prospective student, an opportunity to gather information about the college that may not have already been covered during your research or during the campus tour.
Questions YOU may want to ask during college admissions interview:
- What is the average size for classes in the freshman year?
- What is distinctive about this college?
- What percentage of freshman return for their sophomore year?
- Does the college have a strong and active alumni association?
- How accessible is the faculty for individual help?
- Do graduate assistants teach any of the freshman and/or introductory courses?
- What types of study abroad programs does the college offer?
- What courses do typical freshmen take? Are there any courses which all freshman are obligated to take?
- What opportunities are there for freshmen students to participate in research?
- Is it difficult to change major or areas of study after the freshman year?
- What factors do you consider in the admissions process and, of those, which do you consider most strongly?
- How important are SAT/ACT scores in the admissions process?
- What are my chances for admission?
- What internship opportunities are available for students?
- Does the college offer a career planning and placement program and, if so how does the program work?
- Which percentage of your students has been placed in a full-time job or graduate school within six weeks of graduation?
- What percentage of students in the major in which I am interested are placed in a full-time position upon graduation?
- Which graduate schools have your students attended?
- How safe is the campus?
- Are counseling services available on campus?
- What are the most active clubs or student organizations on campus?
- How active is the student government association?
- What student publications are available on campus?
- What religious services are available on campus and in the community?
- Is there a Greek system (fraternities and sororities) on campus and how active is it?
- What percentage of the student population resides on campus and about how many students is that?
- If students choose to live off campus, what are their living options?
- Approximately how many students go home on the weekends?
- Does the college offer scholarships and if so, are they need-based, merit-based, or both?
- What financial aid forms are required?
The Common Application is a centralized application that students can complete for over 700 different colleges. The colleges that participate in this application method commit to treating applications received through the Common App with the same consideration as if students had applied through the institution’s individual application. This will generally mean that you have to spend less time filling out all of the basic information about yourself and can mean that you have fewer essays to write (but maybe not).
On the common app students will be asked to select and answer in 250 – 650 words one of the following prompts:
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
- Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
- Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
Then, the "tricky" part of it all is that many of the schools will also have supplements required, which are other questions of their own that they want students to complete. Sometimes it is just simple questions that weren't covered on the Common App, but would have been if you had applied through their individual application, but often times it includes additional short or long answer essays. Be aware and be prepared for that when completing your application. You may want to make sure that the supplements are for the current year, as sometimes there is a bit of a lag in the current year's supplement essay questions being posted.
Not all schools use the Common App - there are 37 Ohio schools which will utilize the common application this year, but as you are getting ready to start applications for the schools you are considering it is worth your time to look and see if more than one school from your list uses the Common App.
Common App’s website is www.commonapp.org.
The following is a list of common terms you may see in the response letters received from colleges:
- Accepted: Congratulations - they are inviting you to join and be a part of their college/ university
- Declined/ Rejected/ Not Accepted: For whatever reason the college did not feel that you would be a good fit. While it is understandably disappointing, please remember that there are lots of colleges and universities out there so don’t give up on finding a good match.
- Decision Deferred: The college is not sure yet… usually they will tell you what additional data/ information they are interested in receiving to help them make their decision. The most common piece of data they will look for are senior year grades at the semester time.
- Wait List: The wait list is not a denial, but it is not an acceptance either. Colleges use wait lists as insurance to make sure that their freshman class will be the appropriate size. If enough students decide to attend, the college will not accept anyone off of their wait-list.
Colleges are going to be looking at you as a whole and will take several factors into consideration when evaluating your application and determining your acceptance into their institution.
High School Performance
- Are you participating in a four year college prep curriculum?
- How are you performing in your courses? ( GPA/class rank)
- What trend can they see in your grades? (For example, Strength in a single content or can they see an improvement from freshman to senior year)
- What is the rigor of your curriculum?
- Competitiveness of high school
College Entrance Exams (ACT and SAT)
- Help to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses
- May be used for placement
- May be used for scholarship amounts awarded
- May not be weighed as heavily if high school record is strong
- Demonstrates commitment to school and contribution to school community
- Never replaces academic preparation and performance
- Consistent involvement and leadership important
- Consistent involvement
- Demonstrates contribution to community
- Impact on student and/or community
- May lead to special scholarships
- Legacy—Did you have family attend institution
- Religious affiliation
- Special talents
- Institution will be asking how you fit their program? Their community?
- Will be asking how can this student contribute to our college/university?
The National Association of College Admissions Counselors completed an Admissions Trends Survey in 2011. Attached is a chart of their findings on the level of importance colleges rated each factor in their admissions decisions.
Attention seniors with a January 1st college deadline: Remember the last day before break is December 15th. You need to request your transcipts by FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8th to have them submitted before the deadline! You must also enter your request for your counselor through Common App by this date so that we have time to upload your information before we leave for break, as well.
The counselors are working to compile accurate data regarding the plans for students in your graduating class. This is a mandatory form for all seniors to complete. Please carefully complete this information form and return it to the Counseling Center on or before May 2nd.
If this form is not returned by May 2nd, we may not be able to include your information in the Senior Recognition Night and Commencement Programs.
The form was mailed home to all senior students in March, but additional copies are available in the Counseling Center or can be downloaded here.
Many students have questions about what the Ohio Public colleges are looking for in applicants. The attached chart is intended to help give you a frame of reference for comparison purposes. Please check with all specific colleges where you are looking for additional details about their application requirements and any changes which may have been made since these charts were created.
Ohio Public College Comparison
Ohio Public College Admission Requirement Frequently Asked Questions
Staying organized throughout the college application process is essential. This college organization chart can be used to monitor requirements for each college and this organization chart can be used by students to help keep track of requirements, dates, deadlines, and other aspects of the application. This college application tracker can help you keep track of what you have done and what you still need to do.
Transcripts must be requested, in writing, on a transcript release form card. These release form cards are located in Mrs. McDaniel's office of the WKHS Counseling and Career Center. Students must indicate each college/ scholarship for which they are granting permission to release their transcript to on these cards. Please complete the Transcript Request Card at least 10 school days before your deadline.
When you are ready to request a transcript, visit the Counseling Center. Mrs. McDaniel will have you sign the release form card and she will collect the $1.00 fee for each transcript not through Common App or SendEdu. Your transcript will then be sent electronically to your selected college. If you need an official transcript for someone other than a college, it may or may not be able to be sent electronically. In those instances, an e-mail to the contact or a hard copy of your transcript can be provided. All hard copies will be in a sealed, stamped envelope. Please do not open the envelope or the transcript is no longer considered official.
Some schools utilize the Common Application, in these cases, you will request your transcript in the same manner, but you will also need to submit the electronic invitation through Common App to your counselor. The transcript will be uploaded to the common app website for submission after you have completed these steps. There is no charge for transcripts submitted through Common App.
Please allow for at least 10 school days for transcript processing.
WKHS alumni must utilize the online transcript request system. The base processing cost per transcript is $3.00 if sent electronically. The cost is $4.00 if you need a hard copy of your transcript. Normal processing time for your transcript order is 3-5 business days.
Alumni only, please visit Transcripts Plus to complete your request.
Writing a college essay can be a frustrating, challenging process, but this is your opportunity to put your best foot forward and show the colleges what makes you special. Ideally the college admissions and scholarship officers will learn something about you and see how well you write.
When colleges review your application they can read things like your grade point average and test scores, but they still want to know more about YOU – the person behind those grades, scores, and activities. This is your chance to communicate to the colleges who you are and how your mind works. It is important to remember that your essay will be one of hundreds, or more-likely thousands, that the admissions committee members will read. Try to interest them in what you have to say and be sure that it is written well so that it will stand out. Think of this as your opportunity to personally introduce yourself to the admissions and scholarship officers reading your application. Be open, honest and real.
One strategy is to think of your essay as a blind date. You are trying to make a positive impression on someone you don’t really know by showcasing who you are and all of the great things about you. You want them to walk away knowing that you are special. The best news of all though is that you don’t have to suffer from the nerves of making a silly mistake on this “blind date” – you can perfect your essay so that you can make sure you are putting forth a positive message with a good tone that also shows your ability to think and write clearly and logically.
When you have to write an essay you need to keep a few important points in mind:
Answer the question!
When they give you a prompt or question – be sure that your essay is answering what they are asking! These are smart people – they know when you are just taking a different essay and trying to make it fit for their question. Put in the time to write an essay that answers the question they are asking. Also, be sure that you respond to all parts of the prompt.
Show me – Don’t tell me.
Great, so you told me that you are organized and honest… good qualities for their future college students, but are you demonstrating that to them with your essay? Show them what you mean with vivid examples – that will usually be specific, concrete stories to illustrate your point.
Did I learn something about you?
The whole point of these essays is so that the college admissions officers will learn something new about you. So, step back and look at your essay again – did they learn something about you that they wouldn’t have known prior to reading your essay?
The college admissions committees really do read the essays! Don’t think you can just throw something down on paper and have it be “good enough.” These are formal essays for an application to a college that will be the launching ground for the rest of your life. While that sounds intimidating, just relax and start writing – and editing – and then do some more writing and editing…
One of the biggest challenges as you write your essay is controlling the tone. You want to come across as confident but not boastful, self-assured but not aggressive, accomplished but not perfect. Try to avoid claiming that everything you've ever done has been unbelievably great. Don't be afraid to admit that you are human. Colleges want real, interesting people. Because it's so hard to control the tone of an essay about yourself, you will want to ask several people – teachers, friends, your parents, and your counselor – to read and respond to your essay. Get a variety of reactions, and then decide how you want to revise the essay. Remember, when getting help with essay revisions it is important to go into it with the thought that you want to get revisions so it can be the best possible essay (instead of going in hoping the editors will just say – good enough.) And yes, that also means you can’t procrastinate and put it off writing your essay until the last possible second.
PICKING THE TOPIC
The first step to selecting your topic is to think about what you want the college to know about you that will not be apparent in the rest of your application. We have developed this essay brainstorming handout that you can use to help think of what you might want to tell about yourself to the college.
Remember, it is worth putting time, energy and effort into picking a good and meaningful topic that is powerful for you because the passion you have for your topic will naturally convey itself in your writing. Additionally, many topics that come to mind immediately for you will also come to mind right away for hundreds of other students applying to college. You want to explore a new angle and show how you are different from everyone else. Try to think about what excites and interests you when picking your essay topic. Be careful though, this is not “true confessions” time.
If you are still struggling to come up with topics for your essay or how to go into depth on an essay topic idea, try to brainstorm on the following questions:
- What do you want me to learn about you in the essay?
- List your top 5 personality traits and how they have helped you in various situations.
- What did you do?
- Where did you do this?
- What were your responsibilities?
- What was your best memory or experience there?
- What inspired you to get involved or how did you get involved?
- What did you learn from the experience?
- How have your experiences changed or impacted you?
- Why was this experience meaningful?
- How have your experiences shaped your character?
- What is significant to you about being involved in these activities or receiving the honors or awards?
- How have your activities or experiences impacted you personally?
- What is your personal motto in life? How did you come to this?
- What is the value of this experience to you?
If you are still completely stuck, go to your family members and friends and ask them to help you identify traits, stories and examples of “That is so YOU” moments. (Those stories that are so perfectly you that it is hard to imagine them fitting or applying to anyone else.)
If you are given multiple questions to select from, it is often helpful to work backwards and focus first on what you want to convey and then identify stories and examples that can illustrate your point. Next look at the various questions you can pick from and think about which of your anecdotal stories fits with the questions.
COMPOSING THE ESSAY
As you consider your purpose, you should focus on being creative and coming up with a plan for your writing so that you do not just ramble. Look back at the question again before you begin to make sure you are fulfilling what the college is asking you to do (list, define, explain, compare/ contrast, evaluate, etc.)
When you are writing your essay, get specific. It is often the small things or experiences in our lives that have the biggest impact on how we feel, think or act. Sharing a specific example that speaks to who you are by illustrating your character, values and background is much more powerful than offering sweeping generalizations about yourself.
One tip is to select a topic that allows you a more narrow response and then you can use your word count to provide details and depth. It can be helpful to describe the scene or the person with sharp nouns and active verbs or by using details that will invoke the senses. How did it look? feel? smell? sound? Don’t just say that "Uncle John was odd." Show us his dog who smashed through closed windows and his unique decorating style of mixing plaid and polka dots.
Be sure to use your voice and stick to the word count. (Hint: it is always easier to cut words than to try to squeeze more in later, so answer the question fully before worrying too much about word count, but plan ahead enough so that you are at least in the ball park of your word limits.) This is a formal essay so you need to make sure that you are using proper grammar, punctuation and varying your sentence structure.
Whenever possible, start your essay with a catch – something that will engage the readers and compel them to continue reading. And I hope this goes without saying, but don’t lie. Do not make up stories that are not true or genuine. You are the best you there is and this essay is about you so show yourself off and just be careful on tone.
Don’t forget, if you are writing the main common app essay, do NOT tailor the essay to one particular college because all of the schools that you apply to will receive the same version of the main essay. Also, for what it is worth, when you are sending specific essays to individual colleges that are personalized, be sure to double check and make sure you are submitting the right essay to the appropriate college.
REVISING THE ESSAY
Give plenty of time to edit! I understand that this is different than most of the essays you have written in high school, but it is worth writing a draft, walking away from it for a few days and then coming back to read it again to take a fresh look. Many students are stunned at how the essay that they initially thought was great doesn’t meet their own expectations when they re-read it with fresh eyes. It can help to read your essay aloud and see if it feels natural and sounds like you. Time to edit and go through multiple drafts is a gift you can give yourself to drastically decrease your stress with the entire college application process.
When you begin reading through your essay again ask yourself:
- Does it reveal who you are?
- Does it represent your best academic ability?
- Does it sound like you?
Look at the overall structure of the essay:
- Does it make a stunning point at the beginning and then fizzle, or does it steadily build in interest and intensity?
- Have you made clear the relationship between your ideas?
- Is the essay well organized?
As you begin to get picky look at your word choice and make sure you are not overusing particular words. Pay careful attention to the verbs - they should give your reader a clear picture of you in action. Although the essay needs to be personal, you shouldn't overuse the pronoun "I."
The essay needs to read smoothly. As you revise and refine the piece, be sure that it has an attractive introduction, carefully crafted body paragraphs, and a confident conclusion. Look for clear transitions between paragraphs, and try to vary sentence length and structure.