College Application Process

Getting Applications:

When you have decided to apply to a school you can obtain applications using a number of methods:

  1. Look on the school's website and see if the application is available electronically.
  2. Contact your Dater High School Guidance Counselor.
  3. Email the Director of Admissions and ask if they can email you the forms.  If you wish to apply for scholarships, you may ask them for this information as well.

The Common Application:

What is the Common Application?

  • The Common Application (also known as the Common App) is used for undergraduate admissions.  Students may apply to any of the 456 member schools using this application.

What are the advantages to using the Common Application?

  • The Common Application allows students to fill out one application and send it out to a number of different schools, rather than having to do a different application for each school to which they apply.  

Where can I learn more about the Common Application or begin an application?

Where can I get a list of schools that accept the Common Application?

Completing The Application:

  1. Make a photocopy of the application and first fill out the photocopy application in pencil.  This will allow you to make mistakes along the way.  Once you have completed your draft, you can then copy the information in neat handwriting using pen onto your final application.
  2. If there are any questions that you do not know how to answer contact Ms. Nowlin at nowlinp@cps-k12.org or 363-7205.
  3. If you apply via email or electronic submission make sure to print a copy of your application.  Keep this copy in a safe place for your reference.
  4. Typical materials and information you will need to complete your application:
    • Number of students in your graduating class
    • Your class rank
    • Date of graduation
    • Your Social Security Number
    • Your current GPA
    • Letters of recommendation from teachers and/or other mentors (Be sure to review each institution's specific requirements)
    • A personal statement responding to a prompt outlined by the school.  (Be sure to review each institution's specific requirements)  

Transcripts:

Many schools require applicants to submit an official copy of their transcripts.  Remember- only transcripts sent to the school directly from the counselor's office are official.  It takes at least 2 weeks for the counselor to process a transcript request.

College Essays/ Personal Statement:

 Students' response to these essays allow colleges to measure "intangibles" or personal qualities that are not revealed through test scores and grades.  

 Although applicants are not typically admitted to a school based on their essay alone, a well written essay discussing a unique or interesting topic can set an applicant apart from the rest.  

For more information on how to write a college essay, contact your English teacher or Ms. Nowlin.  You can also visit the following helpful websites:

Some tips to keep in mind when writing your college essay:

  • Be Yourself: Your essay should be sincere and personal.  This is your opportunity to let the school know who you really are.
  • Don't Write A Resume: Don't repeat information that is found in other parts of your application.  Focus on a more specific topic.
  • Write About Something Important to You: A good topic is one that you are passionate and excited to write about.  Your passion will be reflected in your writing and will make your essay stronger.  Never choose a topic because you think it is what someone wants to hear.  
  • Mechanics Matter: Grammatical problems, punctuation errors, and spelling mistakes can hurt your chance of being accepted. Even a few errors, however, can be a strike against you. They show a lack of care and quality control in your written work, and your success in college partly depends upon strong writing skills.  Have an English teacher review your essay to ensure your final submission is free of errors.  
  • Proofread: Make sure you have proofread your essay one last time before it is submitted to be entirely sure it is free of errors.

Letters of Recommendation:

Your guidance counselor, Ms. Nowlin, will complete your school recommendation form.  Schedule a time to meet with her for a few minutes to provide her with the information she will need to compete this form.  

Colleges also require letters of recommendation from teachers and friends who know you well. Some colleges will ask you to request recommendations.  Others ask you for names of references so they may write to the persons for the recommendation.  In either case, before providing the name of any teacher or friend as a reference, ask permission to do so.  At the same time, furnish them with a stamped, addressed envelope and personal resume.