Signing up for college is one of the biggest steps you can make in life, so it’s important to make sure you do it right. Applying for college goes beyond submitting an application to the college or colleges of your choice. You’ll need to obtain your high school transcripts, apply for student aid and apply for housing once you’re accepted. If you fail to prepare for the admissions process, you may lose out on federal student aid, limited student housing or even your enrollment.

Ask your high school admissions office for a copy of your transcripts. All colleges will request to see your transcripts when you apply.

Identify which schools you want to apply to. You should have a list of five to eight schools that you want to apply to, in case one or two cannot admit you.

Call each college and ask when applications for the upcoming semester are accepted. Ask how you can apply as well. Many colleges have an online admission form, but others require that you fill out the application in person. Apply immediately when the college begins accepting applications. You can declare your major when you sign the application or wait until you’re accepted.

Visit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website and fill out the FAFSA if you’re going to need student aid. To fill out the FAFSA, you and a parent or guardian must request a PIN prior to filling out the application, which you can do on the FAFSA website. During the application you’ll need financial information from your parents or guardian. After your application is processed, you will receive notification of your financial aid package, such as any offered grants and loans.

Confirm your enrollment when you receive an acceptance letter or email from the college you applied to. You’ll either have to confirm the acceptance letter electronically or by signing the acceptance letter that comes in the mail.

Apply for housing. Unless you plan on commuting or finding housing yourself, you’ll need to apply for housing through the college. You can usually apply for housing either online or in person.

Follow instructions for placement tests and obtaining student ID. The college will inform you if you need to take any placement tests and will also inform you about obtaining your student ID. Without a student ID, you cannot sign onto the campus computers or access most of the campus buildings.


If you are denied federal student aid, you can apply for private student loans.

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