Applying to colleges doesn’t have to be complicated! Take a look at these 5 simple steps to follow.

1. Take Standardized Tests

When: no later than fall of the senior year.

Most students take their first standardized tests in the spring of junior year. This gives students the option of knowing their score before they begin to select the schools to which they will apply. An earlier test also leaves the option of retaking the test for a better score. The ACT is offered each year in April, June, September, October, December, and February. The SAT is offered in January, March, May, June, October, November, and December.

2. Select Three Types of Schools

When: Beginning of senior year (or before).

Regardless of how many schools you will consider, try to choose three types of schools:

  • Reach schools – may not offer acceptance. Reach schools are often those that have low acceptance rates or schools where students have slightly higher average test scores or GPAs than your student.
  • Match schools – will likely offer acceptance. Your student should more-or-less fit the description of this school’s average student (in terms of test scores, GPA, course load, etc.).
  • Safety schools – will almost certainly offer acceptance. These schools may have higher acceptance rates or lower averages for performance measures.

3. Research Specific Schools

When: fall of senior year.

Some schools have separate admissions requirements for homeschoolers. Information may be featured on a separate webpage or hidden in a FAQ section. Email the admissions office for more information – they may even have specific officers dedicated to handling homeschool admission cases.

Regular decision deadlines are usually Jan. 1, but individual schools may vary. Some schools also offer Early Decision (usually Nov. 1) deadlines that may come with strings attached (i.e. a student cannot apply Early Decision to more than one school).

4. Compile Materials

When: November-December of senior year.

  • Transcripts – you may need to create your own or provide official transcripts for any communty college classes taken
  • Letters of recommendation – some schools accept letters from parents while others require recommendations from other adults who have experienced the student in an academic or extra-curricular setting (e.g. a tutor, the local librarian, activity coaches, etc.)

5. Apply!

When: usually January 1 or later (check with individual schools)

  • Send a personalized thank-you note to your interviewer (including brief references to your conversation) or the college admissions office
  • Double-check deadlines and don’t wait last minute to submit materials
  • If there is no online or email confirmation for submission, then contact the admissions office to make sure that everything has been received.
  • Don’t stress too much! You’ve done your best and the acceptance letters will reflect that.