No Cost Consultation
Back to Blog

A Comprehensive Guide to the College Admissions Process

college admissions college advisor college applications
college campus

It's no secret that college applications are a daunting prospect for just about any high school senior. Getting into your preferred college is a huge deal, after all. For most people, it's one of those life milestones you'll probably never forget. 


While the college admissions process can seem complicated and intimidating, it doesn't have to be when you're armed with the right knowledge. Whether you're a high school senior, graduate, parent, or guardian, this guide is the ultimate cheat sheet you need.


Setting Yourself Up for College 

As soon as you enter high school, your journey to the right college begins. Some of the most important factors throughout your high school career include your grades and test scores, your chosen curriculum, as well as your participation in different school activities. 


In short, college admission officers look for well-rounded students as they try to build a diverse college class for the freshman year. Take the right step by seeking college consulting assistance. 


High School Grades 

Don't fall into the assumption that your high school grades don't count, because they most certainly do. Along with your GPA and your chosen subjects, your grades are crucial to the college admissions process.


Here are a few helpful tips:


  • Make a considered choice when it comes to your classes/subjects. Try to challenge yourself with additional honors, AP, and IB classes too.
  • Yes, your grades matter, even when you're a junior in high school. Most colleges review your junior and sophomore years very closely.
  • The earlier you start to achieve and maintain good grades, the better.


Don't despair if you have a rough year, especially as a high school junior. Most colleges look at the entire picture and often commend an improvement or upward trajectory in grades. 


SAT and ACT Scores 

Yes, your most important scores when applying for college include your SAT or ACT scores. However, many admissions officers also carefully consider your scores on standardized tests. 


  • The PSAT - this is an optional test to take in your sophomore year. However, the junior PSAT is very important. It can help you qualify for a scholarship, covering the cost of tuition. A good way to prepare for the PSAT is to prepare for the SAT 
  • AP exams - good grades on these exams indicate to admissions officers how you'll perform in college. What's more, high AP scores can garner you course credits 
  • SAT/ACT - you have the option of completing either of these tests, the choice is yours. You can even do both if you want. While the essay sections of these tests are optional, some colleges do require it 


Some colleges are test optional. This means that they do not require you to take standardized tests as part of the application process. However, your test scores can help you qualify for merit scholarships. Either way, it's still a good idea to prep and take at least one standardized test. 


School Extracurriculars

Keep in mind that what you do outside of the classroom is equally as important in high school. Colleges look to accept students with an array of diverse qualities and skills. 


  • Pick a sport, school group, school hobby, organization, or job, and try to stick to it throughout your four years of high school. Your commitment will speak volumes 
  • An after-school job or volunteer work is a great way to demonstrate maturity and responsibility, which always look great on a college application 


Don't forget about what you choose to do with your summers. Choose volunteer work or look for a summer job. This is one of the best ways to boost your application to the top of the pile. 


Starting Your College Search

Finding the best college is completely based on your personal preferences. What might suit your classmates, won't necessarily suit you. So, don't make the mistake of settling for a college based on what your peers are doing. No two colleges are the same, so it's crucial that you do a good amount of research on the ones that appeal to you the most, which can help you narrow down your choice. 


A good place to start is to have a one-on-one conversation with your college counselor. You can discuss important aspects of choosing a college, such as where you stand in terms of your academics, different types of campus cultures, and the financial aid offered by different colleges. 


Another good way to broaden your knowledge of what's on offer is to attend college fairs, visit campuses, and view college profiles. Take the time to check out the dorms, clubs, and career services on offer. 


Don't forget to consider your own personal interests and your personality type -- outside of what you want to study. Keep in mind that more than 40 percent of high school seniors apply to about 5-8 different colleges, while some apply to 9 or more!


Your College Application

This is one of the most important parts of the process -- compiling and submitting your college applications. Here are some of the key decisions you'll have to make: 


  • When will you apply? In some cases, the earlier the better. Many colleges allow you to submit your applications for an early deadline (usually around the fall). But this is optional, the usual deadline is between January and February.
  • Do a deep dive into everything there is to know about the actual application itself. The key areas to focus on include your transcript, application essay, score transcripts, and letters of recommendation 
  • Don't forget to highlight your extracurricular activities, which colleges closely consider 
  • Do your research on admissions requirements for every college you apply to and follow them closely 


It doesn't hurt to schedule an interview with a college alumni member or admissions representative to help you learn more about the college you're considering. This is also a good way for them to get to know you, too. 


Applying for Financial Aid

Going to college costs money, there's no getting around that. But if you don't want to face paying off a monumental student loan for years to come, there is financial aid to consider. It's super important to educate on how financial aid applications work for each college you consider. This is one of the best things you can do for your future self and your family. 


Each college will have a financial aid website you can research, as well as a net-price calculator to help you determine your overheads if you attended that college. Bear in mind that applying for college, and applying for financial aid are two separate processes. 


If you need assistance with applying for financial aid, this is where a college admissions consultant can assist you.


Need Professional Help with the College Admissions Process? 

College applications put an immense amount of pressure on both children and parents. No doubt, it can be a stressful time. But with the help of an expert at a Charlotte college consulting agency, you can get your teenager's life off to the best start. 


Clark College Consulting is here to streamline the admissions process for you. We aim to guide you along the way with coaching, tutoring, and more - all while saving you money. We strive to be the top choice Charlotte college admissions consultant for your child’s future. Get in touch for a no-cost consultation today. 



Photo by cottonbro studio: