A Complete Guide to the College Admission Process

Do you have a student who will be applying to universities in the near future? Check out Tutor Doctor’s guide to the college admission process!

When it comes to choosing a school, students are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices – let alone the admissions process for each of them. We recommend focusing on a few key factors and trying to find a balance between them that works for your family.

Career interests. Students should research schools that have programs specializing in career pathways they find interesting. If a student isn’t sure where to start, that’s completely fine! The first two years of college nearly always consist of general education classes, and community colleges can be an excellent option for students who want to explore different fields.

Finances. Although the cost of tuition is likely to play a factor for most families, there is one thing every student should do: fill out the FAFSA. Even if you’re certain your family won’t qualify for a Pell Grant, completing the FAFSA also gives students access to direct federal loans and other benefits. Either way, it’s no secret that attending college can be a costly endeavor these days. With some prestigious private schools charging over $60,000 USD each year for tuition, it’s not hard to see how students can end up in tremendous debt. State universities and community colleges are often more accessible, both in terms of their cost of attendance as well as availability of assistance programs.

Test preparation. The ACT/SAT exams are still an important part of the college admission process, and many schools place weight on these scores when reviewing applicants. Both the ACT and SAT have associated exam fees, and multiple attempts can add up quickly. We recommend students start test preparation early in their high school career, ideally taking the PSAT test in 9th and 10th grades. We also recommend working with a test prep tutor to help simulate the environment of these exams. Tutor Doctor offers free proctored practice tests – click here for more info!

College credits. Students should make a list of all the extracurricular activities they have completed during high school. From volunteer work to artistic passions, extracurricular activities are an impressive addition to any college application and can provide applicants with a serious advantage. If you have a student who isn’t in senior year yet, consider researching AP and honors classes. Some courses even have the potential to exempt students from college classes, and high scores are very desirable to universities. In fact, an “A” grade in an AP Class is worth 5 grade points rather than the standard 4 – this is how some students are able to achieve a cumulative GPA above 4.0!

Application research. During the actual application process itself, students will need to find out what is required for the schools they are interested in attending. Some schools have specific applications that are unique to their university. Schools in the state college system often simplify the process by allowing students to fill out an application and submit it to multiple campuses in the system. Finally, the Common App is an application accepted by a number of different colleges and can be a great way for students to save time when applying to multiple schools. And remember, most schools will require an admission essay of some sort – so it’s always a good idea to brush up on your writing skills!

Want to see Tutor Doctor’s full college admissions guide? Click here.