Image of light bulb to signify five things you didn't know about college admissionsIt’s the fall time of year…a season to wear cozy sweaters, enjoy all the pumpkin-spiced things, and get back into a school routine. It’s also applying for college season! If this is your first time applying, you may have all the feelings. Between school work, extracurricular activities, sports, etc., there is so much to get done. We totally understand! To ease some stress and help you prepare, check out these five things you didn’t know about college admissions.

Apply to 3-4 colleges 

Why apply to so many colleges? Applying for more schools gives you options because you might not be accepted to all the schools on your list. If you are accepted to several colleges, you can determine which college is the best fit and also compare financial aid offers from each school. That all happens in the spring, so let’s focus on what you need to do now!

If you have been thinking about college, you probably have a dream school in mind. You know, the school that you really want to attend but might be a stretch to be accepted for admission or is quite expensive. Go for it! You just might be able to make it work, and you don’t want to look back years from now and wonder if you should have applied.

Next on your list should be one or two realistic colleges. Typically, this includes state colleges or universities that are close-ish to home and are more affordable. Just make sure they offer your major, are the right distance from home, and provide a social climate to your liking.

The final category includes a fallback school in case things go sideways. This college or community college is often in your hometown so you can live at home, is within your budget, and allows you to take general education classes that can be transferred to a different college later – just to keep your options open. 

Plan for admission fees 

College is expensive, and even applying for admissions comes with a cost. Many schools require an application fee, the average cost being $50. However, there may be an opportunity to have this fee waived. Contact the admissions office to see if they can do an application fee waiver and if there are any eligibility criteria. Also, the fee may be waived when you apply online.

Complete optional questions

Okay, a moment of honesty: When I fill out an application, I tend to skip over optional questions. I tell myself it saves me time and energy. There may be some optional questions on the college application. Take my word for this, complete the entire application!

Why? Some schools may use those optional questions for scholarships. When you fill out the whole application, you may share information that impresses the admissions office. Filling out the entire application could set you apart from other students and potentially give you more money for school.

Understand test-optional colleges

Have you heard of colleges that are test-optional? What does that mean? Some schools are now giving you the option to include your ACT/SAT scores.

This new approach gives admissions offices a chance to look at the whole student, focusing more on your academic career and not primarily on your standardized test scores.

However, even though the college is test-optional for admissions, they may still use your ACT/SAT scores for scholarships. This is a great question to ask college admission offices.

Apply to several colleges with one application

Let’s face it, filling out college applications can be time consuming! Did you know you could fill out one application for several schools? In Nebraska, you can apply to all the state colleges and universities with a single application. This is a great way to save time AND provide more college options.

Check out these websites for more information:

If you plan to apply for colleges outside of Nebraska, consider using the Common App. This is an undergraduate college application with over 900 colleges throughout the United States. It is another great tool to apply to multiple colleges with one application.

Have questions or need help with college planning? Contact the nearest EducationQuest office.

By Alex Jurgens