Pictured is the University Pavilion at the University of Cincinnati. University Pavilion is home to Undergraduate admissions and Financial Aid at the University of Cincinnati.

by Kaden Starkey, staff writer

The college application process is underway for the current senior class of 2021. As deadlines approach, the students are tying up any loose ends, with the hopes that it is good enough for acceptance into the college of their choice. 

A college application is a sort of form that one fills out when they are planning to attend college in the next year or so. The application can be filled out on what is known as the common app (short for common application). Some universities have their own application that the student has to fill out and submit directly to the institution. 

Applying for college can be a lengthy and stressful process because there are many different sections and components to an application. The timeline to start this process also varies widely from person to person. 

Chloe Boyden, a 2020 Bio-Med Science Academy alumna and freshman at Kent State University said, “I think you should start trying to apply around fall, November at the latest.” Another 2020 BMSA alumna, pre-med freshman, Skylar Cole, who attends the University of Cincinnati, started her essays and personal statements the summer before and had her applications submitted by late October.

The application requires personal information about the student, their parents, and their sibling(s). It also asks what the student plans to attend that college for. 

“The common app had a bunch of standard questions that I already had the answers to,” Cole explained. 

There are also academic sections with places to fill out grades, classes, teacher recommendations, and test scores and extracurricular activities such as clubs, sports, jobs, volunteering, and internships. To wrap up the application, there is an optional student essay section that they write on one of the few given topics. 

The academic section can be the source of some anxiety in the process. Some schools are strict with GPA, ACT, and SAT acceptance numbers. Schools, too, could be vague on the accepting scores, giving only an average range. High school transcripts are usually a mandatory part of the college application. Because of recent circumstances with COVID-19, a handful of colleges are becoming test-optional. This means that the student does not have to submit their ACT or SAT score when applying. Whether or not one chooses to submit a score, it will not make or break the student’s application. The score, in the end, can help to make one’s application stand out more than before. 

Aside from scores and grades, there are also teacher recommendations that most schools require. The letter does not have to be from a teacher. It could be from a counselor, someone a student has volunteered with, a family friend, or a coworker or boss. More often than not, that letter is written by an academic teacher or adviser. It is up to the student’s discretion as to which teacher(s) or other personnel they choose to write the letter. Cole states that “the teachers that I had gotten to know and teachers that had gotten to know me past the classroom” were the key factors in choosing the teachers to write her letter of recommendations. 

When asking a teacher to write you a letter of recommendation, asking in person is usually the route to go, but email works fine as well. Considering the current Coronavirus Pandemic, most students do not have the ability to ask their teacher in person. So they have to email the teacher. One should aim to give them as much time as possible to write the letter. Usually around the first couple months of senior year students reach out to their teacher of choice. Be sure to inform them when the letter needs to be completed by. If the students do not, the letter might not be completed in time for the application deadline. Something most students do not realize is the person that they ask, does not have to accept the student’s letter request. 

Often, people are unaware of the financial factor behind college applications. It can be quite surprising for many. 

“You definitely have to plan for how much each application is going to cost because some of them are only going to cost twenty bucks; some of them are eighty,” explains Cole.  

On top of application fees, students also have to pay to have their ACT scores sent to individual colleges, as well as any prior transcripts from any CCP classes (such as Stark State). Although it could be financially challenging for families, there are multiple ways that one could be assisted. There are a plethora of independent scholarships out there for students to apply to. Alongside the independent scholarships, there are scholarships that the university gives out to students. Some high schools also offer scholarships for their prospective college students. 

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is a form that all college students are urged to fill out. It opens every year on October 1st of the year before one plans to attend college. It is a free application that is a government assistance program for the financial portion of college, usually referred to as financial aid. The funds in this program are determined by one’s financials, such as income and federal taxes. Funds are given out on a first come first serve basis. The funds given can be seen as a grant, a government loan, or a work-study opportunity for the student.

The amount of schools that one applies to is specific to the individual. Some people apply to only one school while others apply to over ten. The schools that one applies to varies among the student and their future outlook. Many apply to schools that their family approves of while some apply to colleges abroad or one that sits close to home. 

When asked what advice she would give to current seniors going through this process, Cole responds with, “For seniors specifically, what you want is going to matter most in the end because you are the one going to that school.”

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