Seniors Struggle Through the College App Process


Supplements, brag sheets, teacher recommendations. Oh my!

It’s that time of the year again where seniors are stressed, time is limited, and essays are written. This is the dreaded college process.

Though students stress out over the process, applying to colleges can actually be made quite simple, if done ahead of time.

“I wish I started the college process earlier,” notes senior Alexa Kess.

How does one get started? The process can be broken down into a few, large steps.

The Common App

The Common App is an online application that many colleges accept allowing students to fill out the same application for multiple schools at once.

If the majority of schools on your list use the Common App, it is imperative that you complete it early. Note that getting this app done early means you can get a majority of your apps done.

Next comes dealing with all those schools who are NOT on the Common App. To apply to those schools, go to the school’s website and find where to click “Apply Now.”

Application Status

You will most likely be asked “how” you want to apply:  Early Decision, Early Action, or Regular. Early Decision (binding) means that you get first dibs on housing and financial aid. If the school is number one on your list, you will want to go Early Decision because the admissions decision is “binding.” A binding application means, if accepted, you must go to that school and cancel your other applications.

Early Action (NOT binding) means if admitted,  you’ll get second dibs on housing and financial aid.

And finally, Regular decision means you find out later and get what’s left in housing and financial aid.

“It is kind of like playing the odds. You have to pick the program which is the best fit for you. I decided to apply early decision because I think the school would fit me best. You have to really do your research to decide which program is best,” says senior Jackie Olson.


Once you have chosen how you want to apply, you need to fill out all of the information. This form-filling may take a while, but you have to do it as a part of the process. Once you have all the basic information in there, get ready for any possible “supplements.”

Supplements are short essays (around 500 words) which students write to show colleges their personalities. An example of a supplement type of question might be something like “Why do you want to attend this college?” or “Tell me about yourself.”

Some would argue that the hardest part of the application is the personal narrative essay. To write a good college essay, include lots of detail, make the topic personal and interesting, and don’t brag about your achievements in a list-y way.

“The hardest part is to try to show yourself in the essay without trying to seem fake or trying too hard,” says senior Wendy Tan.

“It is very detailed in that it really shows the student not just by academics, but the essay shows personality. It is a well-rounded way to know the students,” says senior Nam Hoang.

Though the process may seem overwhelming and stressful, knowing what school awaits you once you are done with high school will be amazing. 

“The process is stressful. It is a roller coaster. It’s a lot of work to fit into a short amount of time, but it will be fine by the end, ” assures senior Libby Grimond.