College Applications: Explained

June 23, 2021

Abby Rodehorst

Program Coordinator

As the next school year approaches, the rising seniors must begin the college application process. College applications typically include a summary of your high school accomplishments and results. Submissions typically consist of a high school transcript, ACT or SAT test scores, extracurriculars and volunteer contributions, and individual essays. Your high school transcript describes all of your grades and courses that you took during your high school career; this is one of the most influential parts of your application. The harder the classes and the higher the grades, the stronger chances of getting into the college of your choice.

Different Application Deadlines

There are four different application deadlines during the college application time period. There are two deadlines early on in the year: early action and early decision. The main difference between the two is that early decision requires the applicant to completely commit to the school if the applicant is accepted while early action allows for the student to not have to commit to the school if they are accepted. Both of these decisions prove dedication and can increase your chances of getting into the college of your choice, but it also requires the application to be submitted significantly earlier.

Regular decision is the most basic deadline, as it allows for more time to develop college applications. The rolling decisions occur at the same time as regular season, but instead of taking in all the applications before accepting students, the colleges accept the students as the applications are submitted. In this case, the earlier you submit your application, the higher chance of getting in.

Test Scores

Applications usually contain either results from the ACT or the SAT. They are similar in structure, but the ACT also includes a science portion. The SAT is scored out of 1600 and the ACT is scored out of 36.


Another portion of each application that doesn’t relate directly to your classes is extracurricular activities, which consist of any club participation, leadership roles in your community or school, a job, any volunteer opportunities, and any other additional contributions to the school or community. These are not necessary for an application, but the more contributions or roles you had during your high school career, the stronger your application will be. These activities should reflect your interests and personality, so remember quality is generally more important than quantity.


College essays are another massive portion of your college application, as it personalizes your application for the admissions office. Colleges release multiple essay prompts before the application processes start. Applicants can choose a number of essays from the different options. There are different platforms, the main one being CommonApp, where you can submit your Personal Statement to multiple colleges, which minimizes the number of essays you have to write. The best essays express your unique experiences, challenges, and perspectives. This is a great way to express the kind of person you are and how you would fit into the college’s social environment. Try looking at the college’s website for what they look for in applicants so you can prioritize those values in your supplemental essays.


The college application process can be daunting, but starting to develop your application early and submitting your application early will make it more manageable.