The College Application Process
Plan to have all applications in by Halloween of your senior year. Many colleges have priority application deadlines for scholarship consideration or early admission, and most of them are November 1st. However, make sure to check college website admissions pages and keep track of deadlines, because some happen earlier (like October 15th!).
A complete college application includes:
- Online application (sometimes includes college admission essays. NEVER submit the first draft of an essay. ALWAYS have somebody check it over for you!)
- Transcript (requested via Parchment to be sent to ALL colleges you apply to)
- SAT and/or ACT scores (located on your transcript, but can also be sent directly from College Board/ACT. Colleges such as U of M and MSU require that your scores are sent DIRECTLY from the testing agency, not on your transcript!)
- Application fee or fee waiver (if applicable) - fee waivers are available for students enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program
STEPS TO COMPLETING YOUR APPLICATION
STEP ONE Complete an online application and pay fee (if applicable)
The application should be submitted online with no misspelled words and proper capitalization and punctuation. Your application becomes an important part of your credential file at the admissions office and the financial aid office and should create a favorable impression of you. The majority of college applications are completed online, but some colleges will provide a paper copy upon request.
Make sure your Social Security Number, address, legal name (NO nicknames!), and email address are entered correctly on your application to avoid processing delays.
Essays are extremely important to your application if the college requires them. Write many rough drafts of your essays and have an English teacher or the counseling office staff review them. When you are satisfied (grammar, spelling, content), copy it into the application.
If needed, arrange for letters of recommendation to be sent to the college. Contact people at least one week prior needing the letter. Make sure to send them a thank you note for writing you a letter.
If required, have a credit card ready to pay the application fee online, or mail a check or money order (made out to the college) to the college with your online application submission confirmation page. If you receive free or reduced lunch, you can see the counseling office for an application fee waiver form.
STEP TWO Request your transcript on Parchment and arrange to have SAT/ACT scores sent
Colleges will NOT process your application until your application file is complete. This includes an official high school transcript showing your most recent grades and your SAT/ACT scores.
Transcripts can be requested on Parchment. When you created your Parchment account in the beginning of your senior year, you were recommended to use your GHS email address and password.
The final senior grades and certification of graduation will be sent in June to the college you plan to attend.
Remember that all colleges grant admission on the basis of your satisfactory completion of ALL high school course work. Colleges have been known to deny admission (or revoke admission) to students whose senior grades (or course selection!) indicate a lack of effort, including the last semester of senior year!
SAT and ACT scores are printed on your transcript and most colleges will accept them this way. However, some colleges (MSU and U of M in Michigan) require your scores be sent directly from the testing agency (either College Board or ACT). Make sure you check with the college directly to see how they accept your scores and make arrangements to send them from the testing agency if required.
STEP THREE Attend Financial Aid and Scholarship Meetings at GHS with your parents
These events are important for understanding how to pay for college and what forms and applications need to be submitted. Be on the lookout for these dates and be sure to attend!
STEP FOUR Submit the FAFSA
The FAFSA (or Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is an online application through the federal government that the federal and state governments and colleges use to grant financial aid. The FAFSA becomes available on October 1st each year and must be submitted by March 1st for priority consideration. Funds are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis, so apply early! See the Financial Aid and Scholarships page for more information.
STEP FIVE Turn in scholarship applications for local scholarships
The Fremont Area Community Foundation and Gerber Foundation are two of the largest scholarship sources in Newaygo County. Be sure to submit these applications in a timely fashion (FACF by March 1st, Gerber Foundation by February 28th). See the Financial Aid and Scholarships page for more detailed information on these and other scholarships.
STEP SIX Review your award letters and make your college decision
After you submit the FAFSA, colleges will send you an award letter. This letter outlines the financial aid that the college is able to provide, relative to the cost of attendance. This will help you decide how much each college will cost for your freshman year. Keep in mind that this letter ONLY tells you the financial aid you will receive your first year. The FAFSA will be need to be submitted each year and a new award letter will be generated. Depending on your family's financial situation each year and if you plan to live on or off campus, your award letter may change. Make sure to consider the 4-year cost of attending each college, not just the affordability of the first year.
Once you have decided, notify the college you plan to attend by signing up for orientation and submitting your enrollment deposit (instructions for this are found in your acceptance letter). You must do this by May 1st in order to secure your place at the college.
Notify the colleges you do not plan to attend that you have decided to attend elsewhere so they can release your place in the class to someone on the waitlist and disperse your financial aid elsewhere.
Make sure the counseling office knows where you plan to attend so that your final transcript is sent to the correct college.