Applying to college is a daunting process — we're here to help.

Not sure where to start? Find an expert in your state here or read below to learn more about applying to college. 

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the common app

The Common App is the admission form used by more than 700 colleges. It makes it easier to apply to more than one school at a time.

Learn more about the Common App here.

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how many schools should i apply to?

As a general rule of thumb, you should aim to apply to between four and eight schools.

It’s important to apply to several different types of schools — target schools where you fit within their admissions criteria, reach schools that may be a competitive stretch, and “safety” schools that are almost certain to accept a student with your qualifications.

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what about application fees?

In general, college application fees range anywhere from $25 to $90, and high-demand colleges with national brand names tend to have higher fees.

When you take the SAT or ACT, be sure to take advantage of the four free score reports included in the test fee. Beyond those four free reports, you will have to pay approximately $15 per school to send additional score report.

Be sure to budget for these fees and be prepared to take advantage of the free score reports when you take the SAT or ACT.

If you are an income-eligible student who takes the SAT using a test fee waiver, you can choose four colleges from over 2,000 participating colleges and apply for free. 

If you registered for and took the SAT or one of the SAT Subject Tests using a fee waiver, you are automatically eligible to receive four college application fee waivers. Read more about SAT fee waivers.


is early admission right for me?

Early Decision typically requires a binding commitment if you’re accepted. Early Action does not. Since Early Decision is binding, you should only apply if you’re sure you want to attend that college and that you can afford it.

Some schools have more flexibility in enrolling students and don’t have a deadline … and some read on a first-come, first-served basis. Don’t miss  an opportunity because you applied late.

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writing the perfect college essay

Use your essays to show admissions officers how you will be an asset to their campus. No one can tell your story better than you can!

Be sure to have a parent of other trusted editor triple-check for any typos, spelling mistakes, or grammatical errors.

Don’t list your qualities; share an experience that highlights them.

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recommendation letters

Who should recommend you? Teachers, coaches, and community leaders who know you well and think highly of you.

Ask your “recommenders” well in advance of the application deadline, and give them any necessary guidelines. When they submit the letter, be sure to send them a handwritten thank you note!


conquering the sat/act

Many colleges require you to send scores from a standardized admissions test like the SAT or ACT. While these tests may seem daunting, your scores are just one part of your college application. You can prepare for these tests with free prep materials.

Check with your school counselor for more information on these tests,    or learn more from the College Board here.