‘Tis the season for filling out those college applications. While graduation is still months away, now is the time that high school seniors should be thinking about applying to the colleges of their choice. Here are a few tips from the College Foundation of North Carolina to keep in mind.

When do you apply?

Application deadlines differ from school to school. Some colleges set particular deadlines for regular and for early decisions, while others follow a rolling admission format and admit qualified students at any time they apply. You should visit the website or contact the admissions office at each college you are considering to determine their application deadlines. 

What if you miss a deadline?

You should contact the admissions office of the institution to determine if there is a possibility of late acceptance, or if there is a later deadline for which you may apply.

How much does it cost to apply?

Application fees vary from campus to campus. The application fee charge is printed on each application and students should be sure they have the most recent form with the correct fee amount. The college will typically return the application and request a resubmission with the appropriate fee if it is not correct. If you have a form and are uncertain which year it is for, you might want to check the college’s website to determine the latest application fee. 

What if you can’t afford the fee?

In cases of financial hardship, many campuses allow a limited number of application fee waivers. Since fee waiver policies and availability vary from college to college, you should check with the admissions office of the campus or campuses you are considering to determine fee waiver availability and procedures. Your school counselor may also have this information. 

What documents will I need?

Typically, a high school transcript is required (and most colleges will require a final transcript when you graduate, showing your date of graduation). Other documentation, such as SAT or ACT scores, essays and letters of recommendation may also be required. 

How will I know they received my application?

Within a few weeks of filing your application, the campus will typically notify you that your application has been received and is being processed. If the campus was unable to process your application, you will be notified as soon as possible with details of other information that is needed for an admission decision to be made. 

When will I know if I’m admitted?

Some campuses begin notifying applicants of an admission decision soon after the receipt of an application. Other campuses hold their decisions and notify students at the same time. It is not uncommon for there to be a several month period before admission decisions are sent.

How can I improve my chances for admission?

Working hard, earning good grades, and taking the right classes will improve your chances for admission. Taking either an SAT or ACT test on a timely basis for those campuses requiring standardized test scores is also helpful. Remember that you must meet the minimum admission requirements for the public universities, and that some public universities and certain majors may require the completion of courses beyond those minimums. The course requirements for the private colleges will vary from campus to campus. 

Do I have to notify a campus that I’m attending?

Some campuses require you to inform them of your plans to attend and in some cases confirm your plans with an enrollment confirmation deposit. Other campuses do not require an “intent to register”. Be sure to check carefully your admission letter to see if an intent is required, with or without a fee, and be sure to observe the deadline dates specified.