Contact us at 805.618.2340

Senior Toolkit

Section 2: The Application

“Every application that we received was read by at least one human. From Halloween to March 29th at 3 p.m., that is all we do: read applications, seven days a week, from 9 in the morning until 10 at night.”

-Yale University

The College Application

What goes into your college application?

Most of your application will be basic data entry: your family background, your educational history, standardized test scores, a list of your extracurricular activities, and more. It can be tedious, but it’s extremely important to make sure that you get it right. Your information must be accurate, your grammar must be impeccable, and the image you present should be genuine and honest.

There’s also a lot to keep track of. Which applications require an essay? Do they require more than one? What about recommendation letters? When is each application due? The Application Checklist Spreadsheet will help you stay in control of all this, so be sure to put it to work as soon as possible. You can find a link to it—and all the Senior Toolkit’s companion materials—at the end of this section.

Some of the questions answered in this section's video:

What types of applications are there?

What are the different components of the Common Application?

What information will I need to have on hand when I fill out my applications?

What should I know about rec letters?


Video: The Application (4:22)


  • Once you’ve submitted your application, don’t forget to confirm that the college has received it, along with all other required materials. It’s your job to know if something is missing.
  • Your application will be submitted online. Do not wait until the last minute to submit it; the systems have been known to crash under the heavy load in the hours before the deadline.
  • Proofread everything extensively before you submit it. Have someone else proofread it too, if possible.


Other Sections in the Senior Toolkit: