top of page


How do you apply for college?

How do you get accepted into a college? What do colleges look for?


Well, the answer depends on the type of college and other requirements.


Community colleges and technical colleges do not have GPA or test score requirements.  Anyone can be accepted as these institutions. They also do not require letters of recommendation or essays! It's very simple to apply to these types of colleges.


4-year colleges or universities typically will consider the five main items when reviewing applications. It's called the "Big 5."

  1. GPA

  2. Test Score

  3. Letters of Recommendation

  4. Essays

  5. Extracurricular Activities


Every university is different. Some colleges might not require test scores or will make it test optional. Some universities might not need an essay or letter of recommendation, while another might require two essays and two letters of recommendation. The requirements vary, but one or more of the Big 5 will be considered.  It's important for you to continue to earn good grades and to get involved as you prepare for the college admissions process.




How can I research colleges?


Peak Education and Elevated have purchased MaiaLearning for you!  Use MaiaLearning to research colleges and to save them to your list! 

While we encourage you to use MaiaLearning first, there are some other great tools that you can use:



When and how do I apply to college?


Apply during your 12th grade year! The only exception is if you're graduating early.  Applications will typically open in August of your 12th grade year.

You'll apply to a college using one of three ways:


Pay attention to deadlines! Research your college to learn about their deadlines, but below are some common deadlines:


  • Early Action (non-binding)--November 1st or 15th

  • Early Decision (binding)--November 1st or 15th (speak with a college counselor before choosing this option!)

  • Regular Decision--January 1st or 15th.

Most college applications have an application fee.  If you're eligible for free or reduced lunch, you can request an "application fee waiver" from your school counselor.


Here's the process of applying and requesting high school transcripts:

While the process is outlined below, please contact Ms. Rainey at if you have questions or need help applying. 

  1. Start your college application during the summer or fall of your senior year.

    • Type of application: choose undergraduate application and then first-year or freshman application. Even if you're a dual enrollment/GT Pathways student who'll graduate high school with an associate's degree, you still need to complete the first-year application and NOT a transfer application. ​

  2. As you near the end of the application, the application will ask you how you plan to pay.

    • If you're doing the Common App, make sure to indicate that you're eligible for a fee waiver  if this is accurate because this will allow you to submit the application without paying a fee. 

    • If you're applying to a college directly on its website. Choose the "pay later" or "send by mail" option. This will allow you to submit the application without submitting a payment.  

  3. Submit your application. 

    • Note:  If your college application requires letters of rec, you can still submit your application even if your recommenders have submitted their letters! You don't have to wait! Make sure to follow up with your recommenders and ensure they submit their letters of recommendation before the deadline. ​

  4. Ask your school counselor how you can request your official high school transcripts to be sent to colleges. If you're eligible for a fee waiver, you will tell your school counselor (or whomever is in charge of sending transcripts/fee waivers to colleges) so that your application fee will be waived.

  5. Wait for your decision . Check your email and postal mail). 





More Tips for as your Start to Apply

  • Application Portal & Advocating: Some colleges provide an "application portal" that allows you to check your application status, see if you have missing documents and to view your admissions decision once it's made. Make sure to utilize this. If your college doesn't have an application portal or you applied via Common App, you can advocate for yourself by calling the college if necessary.  If you submitted your application and want to make sure your file is complete, you can always call the college, tell them your name and say you want to check your college application status.  You can also do this if it has been a few months since you submitted your college application and you haven't heard back from them.  

  • Recognize the "auto-generated" emails. Give the college time to receive your supplement materials (i.e. transcripts, fee waivers, etc). Once you submit your college application and request your high school to send your transcripts to the college, give the college at least two weeks to receive them, process them and mark your file as complete.  In the meantime, you might receive "auto-generated" emails from the college saying you're missing materials.  Before panicking and demanding that counselor send them again, ignore these emails for at least two weeks from the time you requested your high school to send them. After two weeks, you can follow up with the college to see if they received them. If not, vist your high school counselor or the person in charge of sending transcripts and double check that your transcripts were sent.

  • Pay attention to deadlines, but recognize the "counselor grace period." As mentioned above, it's really important to note your college's deadlines and to ensure you submit your application by the deadline, but please note that the deadlines for the student might be different than the "deadlines" for your counselor and recommenders. For example, if you have an early action deadline of November 1st, this means you must submit your college application and essay (if applicable) by Nov. 1st.  Often times, however, your college counselor and recommenders have 8-14 additional days to submit your transcript, letters of rec, fee waiver and supplement materials. So, don't panic if those supplement materials haven't been submitted by the deadline.

    • While the above statement is true for many colleges, there are some colleges (e.g. the University of Denver) that require EVERYTHING, including transcripts, letters of rec and fee waivers, to be submitted by the deadlines they indicate.

Check out the videos below for more information on the topics covered above!


post-secondary pathways

how to find the best college fit

 Applying to college 101

how to make an awesome activities list

bottom of page