Georgia Student Finance Commission

College Application Process

College Decision Guide

College Application Process

The college application process is not as intimidating as you may think. Look at your college application as a presentation showcasing your best qualities. Most applications are available online and will request information about your family and extra-curricular activities.

College essay topics vary. Some ask you to describe a person you admire, why you want to attend that school, what books you love, or to describe a time when you experienced hardship and how you overcame it.

 As you begin the process, remember, your counselor, your teachers and your family are there to help. Just ask. Here are some common questions:


When should I start applying?

The summer before your senior year is the best time to start the college application process. Most students do the majority of their application work in the fall of their senior year.

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What is a good starting point for this process?

Find out what goes into an application and begin collecting the materials you need. Create a folder for each college you are applying to. At the front of each folder, put a checklist of what you’ll need for the application and when it’s due.

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How many colleges should I apply to?


College applications cost money. If you can narrow your selection down to three to five colleges, that is a common and manageable number. They should all be colleges you’d be happy to attend. It’s good to apply to some colleges that are a bit of a stretch for you and some that you feel will likely admit you. But most should feel like good, realistic matches.

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Should I apply early?

If you are sure about one or two college(s) you want to attend, early decision or early action might be the best choice for you. If you’re not sure, keep in mind that some early application plans require you to commit early. You may want to keep your options open.

Source: - The Facts About Applying Early:  Is It Right for You?

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What is the difference between the types of admission?

Early action is the admissions process where a student applies to a school by the specified deadline and will receive a decision after the school has completed their early action application process.  If admitted to the school, the student may have until a certain date to let the school know if he or she is going to enroll at the school.

Early decision is the admissions process where a student will apply to a school by the early decision deadline and will receive a decision after the school has completed their application process for early applicants.  The most significant difference between these two processes is that early decision is binding, which means that any student who applies and is admitted to a school through early decision is expected to enroll.  Early decision applications typically require some type of signed form that indicates this intention to enroll upon admission.  If a student is admitted through early decision, he or she is expected to withdraw all other applications and submit the matriculation fee (or fee waiver) upon receiving the offer.

Regular decision is the admissions process where students apply to a school by a deadline and will receive a decision when the school notifies all applicants. The application deadlines for regular decision will vary based on the school but typically range from November to March. 

Rolling admissions is similar to regular decision except that schools will typically notify students of their admission as soon as all admissions documents have been submitted.  The deadlines will vary by school.

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