Beginning your college application process: 4 considerations as you get started

The college application process can seem daunting, especially if you aren’t sure where to begin. Start with these steps to feel more confident in your search for the right college!


Consider what type of school might be the best fit for you. Are you looking for a big state school with a strong athletics program? Or maybe small classes sizes are more important to you. Which colleges offer the academic programs you’re interested in studying? If you are interested in community service, study abroad, or a certain student organization, which schools offer those opportunities? See if you can make a list of the main things important to you in a college and that can help you narrow down your list.


Be sure to research your top schools’ dates and deadlines, such as:

  • If application fees are waived for early applicants, what is the deadline?
  • Does the college have a hard deadline for regular decision applications or do they offer rolling admissions (year-round)?
  • When is the decision release date for early applicants versus regular decision applicants?
  • Are there scholarship opportunities that require a separate application, or attendance at a special event? Do you need to apply by a certain date in order to be considered?
  • When is the priority financial aid deadline for each school on your list?
  • By what date will you need to officially secure your spot in the incoming class?


As simple as this may seem, thoroughly thinking about where you want to spend your next few years can be a big task! As soon as you begin narrowing your list of schools, also take the time for you and perhaps your family to take a visit to each. Virtual tours are amazing, but there are aspects such as campus life, the surrounding areas, and the campus itself that can only be experienced while actually walking onto campus.

While on a tour or visit to the school, speak with your tour guide, admissions representative, or student ambassadors about what it’s really like to be a student there. Whether you’re down the road or across the globe, being familiar with and enjoying the location of a specific school will contribute much to your overall experience!


Now that you’ve done your research and have found schools with your ideal location, academics, and student life, it is time to apply! When applying, it is a great idea to reach out to your admission counselor at each college. They are there to help and enjoy doing so! Determine if you will apply on the college’s website or through the Common Application. Make a list of all the supporting materials needed (essay, transcripts, recommendations, etc.) so you can start preparing these for submission.

Stay organized, stay in touch with your college representatives, and you can handle this. Good luck!

Oglethorpe University is a small college in the big city of Atlanta where students have the best of both worlds. You’ll build relationships with caring professors, enjoy small classes on a gorgeous campus, and take advantage of all the professional opportunities Atlanta has to offer. Learn more.

Meet author Autumn Johnson, admission counselor and 2020 graduate of Oglethorpe University. 

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