Lesson 1: Identify the method through which you will be submitting applications to each college.

  • College’s Website: Preview the college’s application portal to ensure that you have all required documents and are aware of the opening and closing of the application submission cycle.
  • Common Application: Used by nearly 700 colleges, many institutions only accept applications submitted through the Common Application:https://apply.commonapp.org/Login
  • Coalition Application: Used by more than 90 institutions (some of which also subscribe to the Common Application). The coalition’s platform offers students their own online “locker” — a private, secure space to store materials throughout high school that they may wish to share with colleges, and provides a simple process for qualifying for application fee waivers: http://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/students.html
  • Universal College Application: Used by 24 colleges and universities: https://www.universalcollegeapp.com/
  • Common Black College Application: Allows students to apply to any number of the 53 HBCUs represented at the same time and for one $35 fee:http://commonblackcollegeapp.com/
  • After selecting your application method, complete the following areas on the College Application Plan Form (see sample):
    • Fee or Fee Waiver
    • Admission Cycle and Deadline
    • Identify the required essays and number of writing prompts
    • Indicate if you will be submitting an application supplement (Note: confirm whether you may submit a résumé or additional letters of recommendation)

Lesson 2:  Institutional Scholarship Deadlines. Many colleges automatically consider students for institutional grants and merit-based scholarships when applications are received by certain deadlines. Based on the selectively of the institution, the chances for being offered admission may substantially increase when applications are submitted via the Early Action and Early Decision cycles.

  • Confirm deadlines for institutional grants and scholarships
  • Confirm deadlines for the admissions cycle for each of your applications
  • Confirm financial aid deadlines and whether the college requires the CSS/Financial Aid Profile in addition to the FAFSA, including all required forms based on your financial aid and parent status

Lesson 3:  College Match. Confirm how well you match to each of your colleges (i.e., ’S’ for strong; ‘G’ for good; and ‘W’ for weak). Even if your grades and test scores appear to match to a college, only by reviewing the institutions’ ‘Common Data Set’ can you confirm if you have taken the expected level and type of classes. You will also be able to determine how you compare to other important areas of consideration (e.g., extracurricular activities, leadership, community service, etc.).

  • The Common Data Set. The Common Data Set contains important information regarding the admissions criteria, acceptance rates, and demographic makeup of most U.S. colleges and universities. You should be able to assess how well you meet or exceed the profile of admitted students (i.e., grades, coursework, test scores, essay, recommendations, demographic profile, etc.). For example, do you meet or exceed the expected GPA? Have you taken the expected level of coursework and required credits (e.g., 4 years of math)? Do your test scores meet or exceed the median test scores for this institution? Have you had meaningful involvement in areas valued by this institution, e.g., leadership, community service, rigorous course taking, etc.?
    • CollegeData: You should be able to review the Common Data Set for any U.S. 4-year college or university: https://www.collegedata.com/.
    • College’s Common Data Set: You may also review the Common Data Set for most U.S. 4-year colleges or universities on the school’s website by performing an Internet search on the phrase, “name of college + common data set.”
  • Match. Indicate your match on the table, based on the areas that this institution indicates as ‘Very Important.’ For example, does this institution consider coursework as ‘Very Important’ and does your high school transcript indicate academic performance and course taking consistent with students admitted to this institution? Does this institution consider test scores as ‘Very Important’ and do your standardized test scores meet or exceed the median scores for this institution?
  • Institutional Scholarships: Note institutional scholarships offered by each of your colleges (for which you qualify) on the Institutional Scholarships Form. Refer to the ‘Institutional Scholarships Activity’ to supplement your college or scholarship research.
  • College Application Plan Form: Complete the College Application Plan Form by hand and then transfer your information to the Google Doc, ‘College Application Plan Form.’
    • Click here to link to the College Application Plan Form. Use this form as the first step in developing your college application plan
    • Make a copy of each form and share the forms to cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com.

Click here to view a sample completed College Application Plan…

Lesson 4:  Finalize Your Application Plan. After committing to a set of schools to which you will apply for admission, the final step in organizing your college application plan is to create a detailed summary of the important documents and deadlines for each of your colleges. 

The College Application Plan Summary Sheet will assist you in identifying the important requirements for each of your schools (e.g., essay, interview, essay prompt, writing prompts, number of required recommendations, etc.)

  • Click here to link to the College Application Plan Form Summary Sheet  where you may enter detailed information about each college to which you will be submitting an application as part of the process of developing ‘high quality’ college application packages to each of your colleges
  • Make a copy of each form and share the forms to cpc@collegeplanningcohort.com.