Who Submits What During the College Admissions Process?

Students usually apply to college just once - during senior year of high school. This is a new experience and with it comes uncertainty about what they do and what others involved with their process do instead. Here is a round-up of who does what: 


1. The Student:

  • Students are required to send in their portion of the application. As most colleges use an online platform like the Common Application, Coalition Application, or their own electronic application, students can easily submit their applications without fuss at any point before the deadline.
  • Many colleges use a supplement for the Common App. In fact, students can't submit an application unless they fill out the college's supplement. Some supplements ask a few basic questions while others may require responses to short answer questions and essays.
  • Test scores may be self-reported on the student's application, but colleges still need official test scores sent from the ACT and/or College Board website. Without official test scores, a college won't be able to admit a student even if they want to. This can be done online by the student.
  • If a student plans to apply to an Early Decision program, they are required to sign a form. This form usually indicates that they did not apply to another program that violates the Early Decision policy and that they will enroll at the college if admitted.
  • Any additional materials the student chooses to send (art portfolio, additional letter of interest, scientific abstract, test optional agreement, etc.) need to come from them.

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2. The School Counselor:

  • The school counselor is responsible for submitting the student's transcript, secondary school report (which may include a letter of recommendation from them), and the teacher recommendation letters. (At some high schools, teachers may be required to send in their letter of recommendation on their own.)
  • While some high schools list official test scores on a student's transcript, not all do. If test scores are delayed, a college will sometimes accept official test scores from the school counselor as a last resort.
  • School counselors are required to sign and submit an Early Decision agreement which states that they won't send the student's materials to another Early Decision, Restrictive Early Action, or any other program that violates the college's Early Decision policy to which the student has applied.
  • The mid-year report usually includes the student's first semester of grades during senior year. Even if the student gets admitted under an Early Decision or Early Action program, colleges still expect to see these grades.
  • A student's final transcript is sent by the school counselor once the student graduates and before they enroll. Offers of admission can be rescinded if the student's grades drop precipitously.
  • First-quarter or first marking period grades can be voluntarily submitted by the school counselor to a student's Early Decision or Early Action school. If the grades are very strong, this can positively impact the admissions decision.
 

3. The Parents or Guardians:

  • Financial aid forms, including the FAFSA, Profile, and any institutional-specific financial aid forms are generally submitted by the parents or guardians of the student. While students should be a part of this process, they typically aren't fully aware of the family's finances nor do they have access to tax returns.
  • Financial aid appeals typically come from parents or guardians as well. Appeals can be made after the student receives their financial aid award.
  • Colleges require the parents/guardians to sign an agreement if their child applies to a binding Early Decision program. These colleges take this agreement very seriously and require all parties involved (student, school counselor, and parent/guardian) to agree to the terms of the program which require that the student enroll if admitted.

Students need to know what they do and what others involved do for them. This outline of responsibilities will help them organize their applications and make this process more manageable.