Breakdown to avoid the breakdown

College Application: What you need to succeed


Kayla Smith

College Application

Kayla, Writer

The Breakdown. It is time to start breaking down the steps and checking off the list to completing college applications. The importance the breakdown is to inform students of how the process works, how to get started, what to look for, and everything students need to prepare for the college application process. Let’s break this down.


Junior Year, do your research. The best way to start: determine what fields interest you. If this doesn’t quite narrow the list, decide on at least 10 majors you are interested in and rate which is best in your opinion. School types. Research different schools to see what type of school would be best: Ivy-Leagues, Private/Public state universities, community colleges, and trade schools. Whatever your choice is, categorizing and rating the list will get you started on narrowing down the list.

Junior Year, getting the work done. Take your SATs and ACTs as soon as you can and as many times as you can. Most colleges will be looking at those scores to determine if you qualify. If you don’t take your SATs and ACTs junior year, you will still have the opportunity to take them senior year, but you gotta move fast if you plan on making the early application deadline.

College/University deadlines. While students have the option to apply early or later, applying early is recommended as you will hear back from your desired school sooner. But there is no issue with applying later; you will just hear back later. However, keeping up with deadlines does not just pertain to early/standard decision, but also scholarships, financial aid, college programs, etc. You may want to keep a calendar or reminder marked for specific dates.

Senior Year, Let’s discuss financials. An extremely important item on the checklist would be applying for financial aid, mainly known as FASFA. College and Career centers and online sources breakdown the steps to applying for FASFA. It is also crucial to note that colleges tend to have an application fee, so be sure to set money aside for when you begin applying. Scholarships. College readiness apps like Niche, websites like Cappax, and other sources match and allow students to apply to endless amounts of scholarships and even go as far as to match potential colleges to students based on their fields of interest.  

Letters of recommendation. Some colleges request students have at least 3 letters of recommendation. Teachers, counselors, mentors, principals, etc. are willing to write letters for their students, especially their favorites. All it takes is asking, whether in person or email. Also, it is important that you keep track of all the extracurricular activities and advanced classes you do, such as clubs, National Honor Society, AP courses, Dual Credit courses, and even academic achievements because this info will be needed for your letters.

High school transcript. Ask your counselor for both a digital and physical copy or you can access your Skyward and find it there. Universities need to see you actually went to class, got the grades, and successfully graduated. 

Senior Year, application time. Universities now use the Common App to review student applications. You can download the app or visit the site to sign up and fill out your needed information. This app allows you to find the schools you are looking for, what each one requires for application, and provides an essay function for the college essay. 

Calling for backup. Apply to all 10 of your top choices as well as a few other schools that peak your interest. Applying for multiple colleges gives you plenty of backups. Say you don’t get into the college you want, or you change your mind, you want another university to fall back on regardless of getting into your top pick or not.

Finally, your college application breakdown/checklist is done! The hardest part of college would be getting into college. If you prepare correctly, the only thing you need to feel anxious about is receiving that letter or email of acceptance, which is a given, as success is yours. 

All sources and information is listed below.

SAT and ACT info:

Financial Aid and Scholarships:,


scholarship library 



Transcript How-to:

Common Application: