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College Applications

College applications can be complicated. Follow these tips if you need help.

Start Early

Research schools in your junior year of high school. Then, contact schools that interest you in the summer or early fall of your senior year. Phone numbers and websites for Minnesota schools can be found at Find a School.

Apply to More Than One School

It's a good idea to apply to four or five different schools. This gives you a backup plan in case you are not accepted into your first choice school.

Read Your Mail

Check mail from schools immediately. A letter might contain important deadlines, directions for acceptance, or steps you need to follow to receive housing or financial aid.

Ask Teachers and High School Counselors for Help

As part of the application process, colleges require high school teachers and career counselors to submit information about you, such as transcripts, report cards, recommendation letters, and profiles. You are responsible for contacting your teachers and counselors, explaining your needs clearly, and tracking their progress.

If your school uses the Naviance Network, you and your counselor may be able to do almost everything electronically, including:

  • matching you with scholarship awards
  • tracking applications
  • tracking teachers who are writing recommendations
  • sending all the required paperwork to colleges and universities online

Complete the Application Form

  • State colleges and universities. A single application form can be used at any of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. The application can be found with your high school career counselor, at any state college or university, or online at www.mnscu.edu.

  • Private colleges, universities and career colleges. For private institutions, you'll need to contact each individually for applications. You can also check the Minnesota Private Colleges Council or the Minnesota Career College Association for information and links.

  • University of Minnesota. Request an application from the admissions office at the campus that interests you. There are campuses in the Twin Cities, Crookston, Duluth, Morris and Rochester.

To apply at other colleges:

  • Check if the college accepts the Common Application. This allows you to use one application to apply to multiple schools. Many private colleges accept the common application. The online application can alert your teachers and high school counselor and track their progress with the required paperwork.

Whichever application you're filling out, follow these guidelines:

  • Look for application instructions in the school's catalog or on its website. Follow them exactly. Ask your parents or career counselor for help if you need it.
  • Always make copies of everything you submit.
  • Wait two to six weeks for a response to your applications.

Create a Checklist

Each school has different application requirements. This means you need to keep track of the following tasks for each school you apply to:

  • Application fees. If the fee presents a financial hardship, ask if you can have it waived.

  • Application deadlines. Many private college deadlines are early— often in January or February for priority status. State colleges and universities welcome admission applications throughout the year.

  • Transcripts and other certificates. Is a high school transcript or GED certificate required?

  • Test scores. Are ACT, SAT, or TOEFL test scores required? Undergraduate Admissions Tests are used for admission and/or placement at many schools, but may not be required of adults (especially at two-year colleges). If you are applying for a graduate or professional program, you may need to take a Graduate Admissions Test.

  • Essays. A short essay or personal statement may be required. If you've been out of school for some time, you may want to submit a personal statement even if it is not required. This will give you an opportunity to describe your background, academic interests, and motivation.

  • Letters of recommendation. These are only required at four-year colleges and universities. If you've been out of school for some time, you should use references from employers or professional acquaintances who can comment positively on your abilities.

Remember to keep all of your school information and applications in one place!

Additional Steps for Adult Students

Not all admission requirements apply to adult students who have been out of school for some time. Although usually not required, you might also want to consider supplementing your application by including:

  • A copy of your resume
  • A list of the education you've had since high school, including continuing education, certifications, or training received through your job
  • An online portfolio indicating your education and work accomplishments

Check into Financial Aid and Scholarships

Regardless of your income, it is a good idea to check into your financial aid and scholarships options.