Applying is a daunting, yet important step into adulthood. After years of others directing and making choices for a child, this is first time a young adult truly creates his or her own path. Creating a timeline, researching and understanding types of schools, preparing for standardized testing, understanding a family’s financial limitations, and the self reflection of essays helps a student learn who they are and what skills they need before they leave home.
Some parts of the application process should involve family. Campus tours both local and out of town can provide a time for parent and child to enjoy an adventure together. Going to new places and seeing new cities is exciting and fun. Some of my most cherished memories with my older son included long drives to visit colleges (including a beautiful 4 hour car ride along the Oregon and Washing boarder), testing new places to eat in strange cities, (where do the locals go), and the moment when I saw my son realize that he had found “the one”.
Different colleges have different application procedures. Typically public colleges will have their own process while many private colleges use The Common Application. In California, the University of California and the California State University system each have their own system.
Private Colleges – The Common Application
- Over 600 private colleges use the Common Application.
- Students can apply to multiple colleges without having to re-enter the same information multiple times.
- All colleges require demographic and academic information as well as a personal statement.
- Colleges that use the Common Application do not require A-G approved classes. (A-G is only for public California schools.)
- The Common Application allows to students request and track letters of recommendations.
- While the Common Application allows a student to enter the same general information for all colleges, different colleges have different requirements, including possible supplemental essays. Most often colleges will have a place for additional essays in the Common Application.
- Some colleges have an option to upload research, art, and music supplements. Each college will provide instructions for uploading supplemental information. Many colleges that allow art and music supplements use a program called Slideroom.
(A new application called the Coalition Application is available for some private and public colleges.)
Most states have their own application. In California each university system has its own application.
The University of California System
- The UC system uses one application for all campuses.
- An application cannot be tailored to a specific campus.
- The UCs have new personal statements (as of 2016).
- UC GPA is calculated using classes from 10th and 11th grade only.
- At this time the UC system does not ask for letters of recommendation
- Some campuses do ask for more information or extra essays once an application is turned in.
- The UC system requires A-G courses, however, you can still apply without approved A-G courses.
Typically the application for the University of California opens in early fall and closes on Nov 30th.
The California State University System
- Applicants who wish to apply to the CSU system use the CSU College Mentor.
- A student will use this portal to apply to all CSUs.
- Typically a student will apply to one campus and the information will be transferred to any other campuses the student subsequently applies to.
- The CSUs do not require personal statements or letters of recommendation.
- The CSUs use Eligibility Index Score which consist of GPA and SAT or ACT score.
- The CSU GPA is calculated using classes from 10th and 11th grade only.
- There are alternative methods for students with disabilities who have not met the requirements but who still qualify.
Like the UC system, the CSU system states that they will allow SAT Subject Tests to substitute for A-G requirements. .
Typically the application for The California State System fall semester opens in early fall and closes on Nov 30th.