by Sophia Cox

It’s officially October which means that college season has arrived. Researching and applying to colleges can seem not only intimidating, but also extremely confusing. If you found that statement to be true don’t worry; we’ve got you covered at The Jaguar Post and by the end of this article applying to colleges will be a breeze. 

The words “Common App” may ring a bell in your head. The Common App stands for Common Application and is the website that most private universities use for their admissions process. Navigating the Common App is fairly simple. 

Step 1: Visit the Common App website at www.commonapp.org 

Step 2: Click on the black “create an account” button in the top right hand corner of your screen and follow the instructions to make an account. 

Step 3: Once you have your account, you can search the colleges you are interested in applying to on the “college search” tab. Add those colleges to your “my colleges” by clicking on the plus next to the university name. 

Step 4: Click on the “common app” tab to fill out your general information concerning yourself, parents, and possibly siblings. This part of the application will be shared with all the universities you are applying to.

Step 5: Click on the “my colleges” tab and select a college. On the left hand corner you will see a selection of drop down menus. Fill out each section according to what the college is asking for whether that be general information or written responses. This information will only be visible to that specific school.

Keep in mind that each application may have different deadlines depending on the school. You can keep track of those due dates in your “dashboard” tab in your account. More information on due dates can be found by clicking on a specific college and looking on their “main page”. In addition to filling out your own criteria, some schools require letters of recommendation and transcripts from counselors. To add these to your application do the following:

Step 1: Select a college from the “my colleges” tab. 

Step 2: Select “recommenders and FERPA” 

Step 3: To add a counselor click on “invite counselor” and type in your counselors school email address. To add a teacher click on “invite teacher” and type in the teacher’s school email address. 

Step 4: Invite other recommenders as you please in the other eligible recommender slots. 

It is important to note that different schools have different requirements for transcripts and letters of recommendation. By visiting each school’s “recommenders and FERPA” tab you will be able to view such requirements. 

That was a basic rundown of the Common Application; however, there are other websites that hold importance to college admissions.

One of those websites is the FAFSA; also known as the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This website can seem like a headache just from reading the name, but I promise you it’s not all that bad. Here are some basic procedures to follow when completing the FAFSA.

Step 1: Visit studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa

Step 2: Click on the “start here” button and choose whether you are a student or the parent.

 *Both the student and the parent must make their own separate FAFSA accounts.

Step 3: Click on the “create one” button in small, blue, underlined letters above the student’s FAFSA ID

Step 4: Fill out the information asked for by the FAFSA and continue until your account is made.

Step 5: Once in your account select the 2020-2021 school year and click on the continue button. It will ask for a “key” which is a password for you, and your parents to use in order to continue working on you application at a later time. 

Step 6: Fill out the information as asked for by the FAFSA website.

* When you reach the step regarding linking your parents IRS/tax returns, you are allowed to enter the information manually; however, it is much simpler to link their FAFSA account. Click on the link account button and enter your parents login to their personal FAFSA account. This is why it is important that they make their own FAFSA ID. 

Step 7: Make sure you submit your FAFSA once it is completed.

The deadline to complete your FAFSA for the 2020-2021 school year is on June 30, 2021. Although this seems like a long ways away, it is important to fill out this application as soon as possible in hopes of receiving financial aid.  

Say you plan on attending colleges located in California, then the University of California and California State University applications are for you. These applications each have their own separate websites from the common application. Here is a breakdown of each website:

The UC Application

Step 1: Vist the website https://admission.universityofcalifornia.edu/apply-now.html

Step 2: Click on the “apply now” →  “start your application” → “create an account” buttons 

Step 3: Fill out the information necessary to create an account 

Step 4: Once in your account, go through the different tabs and provide the information that is asked for

* The UC application does not require letters of recommendation or an essay; however, they do require you to answer four personal insight questions of your choice. 

Step 5: Choose which UC campuses you plan on applying to and select them on “campuses and majors” tab

Step 6: Once you have completed all the requirements submit your application!

These are the basics for applying to these college applications. Goodluck on your journey into college!