Components of the College Application banner

Components of the College Application

Every college and university has its own admissions requirements based on their academic standards, school structure and the types of programs offered. General admissions application requirements can include the following elements to help colleges learn more about who you are:

Application form

Carefully read and fill out the application form. Do not be afraid to ask questions about anything that is unclear. A simple mistake can mean the difference between getting into a college or not.

Essay (or other writing sample)

The essay is one of the most important parts of your application, and your chance to shine. Colleges are interested in how well you express yourself in writing. Be sure to think about the impression you want to make. Leave plenty of time to do your essays -- you will probably have to write many drafts before you get one that is just right.

The good news is that college essay topics tend to overlap, so you may not have to write a new essay for each application. Be sure to get help from your high school guidance counselor and teachers. Look through your past work -- you may have already written an essay for a class that can be adapted into a college essay.


Your transcript shows the high school(s) you attended, courses taken and your grades, as well as your Regents exam grades, cumulative grade point average (GPA), SAT, SAT subject tests and ACT scores, and school attendance. Colleges use this information to determine if you satisfy admissions and eligibility requirements. It is also used to determine if you met high school graduation requirements.

School profile

If your high school has a school profile (ask your high school guidance counselor), it is a good idea to attach it to your transcript before sending it to the college. The profile paints a picture of your school for the admissions advisers and offers information about your school's environment.

Test scores

These include your scores from the SAT or ACT. Colleges vary on whether or not they also consider the SAT essay when they review applications.

Recommendation forms

Ask for recommendations from people who know you well -- teachers, guidance counselors, employers or any adult who can comment, favorably and in depth, on your skills, maturity, integrity and personality. Be sure to give them the forms well in advance of the application deadlines.

List of activities

This list should include all the extracurricular activities you participated in throughout high school. There are websites that can help can help you craft a professional résumé to submit with your application.

Fee or fee waiver form

You will need to submit a check or money order for the application fee. If you are requesting a waiver, use the College Board Waiver Form or letter from your school. Some colleges may have their own forms as well.

Optional sample of creative work

If it is required, include a creative writing sample, portfolio or audition CD.