Searching & Applying

Colleges have a wide range of admission policies and practices. Specific information about a school's policies and practices can be found on its website. Some of the more frequently mentioned admission practices are:

Early Admission - Some colleges accept exceptional students applying for entrance directly after their junior year. Under this plan, the college application and admission process is accelerated and simplified.

Early Decision - Students who have demonstrated sound academic ability apply for admission to their first choice college during the summer or very early in their senior year. Notification of admission is usually given in December or January, well ahead of the normal date. Restrictive policies vary with each school and must be checked carefully to see if early decision works to the individual's advantage. Generally, if you apply early decision, you must also sign a commitment to attend if accepted and to withdraw any applications submitted to other colleges.

Early Action - This plan has an application deadline date several weeks earlier than the regular application deadline. A decision is received in the senior year well in advance of the normal response date in the spring. However, students are not committed to enroll if accepted.

Rolling Admission - As soon as an application is complete (i.e., the forms, fee, and all required materials have been received and processed), a decision is made and the student is notified. It is generally advantageous for students to apply well in advance of the posted deadline because it is impossible to know how quickly the available spaces are being filled.

Regular Decision - This is the most common admission practice whereby a college accepts applications from prospective students and delays the admission decision until all applications have been reviewed. Decision letters are mailed to all applicants on the same day, traditionally in March or April.

Provisional Admission - Students who do not qualify for regular admission may be admitted provisionally. Some reasons why a student might be admitted on a provisional basis include a GPA that is too low, an SAT/ACT score that is too low, or a required class that must be taken and passed in summer school. Successful completion of one or more semesters typically removes the student from provisional status.

Deferred Admission - Students with alternate plans for the year following high school may apply for deferred admission. The application process and timetable remain the same as regular admission, but students should indicate that they do not intend to matriculate until the following year. An explanation of how the student plans to spend the year and the benefits the student expects to derive from it is usually required by the college.

Open Enrollment - This is a term now used by an institution that publishes a set of admission standards and pledges to admit any student whose credentials equal or exceed them. Most often used by junior/ community colleges.

Wait List - This is used by selective colleges who do not initially offer or deny admission, but extend the possibility of admission to a later date (usually late-May through July). Waiting list acceptances are very inconsistent. (Discuss all wait list situations with your counselor. Second semester grades and your method of reply can be critical to your acceptance.)

Useful websites for starting the college search process or researching a specific college or university.

Writing Essays

Writing a good essay is an important component in the application process.

www.essayedge.com

Common Applications

More and more colleges and universities accept a common application, streamlining the application process.

www.commonapp.org

Especially for Texans

These websites offer information specific to Texas public colleges and universities as well as many publications, brochures, and fliers.

Athletics

These websites are sources of important information about college athletics.