What’s in the College Application (for parents and students)

Completing college applications can be scary. You have done so much in the past 4 years of high school but now you must fit everything into few pages, which will then be used to evaluate you as a person by admissions officers from your dream schools. This post breaks down the most essentials components of college applications and should be used as a general guide for both students and parents who find college apps confusing.

Academic Records

As you fill out your application, you would need to fill out your test scores and GPA. Don’t worry about weighted vs. unweight GPA at this point because your high school will send your full transcripts to the colleges you apply to. The transcripts include all the courses you have taken, as well as the grades. That being said, it’s more than just a number, and schools can have a general idea of your academic strengths based on your performance.

Same thing goes to the SAT/ACT. You would need to fill out the test scores and their respective test dates, but you must also send the scores to the colleges through College Board. Some schools may superscore your tests (add up the highest scores of each section despite not taken on the same day) but you don’t have to worry about it when you complete the app.

Extracurricular Activities—use a resume doc

Before you fill out anything, open a word document and write down anything noteworthy over the past couple years. It can be awards, clubs and organizations, projects you’ve done, community service, or any other experience. This word doc can be very long and detailed because most high schoolers simply cannot recall everything on the spot. You might find yourself constantly putting things down in this document and that is great!

Next, as you fill out the actual app, thin about how you want to construct the story. Some things are more impressive if saved for personal essays, where you can write several paragraphs about these events, while some can be elaborated in a few words. Do not repeat things! If you’ve won a math award in your junior year, mention it once in the award section is enough! The point here is to be concise but specific; otherwise, save it for personal essays or attach a separate document in the additional information section.


This is without a doubt the most important component of your application. After all, this is the only thing you can fully control at this moment. If other parts of your application are good, use personal essays to highlight your special qualities, the background of certain events in your life, and show another side of you. On the other hand, if you do not have decent grades and haven’t had as many extracurricular activities as your peers, this is where you should take advantage and express yourself.

There are many strategies when it comes to writing college essays, and there are dozens of different essay prompts. Stay tuned and read more articles on writing awesome college essays from us!

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