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Applying to college used to be easy—you submitted an application form, and the school notified you if you were admitted. But things have changed. These days, application requirements vary, but most schools require that you submit more than just a form. The supporting documents help the admissions committee decide if you and the school are a good fit.

Application Form

Most schools have at least two ways to complete the application form: paper or online.  It is highly recommended that all students complete applications online.  Not only is it easier for colleges to read, but it is easier to track and is received by the college must faster.  Make sure you spell-check and review everything before you hit submit, you will be unable to make changes once the form is submitted online.

Some schools require you to submit The Common Application. The Common Application is an application you complete once and can submit to several schools. Information about this form and schools that accept it is available at Common App. The University of Michigan Ann Arbor is one school that currently requires students to use The Common Application.

High School Transcript

You must request copies of your high school transcripts to be sent directly to the colleges to which you apply. If you transferred schools or earned college credit while in high school, you must request transcripts from any other high school, college or university you attended.

Hartland High School students must register and request transcripts through Parchment unless a fee is required.  If Parchment requests you to pay a fee, please visit the counseling office for help.  

Standardized Test Score

Most colleges and universities require that you submit SAT or ACT test scores. Test scores help admissions committees measure your probable success in college. Some schools take your highest composite score, while others take the best combination of scores from different sections. Contact each school to which you are applying to see how they consider scores. It may determine whether or not you take the SAT or ACT and how many times you take the standardized test.

Hartland High School Transcripts will have the ACT/SAT scores listed for any past test date in which the student marked the high school code onto their ACT/SAT answer sheets.  Most schools will accept ACT/SAT scores from the transcript, though some (MSU is one example) require that the scores come directly from the testing agency.  If you need scores sent from ACT, and did not list the college directly on the ACT answer sheet, you will need to visit Act to order score reports from ACT.  If you need SAT scores sent from the College Board, you will need to visit Collegeboard to order score reports.

Letters of Recommendation

Depending on a college’s requirements, a guidance counselor, a teacher, or another adult may write a letter or complete a form about you. If a letter is needed, ask your recommender for a letter of recommendation well in advance of the application deadline. (Two to three weeks is recommended) The letter should include your full name, in what capacity they know you, and the length of time they have known you. The person should be able to attest to your capabilities and character.  It is recommended that one of your recommenders be from a course related to your intended major or from a teacher you had for an academic course.

Counselor forms are now automatically completed through Parchment.  If you have requested a transcript through Parchment, any required counselor forms will automatically be sent electronically to your counselor.  The only counseling forms that need to be turned into the office are for those colleges where a fee is requested by Parchment and thus not using the Parchment system.

Personal Essay

A personal essay may be the toughest and most time-consuming document to put together. It is important to find your voice because this is the chance for the committee to get to know you beyond the numbers. Read the questions carefully and follow directions. You will want to brainstorm ideas, create rough drafts, and have others read your essay. Certain characteristics are true for a number of students, so talk about what makes you special. It is not enough to just say you have lived in an interesting place or had a unique experience. You need to elaborate on what you learned or how you have changed because of this experience. Make sure you are answering the question that is asked, and stay within the guidelines for length.  Most importantly, Proofread! Proofread! Proofread!


Make sure you meet all application deadlines. In most cases, you need to have a completed application file by the deadline, which means that all documents must be turned in by that date. Applications postmarked by the deadline may be OK, but you will want to contact a school to find out what their policy is.  Do not request letters or forms to be filled out just days before a deadline, you may not like what the recommender writes about you.  You need to make sure you are giving extra time for all parts of an application to be received when preparing for a deadline.

Parts of this article taken from Ann Bezbatchenko’s article posted on
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