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How Do I Apply to College

Helpful Reference

logo bigfuture-collegeboardQuick Guide: The Anatomy of the College Application

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Fall of your senior year is the time to start completing the college application process.  Most colleges prefer for students to submit their applications online.

Step 1: Get your transcript grades and SAT or ACT scores.

Step 2:  Finalize your college list

  • You have done your research and developed a final list of colleges with a balance of DREAM, TARGET and LIKELY schools.

Step 3: Get the College Applications

General information about college applications as well as links to the UC, CSU, Common Application and Universal Application are found on this website.


  • There are hundreds of colleges and universities that participate in the Common Application, allowing applicants to complete one common application for multiple institutions.
  • This replaces the completion of the various institutional applications, saving the applicant from repeating the same information over and over.
  • The link to the list of participating schools is on our school website.
  • If you use the Common Application, be sure to check for the required supplements from each college or university.

file folder
Organizational Note:
Set up a filing system to keep all
communication with each college to which you apply.



Step 4: Create a chart of requirements and deadlines

In the college admission process, keeping track of deadlines and requirements are crucial. Chart each application deadline, required recommendations, essays, SAT/ACT requirements, and the date the information was mailed.  Applying to college can become an overwhelming process, but creating an organization system will help alleviate some of the stress during that time.

The deadlines for the California public system are as follows:

    • California State University from October 1st through November 30th
    • University of California from November 1st through November 30th.

Take note of deadlines for SAT, SAT Subject Tests and ACT if you plan to test in the fall of senior year.  A complete listing of test dates and links to College Board and ACT is found on our website under Counseling/CCC > College Admission Tests

Be aware as well of early action and early decision policies at various campuses. The requirements for these programs will vary by institution so it is important for the student to research the policy for each campus. (Go to the section “Applying Early” for more details.)

Naviance logoNaviance can help track your deadlines. Go to the Colleges folder and click on “My Colleges” Then use the “Colleges I’m Applying To” feature to enter the college name.



stopwatch with Deadline in red textIt is important to research the application requirements and deadlines for each school.  Do not procrastinate.  Do not treat deadlines as though they are flexible.  Use your created chart to track requirements and to mark your progress. Use your calendar to stay on top of upcoming deadlines!


Step 5: Complete the Applications

submit your app online (white text on h=blue box)
There are a number of pieces to complete the application process, the first being the actual application. The application contains biographical and personal information.  Many colleges will require you to write an essay or personal statement. The topic for these will be found in the application or application supplements.


    • Many colleges also require students to submit their academic record, which would include the completed curriculum, grades and senior year work in progress.
    • Official transcripts are often required to be sent to the college or university.
    • For the FHS procedure for ordering and sending transcripts, go to
    • Students are also responsible for submitting their official test scores directly from the testing agency. (Go to the section “Sending Scores” for more details.)

Some colleges and universities require a school recommendation or Secondary School Report (SSR), which would be completed by your counselor.
FHS utilizes our own Secondary School Report form, which is intended to replace the school specific or common application SSR. This form is accompanied by a counselor letter of recommendation that describes the student’s growth and development while at FHS, as well as contributions to both the school and community. If you have any questions, please see your Counselor.

Finally, teacher recommendations may also be required by some colleges and universities.  Students should check the school’s specific requirements regarding teacher recommendations.  The teacher recommendation is intended to describe the student’s performance in the classroom, contributions and potential for studying at the college level. This is a snapshot of the student within a particular context of the classroom. (Go to the section “Teacher Recommendations” for more details.)

Step 6: Submit the Application

apply now keyboard
Do not wait until the night before the application
is due to submit your applications!


With the CSU and UC Applications, you may begin to fill them out as soon as they are available on the website, but they cannot be submitted until the filing period opens on November 1st.  Our best advice is to complete these applications by Thanksgiving and enjoy your holiday.  As the deadline on November 30th approaches the system gets overloaded and has been known to crash, leaving anxious or disappointed students on December 1st.

Print the receipt acknowledging that your application and payment have been submitted.  If you receive an e-mail from the college verifying receipt of your application, print the e-mail for your records.

Step 7: Submit Mid-Year Reports

Most private colleges will require students to submit seventh semester grades. Foothill High School has a mid-year report form that would be completed and submitted with the official transcript.

Your Counselor will send the mid-year report electronically and transcripts in early February, after first semester grades have been posted to the transcript.  If you have any questions, please see your Counselor.

Note: The UC and CSU schools do not require transcripts, unless requested by the school. Students self-report their courses and grades in the online application. In most cases, it is only required that a student submit a final transcript to school they will matriculate.

Step 8: Communicate Any Changes with the Colleges

The student must communicate any changes to the admissions office after the application has been filed.  For example, if you make a level change or drop a class you listed on your application, you must notify the college in writing of the change.  It is important to communicate changes with the college, otherwise, the institution would have ground to rescind your admission.  See you counselor to discuss any changes and how to handle this.