Applying for College

  • List of schools that are waiving fees during College Application Week



    Applying for college can be a stressful, time consuming process. Here is a great overview of the process: College Admissions Guide

    Below you will find information that will hopefully make that process a little easier for you.
    Need help with filling out the FAFSA? Click this link for step-by-step instructions and explanations. 


    How to Pick a School:

    Choosing schools to apply to is not an easy task! There are many factors you have to consider while being bombarded with information from colleges (some you've heard of, and some you haven't). Look over the information below for tips on how to choose colleges to apply to:



    Application Process:

    Now that you have decided which schools you want to apply to, how do you actually apply? You can use the college's website,, the Common Application (aka the Common App), or the Coalition. The Common App is a membership association that was established in 1975 by 15 private colleges that wished to provide a common, standardized first-year application form for use at any member institution.  They now have over 500 member institutions that participate. You complete one application, regardless of how many schools you are applying to that use the CommonApp. The Coalition  provides a single, centralized toolkit for students to organize, build, and refine their applications to numerous institutions.

    If you are applying to a four-year school, you will need to:

    1. Go to the college's website and locate the admissions page or prospective students page.
    2. Make sure you are viewing information for Undergraduate Admissions.
    3. Find a link, tab, or box that says 'Apply' and click on it.
    4. From there, you will probably be asked to create an account. Make sure your username and password are professional and something that you will remember. OR, you may be directed to an external site, like the Common App.
    5. Follow ALL directions very carefully in order to complete the application.
    6. Once you have completed the application, and you do not plan to make any more changes, click 'Submit'.

    If you plan to apply through CFNC, this is what you need to to:

    1.  Go to
    2. Log into your account in the upper left-hand corner.
    3. Click on the 'Apply' tab at the top of the page (in the middle)
    4. On the next page that opens, click 'Application Hub' in the middle of the page. Then select 'Start an Application' on the left-hand side.
    5. You will need to choose a school from the list (or type in the name), then, click the 'Apply' button next to the school you wish to apply to.
    6. Read the entire page that comes up before starting your application.
    7. Follow ALL directions very carefully in order to complete the application.
    8. Once you have completed the application, and you do not plan to make any more changes, click 'Submit' on the left-hand side.

    If you are applying to a two-year school, this is what you will need to do:

    1.  You can apply online, or request a paper application from the school.
    2. If you apply online, you can do so through CFNC, just follow the directions above.
    3. If you choose to apply through the community college's website, you will want to look for a tab, box, or link titled 'Enrollment', 'New Students' or 'Get Started'. You will not necessarily see an 'Apply' link until you click one of the other options first.
    4. Follow ALL directions very carefully in order to complete the application.
    5. Once you have completed the application, and you do not plan to make any more changes, click 'Submit' on the left-hand side.

    If you are applying through the Common Application, you will need to:

    1. Go to
    2. You will see 'Log In' at the upper right hand corner. Click on Student, then create an account and log in.
    3. Once you are logged in, you can begin by clicking the 'College Search' tab. Search for the schools you are interested in applying to, then click 'Add'.
    4. You can begin the application by clicking on the 'Common App' tab. Make sure you answer all questions and hit the 'Continue' button when you are finished with each section. You can go back and edit any section prior to submitting the completed application.
    5. You will then need to click on the 'My Colleges' tab and answer the supplemental questions for each school you have listed.
    6. Once you have finished entering all information, and you do not plan to make any more changes, click 'Submit' at the bottom right.
      • Here is a sample of a paper Common App that will give you a good idea of what types of questions to expect


    Residency Determination Service (RDS)

    RDS is a new system that North Carolina is using to determine residency. Below are some forms that may be helpful in navigating RDS

    RDS Basics for High School Students

    Navigating FAFSA and RDS Infographic

    RDS Reconsideration and Appeals Fact Sheet

    RDS Recover Username/Reset Password

    Process to Change Errors in Profile


    Helpful Links

    Common App Ready - a comprehensive Common App training resource 



    Early decision? Early action?

    Applying early gives you the best chance to get into the school you really want to go to, but what is the difference between early decision, early action, and regular deadline?



    Sending Transcripts:

    You can request a transcript in the guidance office. However, it takes longer to send items in the mail. If you want to save trees, money, and time you can send your transcripts through CFNC (if you're applying to N.C. schools). For directions on how to send a transcript through CFNC:

    • Visit and log into your account in the upper left hand corner
    • Click on the 'Apply' tab at the top, then on 'Application Hub' in the center.
    • On the right-hand side click 'Request a Transcript'
    • Once you are on the Request my Transcript page, make sure all of your information is correct. Your 1st and last name MUST match your PowerSchool information, you MUST include your School ID#, and you must enter your email address, gender, and date of birth. Also, make sure your account is linked to CATA. **Your School ID# is your login #.
    • Once all of the above information is entered, you can choose up to 5 schools at a time to send your transcript to at the bottom of the page.
     Also, not all schools need you to send a paper transcript! Visit our Transcript Request page to find out which schools don't need you to mail a paper copy!


    Writing a Statement of Purpose or Essays:

    Some college applications require essays and/or a statement of purpose. Below are some helpful links:


    Recommendation Letters:

    Some colleges/universities and scholarships require letters of recommendation. The most important two things to remember are: 1). Give the recommender you choose plenty of time to write a good, strong letter for you, and 2). Choose a recommender that knows you well enough to write a good, strong letter. When requesting letters of recommendation, PLEASE provide the writer with your resume! Read the following articles for more tips:


    *Social Media: Think before you post!- examining your social media presence


    **Thanks to Lee Bierer from the Charlotte Observer and College Admissions Strategies for sharing her expertise and writing many of these articles!