By Dr. Gina La Monica
College admissions application portals vary so research each of the sites thoroughly before starting your college admissions process because you do not want to expend too much energy on a site to find out another site might be more user-friendly or a better fit for your needs. What further complicates the application process is that some colleges allow a student to submit their information to either of the three sites: college’s portal, Common App, or the Coalition App. When this happens, it is more advantageous to use a platform that subscribes to all your colleges of interest so that you do not have to complete multiple applications. Additionally, you do not want to overburden your counselors and teachers either by requiring them to submit their documents to numerous websites.
If you are applying to a public university, most of them have their own admissions portal. For example, the University of California and California State University systems will only accept applications from their sites. Moreover, they have their own unique applications along with their specific requirements. Therefore, if you are applying to any of these institutions, plan on completing an additional application. Fortunately, you can apply to many colleges within each system with one application.
The best advice is to start early. Review what portals have your colleges listed as members. Figure out when each admissions portal will be available to students. Most of them open on August 1, but a few open as early as July 1. Work on the applications that open first to get a head start in this lengthy process. Create a Google folder with documents and information you will need for each application, such as family background, resume, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a list of your awards, activities, work experience, and community service. This will save you time in addition to ensuring you do not forget any pertinent items to include in your applications. Remember, once you hit the submit button, it can be difficult to revise or add any additional content.
Most students complete three to four different college applications. Do not rush through them, but rather set ample time aside for each resulting in a comprehensive, thorough application. College admissions staff can quickly tell if a student rushed through their application. Make it stand out; be consistent in formatting and content. Go above and beyond the minimal expectations by completing every required section with the maximum number of characters detailing each response. Your diligence will pay off in the long run.
Dr. Gina La Monica has a Doctorate in Education and has worked as a high school counselor, college administrator, and professor at many universities and colleges including the University of California, Los Angeles, California Lutheran University, California State University, Northridge, San Diego State University, etc. She was a tenured professor and an expert in career technical education and adult learning. She currently teaches at a local college and helps students of all ages from kindergarten to the university level with career exploration, college admissions, learning assessment, tutoring, and education plans.