The Complete Guide to the College Admissions Process 

You’ve spent the last few years of high school studying hard, participating in extracurricular activities, narrowing down your college list, visiting campuses and preparing for the next four years of college. Now, it’s time to start filling out college applications. But where do you begin?  Many students worry about how to get into college before they even get started. We’re here to offer some college admissions assistance by breaking the process down into a few easy steps.  

Where Do I Fill Out a College Application?     

You have a few options for applying:  

  • Common App: Note which colleges use the Common App, an application that more than 1,000 colleges accept. You can fill out the Common App once and then send it to multiple colleges. Some colleges do require supplemental questions or essays, so be sure you personalize each one.  
  • Coalition: The Coalition App is a newer application accepted by about 170 colleges and universities.  
  • School-specific apps: Some colleges have their own specific application or university system-specific applications, like the University of California schools.  

Gordon College accepts both the Common Application and has its own application. Either way, it’s easy to start an application and apply

What Are the Components of the College Application Process?  

  • Personal information: You’ll be asked to provide basic information about yourself, your school and your family. The application may include an essay; you can prepare by researching examples of college essays or working with your teachers and school counselor.  
  • Application fee: Many colleges require an application fee that typically ranges from $50-100. You can confirm exact fee amounts by searching college websites.   
  • Transcript: The transcript is a record of the classes you’ve taken and the grades you’ve earned, and it will be used to evaluate your readiness for college. Typically, your transcript is sent directly from your high school. Make sure to tell your school counselor where you’re applying and what the college admissions dates are for each school.   
  • Letters of recommendation: Some colleges will ask for letters of recommendation, typically from a teacher or your school counselor. Recommenders should know you well, not only in the classroom, but also be able to speak to your personal qualities and character. Pro tip: give your recommenders a resume or activity sheet so they are up to date on all your accomplishments! 
  • Test scores: For many colleges and universities, including Gordon, the submission of standardized test scores (such as the SAT or ACT) is optional. Make sure to note which schools require standardized test scores and how they want to receive them.  
  • Interview: Not all colleges require an interview. If available, an optional interview can be a great way to highlight your personal qualities. Research college admissions interview questions ahead of time so you are well prepared.   
  • Resume/extracurricular activities: Colleges like to see well-rounded students who participate in activities outside of the classroom. There is space on the application to list activities, but if you have more to add, you might want to upload a resume.  

At Gordon we’ve made the application process as easy as possible. You’ll notice that an application fee, letters of recommendation, an interview or test scores aren’t listed in our application steps—some of the many perks of applying to Gordon! Still have questions? Check out Gordon’s Admissions FAQ.  

When Are the Different Types of College Application Deadlines? 

  • Early Decision: Early Decision means that if you are accepted to the college it is binding, and you must enroll. These deadlines are typically in November, and students usually hear an admissions decision by December. 
  • Early Action: By applying under Early Action you’ll hear back earlier, but your acceptance is not binding meaning you can keep your options open until you’re ready to make a college decision. These deadlines also tend to be in November or December, but some schools have slightly earlier or later deadlines. 
  • Regular Decision: Regular Decision deadlines typically range from January through March. You will generally hear back in mid-March to early April. 
  • Rolling: Rolling admissions means that colleges will evaluate completed applications as they receive them and will release decisions on an ongoing basis.  

Gordon offers early decision, early action and regular decision. With any option you’ll hear an admissions decision from us within two weeks of completing your application! Keep in mind that there are certain deadlines for honors consideration, music auditions and other specific opportunities, so be sure to give yourself enough time to plan.   

Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out for College Admissions Assistance 

We hope outlining some of the college admissions dates will make the application process a bit smoother for you! Make sure to utilize your school counselor or reach out to college admissions offices to keep yourself organized during the application process. Gordon’s application and the Common Application for fall 2025 will open in August. Take the next step and apply today