Section 2: College Applications
- College Application Tips
- Parts of the College Application & Steps to Applying
- The College is “Test Optional:” what does it mean?
- Paying for College Applications
- What is the Common Application?
- Useful Admission & Application Terms
- 2a: Deep Dive into the UTK application
- 2b: Personal Statements/Essays
Applying to college is stressful. You are doing something you have NEVER done before! It’s completely normal to feel uncertain, anxious, nervous, scared.
College Application Tips
Fall is the time to apply to ALL colleges. Many colleges have priority deadlines as early as November 1. The earlier you apply, the more time you will have to access the scholarship applications for the college before a deadline, or be considered for scholarships. If you are planning to attend a TCAT, you should apply in the fall so you can be on the waitlist.
Observe the “two week” rule! Don’t wait until the last minute to apply. Let’s face it, you might wait until the last minute to apply to colleges. Just remember, a last minute decision on your part doesn’t mean that all your application materials will be received by the deadline. Try to complete an application and all required documents/materials TWO WEEKS before the deadline.
Freaking out about a college essay? Hold on a minute... Not all colleges require essays as part of the application. In fact, most do not. However, a college’s scholarship application may require a personal statement or essay (these two terms are used interchangeably by colleges which is incredibly frustrating). If you are applying to a college that requires an essay, this will probably be the most time consuming part of the entire application.
Examples of Colleges Applications NOT requiring Essays/Personal Statements:
Austin Peay State University
East Tennessee State University
Lincoln Memorial University
Middle Tennessee State University
Pellissippi State Community College
Roane State Community College
Tennessee College of Applied Technology
Tennessee State University
Tennessee Technological University
Tennessee Wesleyan University
Tennessee Wesleyan University
University of Memphis
University of Tennessee Chattanooga
University of Tennessee Martin
Walters State Community College
You can (and should) apply to more than one college. If you are planning on attending TCAT Knoxville- there is usually a waiting list, so apply to another TCAT (Harriman or Loudon County!). If you are planning on attending community college, consider applying to both Pellissippi and Roane State. If you are determined to attend UTK, apply to 2-3 other colleges as well just in case!
Accepted to a college? That doesn’t mean you have to go there. You make the decision with your family after you have reviewed your financial aid and understand the cost of attendance (COA). This means you may not decide until close to May 1 or your senior year, which is considered National Decision Day.
Check your emails! There are many ways to hear about an admission decision from a college. Some colleges will mail you a letter, some will email you, some will send an email/notice through the application portal.
At some point, you’ll have questions, and are probably going to have to email your admissions counselor. Always include your name (first and last) in your email.
Adulting 101: You may have to call the college’s help desk if you have trouble accessing your account. They receive calls all day long, and have staff dedicated to answering questions. There are no stupid questions!
For MOST colleges, if you plan to “take a class or two at community college” the summer before you enroll in a 4 year university, you will no longer be considered a freshman, and will lose any freshman scholarships. It is YOUR responsibility to check with the college you are planning to attend to determine if this will affect your freshman standing.
Parts of the College Application & Steps to Applying
Admission Process- most are Online Applications
Paper applications are a thing of the past. Most colleges have a link to the college application on their school website. Here are some common steps to applying:
- Go to the college’s website,
- Locate and click on one of the following:
- Admissions (You are applying as a freshman, even if you have taken dual credit courses).
- Apply here/future students
- Create an account. Use an email address that is NOT your Knox County School email.
- You will create a Login ID for your application (username and a password or PIN). Write them down. DO NOT use your social security number as your login ID.
- For many colleges, once you are accepted, you will have to create a NEW username and password/PIN to access your admissions account. DO NOT use your social security number!
- Once you finish and submit the application, log into your SCOIR account and move the school to the Applied column to trigger a transcript request.
You are going to have to provide a lot of information on the college application when you apply!
Here’s a list of information to gather before you complete a college application:
Full name (first, middle last) no nicknames
PO Box (if you have one)
City, State, Zip Code
Home Phone Number
Mobile (Cell) Phone Number
Email address (not high school email)
Social Security Number
Driver’s License and Date Issued
Date of Birth
School Information: FHS CEEB code is 430-435
Name of Current High School
Farragut High School
Street Address, City, State, Zip Code
11237 Kingston Pike
Farragut, TN 37934
Expected Graduation Date
May, 2023 (if you need a day, use the 15th)
Colleges Attended/College Credits earned (list any colleges from which you expect to receive credit for dual enrollment)
Course Name/Number of Credits
Course Name/Number of Credits
Testing (ACT): You may need to self report your ACT scores on your college application.
Date 1 (Month/Year) _________ and Composite Score ________
Immunization record (you will need to know if you are up to date on your immunizations- talk to your parents about this). You won’t need this for your college application, but the college will require it when you enroll (get a copy from the Health Department or your doctor’s office).
Activities & Achievements (Note: you should have an updated list in your SCOIR account, see section 1, “Staying on Track”)
Family Information and Other Personal Information
Student’s Status: __US Citizen __Permanent US Resident ___Refugee ___Asylee ___ DACA
State of Residence: _______
Have either of your parent’s earned a bachelor’s degree or higher? ___ yes ___ no
Are your parents affiliated with the US military? ___ yes ___ no
Paying for college applications…
When it comes time to apply to colleges, some colleges and universities charge a $25- $50 application fee. Many (community colleges, TCATs, several 4 year colleges) do NOT charge an application fee.
If you are unable to pay the required fee, talk to the college’s admissions office (they may have a free application week, or if you attend a virtual or in person session they may waive the fee), or talk to Ms. King (College/Career Counselor) and ask about fee waivers.
What is the Common Application (“Common App”)?
Common App https://www.commonapp.org/explore/ is a non-profit college access organization that helps students apply to college every year; more than 900 colleges use the Common App.
With the Common App you only need to use one system to apply to multiple colleges and universities (some colleges also use an application called the Coalition App https://www.coalitionforcollegeaccess.org/). You only have to fill out the common questions one time.
- Many selective colleges only use the Common Application.
- Some colleges don’t use the Common Application.
- Some colleges use BOTH the common application and their college website.
- Do your research.
Examples of colleges that use the Common Application:
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
- University of Tennessee at Knoxville
One drawback to using the Common App is that there might be questions you’ll answer that are not required through the college’s website application.
When to NOT use the Common App and apply using the college’s website application:
- MTSU is a “common app” school, but you can also finish the application much more quickly through MTSU’s website application.
- UTK is a “common app” school, but you have to create a GO VOLS! account on UT’s website account regardless of whether or not you use the GO VOLS! account or the Common App
- If you are applying to UT Knoxville, Ms. King recommends you use the UTK GO VOLS! application and NOT the Common Application.
NOTE: If you are applying to a college using the Common App, you will most likely be required to write an essay (and the Common App has several universal essay prompts (see Section 2A)
Useful Admission and Application Terms
Admission Tests: Also known as college entrance exams, these are tests designed to measure students’ skills and help colleges evaluate how ready students are for college-level work. The ACT and the SAT are two standardized admission tests used in the United States. The word "standardized" means that the test measures the same thing in the same way for everyone who takes it.
Articulation Agreement: An agreement between two-year and four-year colleges that makes it easier to transfer credits between them. It spells out which courses count for degree credit and the grades you need to earn to get credit. In Tennessee, look at the www.tntransferpathway.org for a complete list of articulation agreements between two-year and four-year colleges.
Bridge Program: Designed to ease the transition to college and support postsecondary success by providing students with the academic skills and social resources needed to succeed in a college environment. These programs occur in the summer “bridge” period between high school and college or may be a “bridge” program at community college.
Candidates Reply Date Agreement (CRDA): An agreement many colleges follow that gives applicants until May 1 to accept or decline offers of admission. This agreement gives students time to get responses from most of the colleges they have applied to before deciding on one.
Class Rank: A measurement of how your academic achievement compares with that of other students in your grade. This number is usually determined by using a weighted GPA that takes into account both your grades and the difficulty of the courses you’ve taken. Knox County School’s board policy does not rank students. As a result, we only report decile.
Coalition Application: A standard application form accepted by members of the Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. You can use this application to apply to any of the more than 90 colleges and universities that are members of the Coalition.
College Application Essay: An essay that a college requires students to write and submit as part of their application. Some colleges offer applicants specific questions to answer, while others simply ask applicants to write about themselves. Colleges may refer to this as a “personal statement.”
College Credit: What you get when you successfully complete a college-level course. You need a certain number of credits to graduate with a degree. An Associates degree usually requires completion of 60 hours (typically 20 college classes, 3 credit hours each). A Bachelor's degree usually requires 120 hours (20 more college classes, 3 credit hours each).
Common Application: A standard application form accepted by all colleges that are members of the Common Application association. You can fill out this application once and submit it to any one — or several — of the nearly 700 colleges that accept it. NOTE: Please see separate note about using the Common Application. If a college uses both the common application and their own website college application, Mrs. Graham recommends using the website college application portal.
Decile: A decile system is one in which one (1) is the highest or top 10 percent while 10 is the lowest. For example, if a student is in the second decile, then the student GPA is in the top 20 percent of the class.
Deferred Admission: Permission from a college that has accepted you to postpone enrolling in the college. The postponement is usually for up to one year.
Early Action (EA): An option to submit your applications before the regular deadlines. When you apply early action, you get admission decisions from colleges earlier than usual. Early action plans are not binding, which means that you do not have to enroll in a college if you are accepted early action. Some colleges have an early action option called EA II, which has a later application deadline than their regular EA plan.
Early Decision (ED): An option to submit an application to your first-choice college before the regular deadline. When you apply early decision, you get an admission decision earlier than usual. Early decision plans are binding. You agree to enroll in the college immediately if admitted and offered a financial aid package that meets your needs. Some colleges have an early decision option called ED II, which has a later application deadline than their regular ED plan. You, your parents, and your school counselor must all sign the Early Decision agreement prior to submitting your college application.
Fee Waiver: Generally given to students who demonstrate financial need. However, some schools will allow any student to avoid paying the application fee if they meet certain requirements, such as making an official on-campus visit or applying during free-application week. Students can expect a fee waiver if they receive government assistance based on their participation in programs for low-income families. Additionally, some schools do not charge a fee to apply.
Financial Aid: Money given or loaned to you to help pay for college. Financial aid can come from federal and state governments, colleges, and private organizations.
Freshman: Students in their first year of college. When you apply to a 4 year college, you are usually directed to the Freshman application on the college’s website.
Grade Point Average (GPA): A number that shows overall academic performance. It’s computed by assigning a point value to each grade you earn. See also Weighted Grade Point Average.
Graduate Student: A student who has a bachelor’s degree and is studying at a more advanced level.
Legacy Applicant: A college applicant with a relative (usually a parent or grandparent) who graduated from that college. Some colleges (usually private) give preference to legacy applicants (also called “legacies”).
Need-Blind Admission: A policy of making admission decisions without considering the financial circumstances of applicants. Colleges that use this policy may not offer enough financial aid to meet a student’s full need.
Official Transcript: The official record of your high school coursework sent directly to a college to which you are applying. Your high school transcript is usually required for college admission and for some financial aid packages.
Open Admission: A policy of accepting any high school graduate, no matter what his or her grades are, until all spaces in the incoming class are filled. Almost all two-year community colleges have an open-admission policy. However, a college with a general open-admission policy may have admission requirements for certain programs.
Placement Tests: Tests that measure the academic skills needed for college-level work. They cover reading, writing, math and sometimes other subjects. Placement test results help determine what courses you are ready for and whether you would benefit from remedial classes.
Postsecondary: The education level that follows secondary (high school) education: technical or trade school, community college, 4 year college or university
Priority Date or Deadline: The date by which your application — whether it’s for college admission, student housing or financial aid — must be received to be given the strongest consideration.
Registrar: The college official who registers students. The registrar may also be responsible for keeping permanent records and maintaining your student file.
Rolling Admission: An admission policy of considering each application as soon as all required information (such as high school records and test scores) has been received, rather than setting an application deadline and reviewing applications in a batch. Colleges that use a rolling admission policy usually notify applicants of admission decisions quickly.
SAT: The College Board’s standardized college admission test. It features three main sections: math, reading and writing, which includes a written essay.
SAT Subject Tests: Hour-long, content-based college admission tests that allow you to showcase achievement in specific subject areas: English, history, math, science and languages. Some colleges use Subject Tests to place students into the appropriate courses as well as in admission decisions. Based on your performance on the test(s), you could potentially fulfill basic requirements or earn credit for introductory-level courses. Most colleges do not require SAT subject tests.
Sophomore Standing: The status of a second-year student. A college may grant sophomore standing to an incoming freshman if he or she has earned college credits through courses, exams or other programs.
Self Reported Academic Record (SRAR): In the application, a student lists the courses and associated grades that have been attempted, or will be attempted, for high school college credit. It replaces the high school transcripts used by the Office of Admissions during the initial admissions process in most cases. Later on in the application process, the student will have to send a transcript.
Transfer Student: A student who enrolls in a college after having attended another college.
Undergraduate: A college student who is working toward an associate or a bachelor's degree.
Unofficial Transcript: The listing of your coursework at a high school that can be accessed and given to you, the high school student for your records. You can access your unofficial transcript in your ASPEN account.
Waiting List: The list of applicants who may be admitted to a college if space becomes available. Colleges wait to hear if all the students they accepted decide to attend. If students don’t enroll and there are empty spots, a college may fill them with students who are on the waiting list.
Weighted Grade Point Average (GPA): A grade point average that’s calculated using a system that assigns a higher point value to grades in more-difficult classes. For example, some high schools assign the value of 5.0 (instead of the standard 4.0) for an A earned in an AP class.