An Overview of College Application Requirements

Applying to a college can feel both exciting and intimidating. There are a lot of elements that go into an application, after all. With so many moving pieces, how do you keep track of it all? Let’s cover the basics of college application requirements.

Student applying to college on her laptop

Common College Application Requirements

There are some requirements that are common to all colleges. Keep these details and documents handy. You will need them when filling in the Common or Coalition Application.

Personal Information

This includes basic personal details such as your name, birth date, citizenship or resident status, and contact details.

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SAT / ACT Scores

In addition to providing your standardized test scores on the application form, you’ll also need to submit the official score reports. While registering for the test, you would have selected colleges to receive your scores. The College Board and the ACT will send your official score reports directly to the colleges you’ve listed. If you’ve taken any AP or SAT Subject tests, you’ll need to submit those too.

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities are also a common college application requirements. Highlight the activities you’ve participated in outside of the classroom along with how much time you spent on each. Volunteering and other community activities are all part of extracurricular activities. Include them in this section.

Official High School Transcript

This is provided by your school. It includes information about the classes you’ve taken along with your grades and credits earned. Make sure to your high school guidance counselor knows which colleges you are applying to and the deadline for each.

Letter of Recommendation

Not all colleges will ask for two recommendation letters. However, these letters can give them insight into your overall performance and potential.  Make sure you request your recommenders for a letter well in advance. Writing a solid recommendation letter takes time. If you wait till the last minute, your preferred letter writer may not be able to oblige. This could put you at a disadvantage.


If you’ve received any honors, list them in your application along with some additional details. Explain how many students competed for the honor and how many received it.

Enrichment Activities

This includes your internships, and part-time or summer jobs.


Writing the college application essays will take the most time as you have to write separate essays for each college. Each college will have their own specifications for the essay. Make sure to read through each one carefully and submit an essay that fulfills all requirements.

Keep In Mind

Besides these common college application requirements, some schools may ask for additional submissions. Read through each college’s special requirements so that you don’t overlook something that may jeopardize your application.

Additionally, if you’re curious what your acceptance odds are, check out College Raptor’s free match tool!

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