How Long Does a College Application Take to Fill Out?

When it’s time to apply to college, how long should you take to complete your application? There is no one timetable for all applications out there, but here’s a rundown of what you need to know, what an application generally requires, and other steps you’ll need to take to complete the college application processes.


How Long Does a College Application Take to Fill Out?

The length of time a college application takes depends on the college’s requirements. Requests vary from school to school, but it generally takes about six weeks to gather everything you need. However, completing everything the application needs you to do (gathering letters of recommendation or taking the SAT/ACT, for example) can take months.

What Does an Application Usually Require?

If you’re applying to a college, it’s essential to follow their application guidelines to ensure you have all the pieces necessary. Failing to do so may result in a denied admission letter.

Usually, though, college applications require details or submitted documents including

  • Background information including name, address, and other personal details.
  • SAT or ACT scores. Test organizers will send directly to your colleges if you requested it. (Make sure you double check with each school, – some schools no longer require it).
  • Recommendation letters
  • High school transcripts
  • Parental information like their employment and educational background
  • Essay
  • Supplemental questions

Why Does It Take Months to Complete an Application?

 Although it will likely only take you a few minutes to fill out the “background information” or “parent information” sections of your application, other aspects of your paperwork and college planning will take months to complete.

Letters of recommendation, for example, can take weeks to receive after you request them from a teacher or other adult in your life. You should always ask for these as soon as possible as many teachers have little time to spare and will need a few weeks to get it back to you.

For your SAT or ACT test, study is required. Students should begin studying several months out, and the tests should be taken more than once.

Your essay also shouldn’t be written overnight. Give time to brainstorm topics and be sure you’re fitting each college’s essay requirements. You’ll want to be sure that your topic is somewhat unique to stand out among the crowd. Once your essay is finished, you should give it to a trusted adult to read over and give feedback on.

The college application process is more than simply completing a form to submit to your schools of choice. A lot of work goes into completing them, from the supplemental questions to the essay, so it’s important to start early and not simply wait until the week before January 1st to begin getting everything you need.

If you’re starting to look for colleges that fit your dreams and want to be sure you’re applying to colleges where you have a “chance,” be sure to use our College Match tool.

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