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Applying to College

College Essay

The college essay is an important step in many college applications. This is your opportunity to share your story. The one that isn’t told in your grades and your test scores. This is your opportunity to let colleges know what makes you unique and an asset to their campus community.

There are a plethora of online resources available to help you as your begin the writing process. We highly encourage you to seek advice from your counselors and language arts teachers, as well.

Here are some tips before you get started:

Start early!  The more time you plan for, the stronger your essay will be.

Be yourself and be honest. Don’t write what you think they want to read. Write your story.

Don’t play it safe. Admissions officers read thousands of essays. If you play it safe and write what the majority of students write about, your essay (and application) will get lost. Stand out!

Write, rewrite, proofread, get a second opinion! Don’t even think about turning in your first draft (or 2nd or 3rd, for that matter). Have a trusted adult, preferably a teacher, read your essay. Make sure it is someone that will provide an honest critic.

The College Essay Guy and Khan Academy are excellent resources to help with your college essay.

Common Application

The Common Application is used for undergraduate admissions by nearly 600 colleges and universities. Only schools that evaluate applications holistically are allowed to use the common application; that is, the admissions staff must take into consideration things like letters of recommendation and the application essay. If a college bases admission solely on GPA and test scores, they can not be members of the Common Application.

The Common Application covers several areas: personal data, educational data, standardized test information, family information, academic honors, extracurricular activities, work experience, a personal essay, and criminal history.

Colorado Admissions Tool

To support helping students and families understand college and university’s admission standards, the College Admissions Tool for Colorado institutions has been developed for use by students, parents, and whoever is interested. Middle and early high school students will benefit from the exploration and planning aspects of the tool, while upperclassmen can compare their high school and extracurricular performance to college expectations to assist them in determining their competitiveness and which institutions they choose to apply. The Admission Tool is available for use at  

For out-of-state colleges and universities, please refer to the school's website for admissions information.