Application Process Tab

Target Schools

Identifying target schools or schools to apply to should be an initial priority of students. Your list of target schools should not be too long. In other words, you should not apply to every school available. Students should prioritize a list of schools which meet the specific needs of the student .For example, consider the concentrations offered, financial aid, and perhaps any special programs that aren’t widely available at other institutions. An important factor to consider while compiling your list of schools are your realistic chances of admission based on your admission credentials including GPA/standardized exam scores. lists the median GPA and standardized test score for admitted students for most schools. Certain factors may enable a student with a lower GPA/standardized exam score to still be offered admission at. Factors which may be particularly helpful include student involvement in athletics (particularly high school students), minority status (for certain minority groups), coming from a disadvantaged household, being the first in your immediate family to attend college, as well as persevering through hardship. Although not an exhaustive list, these are factors that may want to be emphasized in a student’s application file. When compiling a target school list, students should also take into consideration financial feasibility (cost of attendance) and the rank of the school. Ideally, you will want to apply to schools for which you fit their admission profile as well as higher ranking institutions (reach schools) for which your chances of admission are lower, but would be more ideal to attend. Applying to schools for which you exceed their admission profile may enable you to receive more aid including higher scholarship amounts decreasing your cost of attendance.

Application Checklist

Once you have identified the schools you would like to apply to, its is essential to compile the application requirements from each school. This information can usually be found on the Admissions section of the university’s website. It is recommended that students track this information in an Excel spreadsheet noting the school names, requirements for applications to be considered complete as well as key deadlines in the applications cycle. Students should also take note of application fees and regularly check their checklist to ensure they are meeting key deadlines.

Application Fees

Application fees will vary by institution and collectively can add up to a significant amount often deterring students from applying to multiple schools. Fee waivers are usually available for financially needy students. Additionally, institutions may also offer fee waivers based on merit. We recommend students consider all options for application fee waivers before limiting their applications to a narrow list if schools


Including recommendations in your application file provides the admission committee with a perspective on your qualifications/personality/achievements from a third party. Although, not required by some schools, recommendations which emphasize a student’s leadership, achievements, community service, or perseverance in the face of adversity can make the case for admission stronger. Recommendations may also reinforce a student’s commitment or passion for a field.


Essays can also be a differentiator in applications. Institutions, may have requisite essay topics or may allow students flexibility to choose a topic of their liking. Regardless, students should understand that essays allow you to demonstrate your writing capability as well as your ability to organize your thoughts to produce a well thought out and organized essay. Strong organization including an introduction, conclusion, and proper flow of your ideas are essential elements. Depending on the essay topic, essays may also present opportunities to sell your candidacy to the institution or address any weaknesses or gaps in your application or credentials. Students should thoroughly read the institution’s website to fully understand the college’s culture and preferred candidacy features and interweave those elements into their essays where applicable and possible. Students may also want to consider addressing gaps or weaknesses in their candidacy profile in an addendum to their application if acceptable to the institution they are applying to.