The three most overlooked parts of a university application

The application essay, résumé, and letters of recommendation are all vital parts of a student’s university application, but there are three components that are equally important yet often completed quickly and without much thought.

When these are completed carefully and with attention to detail, students can turn these elements into strengths and catch a university’s eye.

1. Application form

Sometimes a university will not let students attach the rest of their application materials until they have completed the general application form. Students should not wait until the last minute to fill out this form. It might take a couple of days for the university to process the form and send students a link to attach the rest of their materials. Also, remind students to:

  • Check for grammatical errors or misspelled words.
  • Read all the fields and requirements carefully.
  • List all information accurately.
  • Keep track of the deadline and complete this section well in advance.
  • Use an appropriate email address when applying. Remind students not to include words or phrases in the email address they would not use in a classroom!
  • Write the application themselves but ask you, a parent, or a guardian for help if they need it.
  • Click “submit” after they complete the form, and watch for a confirmation email that the university received it.

2. Application fee

Some universities will require students to pay a fee after they submit their application, while others will only require it once they are accepted. Application fees can range from free to around $100 US. When students are researching schools, they should take note of the total amount in application fees and factor them into their budget. If students can only afford a certain amount, this might help them narrow their university list to fit the total cost.

Some universities offer application fee waivers when they apply for financial aid, or there might be a separate portal to request a fee waiver.

3. Transcripts

Universities will ask that the transcript be mailed or emailed to them, so read the requirements carefully. Before a student’s transcript is sent, they should read through the classes, grades, credits, and scores to make sure they’re correct.

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