APPLY TO COLLEGE | Step 1: Research College Options

narrow the searchNarrow down the college search

Questions to consider:

  • Would you like to stay in state or go to college someplace farther away? What do you plan to study? Would you be getting a 2-year (Associate’s) or 4-year (Bachelor’s) degree?
  • Would you like to go to a large or small school?
  • Would you live on or off campus? What kind of student life are you looking for in a college?

 Review planning resources

The Delaware Higher Education Office Scholarship Compendium provides comprehensive resources on college planning, financial aid, and scholarship opportunities.  Studentaid.gov is another great resource for paying for college.

Visit prospective colleges

  • Tour college campuses on weekends, breaks, or over the summer if possible. Sitting in on a college class, taking a guided tour, attending the information sessions, and asking questions of real college students can be very informative.
  • See if colleges offer overnight visits for potential students. These can be very informative and help students decide if a college would be a good match for them.

Keep applications organized

  • Students who apply to 4 or more colleges have a 90% rate of actually enrolling in a college. Applying to multiple schools will provide options for students, allowing for the best choice to be made among financial aid packages and programs of study.
  • Prepare for college applications by keeping a list of the schools to which you are applying.
  • Keep a checklist for each school with the deadlines and components of the application (application, essays, transcripts, supplemental documents, test scores, application fee, recommendation letters) and check off when each is sent to colleges.
  • Verify that your counselor has sent high school transcripts, test scores, and requested recommendation letters.
  • Make sure that application fees are paid or fee waivers submitted if necessary.
  • Keep folders for each application with copies of all materials.
  • Review the BigFuture College Application Checklist. This can make the application process less overwhelming.

Help prep and register for SAT or ACT

  • Register for tests (the SAT or ACT) and make sure they send scores directly to colleges. In Delaware, all juniors take the SAT in the spring, paid for by the state. Students may choose to take the test again to improve their scores and would need to register for additional test dates. Fee waivers are available to cover registration fees if you meet the eligibility requirements – your counselor can help with this.
    • Free study guides and materials are available for the SAT. See the Official SAT Practice at the Khan Academy website.
  • Make sure you get plenty of rest before the test, arrive on time and have everything you need on test day (number 2 pencils, eraser, calculator, photo identification).

Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

  • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) in order to receive federal student aid. The FAFSA is available January 1 of your senior year. It’s best to complete it by early March to maximize your access to financial aid for college.
  • Check out our Financial Aid section for information on paying for college and available assistance such as grants, scholarships, and loans.