How do I apply for college?

How do I apply for college


How do I apply for college?

To apply for college takes a lot of time and work. But it is worth the effort!

College admission requirements
To be admitted to a two-year college, four-year collge or university, you will need a high school diploma. If you did not go to high school, or if you left before graduating, you can get a high school equivalency diploma instead.  This shows you have enough education to go to college.

You can earn your high school equivalency diploma (called GED or HiSET) at community colleges, through evening classes for immigrants and refugees, or online with the RCO’s free GED preparation class.

What types of colleges are there?

Community college
Community colleges are primarily two-year public schools that focus on career skills. Students who graduate from community colleges often receive certificates or associate degrees. Community colleges can help students gain important skills to begin careers offering a living wage (this means any jobs that pay enough money for people to live without needing to work two different jobs or get help from the government). Some community colleges have programs to help students transfer to four-year colleges. Community colleges are typically cheaper than four-year colleges.

College and university
Many Americans go to a four-year college after they finish high school. A university is a college that offers not just bachelor’s (undergraduate) degrees but post-graduate degrees too (Master’s or PhD). However, in everyday speech in the United States, people often say “college” for all education that comes after high school.

Public and private
Colleges can be either private or public schools. Private colleges normally cost more money than public colleges. However, private colleges may also have more scholarship money available.

College application requirements
If you know which college you with to attend, you can look on its website for information about how to apply. Below is a list the usual application requirements, courtesy of

Anyone seeking to attend a two- or four-year college or university is required to meet the school’s admission requirements. While these can differ from school to school, the application process typically consists of submitting:

  • an online application form;
  • a letter of intent or personal statement;
  • at least one supplemental essay (the topic is typically provided by the school);
  • two or more letters of recommendation from previous teachers;
  • high school transcripts;
  • standardized test scores;
  • application fees

Step-by-step guide
You can find a more detailed step-by-step guide on the website of University Language Services: Applying to College Step by Step

Other helpful information

How can I pay for college?

Students must pay to attend college before they start classes. Here are some ways you can pay for your education:

Student loans
Some students pay for college with loans, either from the government or private loans. To apply for a loan from the government, you have to complete the FAFSA, which is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. When you apply for loans from the government, you have to repay them with interest. This means any money you borrow you have to pay back to the government, normally with extra money called interest. Private loans can sometimes have very interest rates. Before you decide to take student loans, you should talk to a school counselor or someone who can help you and make sure you understand the loans.

This is the official government website for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Students from low-income families can receive grants or scholarships to help them pay for school. Completing the FAFSA is very complicated and confusing for American families as well as refugee families.

Part-time work
Some students pay for college by going to school part-time and working part-time. Sometimes, schools will give students grants that allow them to work on campus and get paid from Federal Work Study funds. You can also find a part-time job that has flexible hours so that you can attend college. However, it can be very hard to go to college while you are working, especially if you have a family.

The Refugee Center Online has a list of Scholarships for refugees and immigrants. However, you can apply for any scholarships from your college, from local organizations, and from the state.

If you have more questions about how to apply for college, you can visit our online forums to ask for advice.

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