Step 1: Create your college profile
Begin by creating a college profile. Your college profile is an organized way to keep all of the information that colleges will need in one place. Remember the colleges only see your application, so be as thorough as possible.
Access the College Profile document.
Step 2: Begin to figure out what do you want to do
After you have developed your college profile, you need to figure out what you want to study. Ask yourself: "What kind of classes do you enjoy?" or "What kind of things do you like doing?" and research the many careers related to the field you are interested in. If you think you know what you want to do, go straight to the Occupational Outlook Handbook and CFNC Planning for College section to research careers.
Access the Career Search document.
Step 3: Researching colleges
When beginning to research colleges, students should think about several different factors:
- Academic selectivity and ranking - What are the required grades and test scores to get in?
- Program of study - Does the college have the program that you want to study?
- Location and distance from home - How far away do you want to study? Do you want to go out of state? Do you want to study in a urban, rural, or suburban environment?
- Make-up of student body - Do you want mainly students from backgrounds like yours?
- Athletic and extracurricular activities offered - Are there any activities that you want to do in college?
A good place to start is the Selectivity Chart that organizes each college in North Carolina according to the difficulty of being accepted based on GPA and ACT/SAT scores.
Access the College Search document.
Finally, it is extremely important to visit as many colleges as you can before applying. Visit big and small universities, public and private so that you can really get a feel for where you will be comfortable.
Step 4: Creating a College List
Once you have created your profile, thought about what you want to study, and researched colleges, creating a college list helps you to stay organized in the application process. With so many colleges each with their own deadlines and requirements, one of the most important parts of a successful college search becomes organization. The college list is a great tool to help you stay organized throughout the long college application process.
Access the College List document.
Step 5: College Testing
College testing is a major part of college admission process because it helps colleges compare students from across the country. The SAT and ACT are standardized tests that are designed to show whether a student is academically prepared for college.
You can register, check your scores, and send scores through the websites below:
The calendar below provides a suggested plan for when students should take each test. All students at Starmount will take the PLAN their Sophomore year and the ACT in the spring of their Junior year. However, they will need to take the initiative and sign-up to take the PSAT and SAT.
College Testing Calendar (Suggested)
Testing is important because there are minimum college entrance requirements for the 16 state universities in North Carolina.
||PLAN and PSAT
||SAT and ACT
||Retake SAT and ACT
Minimum College Entrance Requirements for Public NC Universities
- GPA: 2.5
- SAT: 800 (Critical Reading + Math)
- ACT: 17
Access the College Testing document.
Step 6: Paying for College
Financial aid, scholarships, and family contributions are the three main ways students pay for college. Families can get an estimate of how much each college will cost for them by filling out a Net Price Calculator. These calculators are available on every college website and on the CFNC College Works page.
To apply for need-based financial aid, students will need to fill out the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA). See the Paying for College page for more information.
To get an overview of strategies that can help make college affordable, see the Paying for College page.
Step 7: Applying to College (4-year)
The first thing to know is that applying to college is a process with a several steps. Completing the application is not enough. Students must complete each of the five steps for a college to consider their application complete.
- Complete the college application (online either on the college website or on CFNC).
- Pay application fee or mail in college application fee waiver.
- Send High School Transcripts (through the CFNC Transcript Manager).
- Send ACT/SAT scores (using your SAT and ACTstudent accounts).
- Send in (online or by mail) college essays and recommendations.
- Secondly, deadlines are important.
About Admission Types
- Early Admission usually happens between October 15 - November 15 with some deadlines in December.
- Early Decision applications ARE binding. That means if you get accepted, you have to attend that school.
- Early Action applications are not binding. Applying this way will increase your chances of getting into that particular school. You will also find out January or February instead of March or April.
- Rolling Admissions means that colleges just review applications as they come in.
- Most colleges have two regular decision deadlines, one in the fall semester and one in the spring semester.
Step 7: Applying to Community College
There are several steps involved for community college applications.
- Complete FAFSA to apply for financial aid (by February 28)
- Community College Application (by March 26)
- Complete the application
- Send transcripts
- Take placement test
- Register for classes
- Select payment plan (monthly payment options are available)
- Attend orientation and make payment
Access the Applying to Community Colleges document.
Step 8: The College Decision and Enrollment
The College Decision
- Take your time. You don't have to give a final answer until May 1.
- Rethink everything about each school you are considering and compare costs, academic programs, setting and student life, extracurricular opportunities, etc.
- Use the Compare Your Aid Awards tool to compare how much each university will cost you.
- Visit or revisit each school
- When it is time to make your decision, don't forget to send the following:
- Your acceptance letter
- A deposit (usually $200-$300)
- A separate acceptance letter for financial aid, if required (you will need to accept or reject the work-study and loan awards that the university offers)
- Any other required items
- Don't forget to send a brief note to the colleges whose offers you are declining.
- Once you have made your decision, there is still a list of tasks to complete.
- Read and respond to all information that you receive from the college
- Send in your tuition deposit
- Accept your financial aid offer
- Take care of loan paperwork
- Select housing and meal plan
- Send in your final transcript (CFNC should do this automatically)
- Check computer requirements
- Check out pre-orientation programs—these are a great way to make friends before the first day.
- Get a physical and prepare your medical information (including vaccination history)
- Make sure you get credit for college courses taken in high school and find out if you have to take any placement exams.
- Check out the college decision and enrollment page.