Four-Year College
Four-Year College
Jorge Salcedo /

Attending a four-year college is the “traditional” college pathway. Understand how and when to apply, the materials you’ll need to submit as part of a complete and competitive application, and what to do once you’ve received a school’s decision. Your timeline depends on what type of student you are; a high school student’s application is going to follow a different track than a transfer student’s. Once you’ve applied (and been accepted), you still have work to do to prepare for your new experience.

The Types and Benefits of Four Year Colleges: Not only should you weigh the pros and cons of college, but you need to know the difference between types of four-year colleges before you decide to apply.

Applying Early: For your favorite college, you should know the answer to "Should I apply early action or early decision?" Learn the pros and cons of applying early here.

Timeline for High School Students: This timeline provides a detailed list of actions you can take throughout high school to ensure that you are a competitive applicant and that you submit your applications on time.

Timeline for Returning or Adult Students: As an adult student, your timeline depends on your other obligations; your to-do list is broken down by season to help guide you through the application process.

Timeline for Transfer Students: Making the decision to transfer isn’t easy, but this timeline will help keep you on track for an on-time application submission.

Understanding Application Requirements: Not all applications are the same, but they do have a few common threads: test scores, transcripts, essay questions, and recommendations, for example.

The Common, Coalition, and Universal College Applications: Each of these platforms intends to simplify the application process by keeping all your materials in one place.

Responding to Short Answer and Essay Questions: Your responses are your chance to show colleges who you really are. Tell a story that only you can tell.

Writing Your Résumé: Your résumé is the compression of your high school years onto a single page. If not required by your institution, it will help you fill out your application and provide inspiration for essays.

Asking for Letters of Recommendation: Who you ask for a letter of recommendation depends on what kind of student you are, but always ask early, provide all necessary materials, and be polite.

Acing Your College Interview: Help admissions officers put your name to your face! Don’t show up without practicing though. A good interview may tip an admissions decision in your favor.

How to Handle Being Waitlisted: Being waitlisted is disappointing, and while you can try to tip the scale in your favor with another letter of recommendation, it may be time to weigh your other college options.

Choosing an Acceptance Offer: Compare your financial aid packages, experiences on campus visits, and the resources offered by each institution to pick the right one for you.

What to Do After You’ve Accepted a College Offer: There’s still plenty to do after choosing your school: sign up for orientation, make sure your medical needs have been addressed, and sort out your housing options and class schedule.