Columnists provide checklist for seniors participating in the college application process.


With the Common App open for submission and school back in session, college application season has begun. The coronavirus impacted college admissions in multiple ways, from how competitive they have become to their standardized testing policies. Last college admissions season saw an influx of applications, which greatly decreased colleges’ acceptance rates. Many colleges are also remaining test-optional for this admissions season due to the impact COVID-19 had on the two last school years.

However, make sure to research a specific college’s SAT and ACT policy, since many have specific requirements such as a questionnaire or additional essay. Colleges will also be flexible about other factors impacted by the coronavirus and school closures, such as pass/fail grades and limited extracurriculars and athletics. The Common App will still retain its COVID-19 question from 2020, but will now have one regarding gratitude; “Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?” In addition to the COVID-19 prompt and the recent gratitude question, the Common App has kept the same prompts from last year regarding failure, passion, and challenging beliefs.

This checklist is a simplified guide to college applications; be sure to check out the College Center’s checklist for more information.

Finding Colleges

When looking into colleges consider the location, programs offered, size and your individual interests. Tours, even virtual, can be extremely useful for finding the college that is right for you. Take advantage of college fairs and talk with visiting college representatives.

Common App

All seniors should have an account on the Common App website. This website can be used to submit the majority of your college applications. There are various questions to answer for your profile under the Common App tab and questions to answer for your individual colleges.


Most colleges require a personal essay to apply; you can find the prompts for this essay on the Common App website. Some colleges’ applications also include optional or required supplemental essays.

Recommendation Letters

Do not forget to ask your teachers early in the year if they are willing to write you a letter of recommendation. Once your teachers agree, request the letter in Naviance. There is also an optional “other recommender” category in the Common App for recommendations from non-UAHS teachers.


Seniors, do not forget to prepare if you are registered for the Sept. 11 ACT. Juniors, the College Center recommends you begin taking the ACT and SAT in December.

For more detailed information visit the College Center—located in the second floor Learning Center to the left of the entrance—or the College Center page on the UAHS website. Any student can schedule a meeting with College and Career Counselor Dr. Kathy Moore by emailing College Center Secretary Beth Redman at or Meetings are reserved for seniors until the second semester.