College Admissions 101

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College Admissions Basics

Students climbing steps together
Paul Bradbury/OJO Images/Getty Images

College apps season can be a stressful and emotional time for families - and yes, the paperwork is beastly - but by the time you're done reading these articles, your family will be crafting a list of 20 to 30 great college possibilities, perfectly tailored to your child's passions. Take a peek at the step-by-step process on the following pages.

Let's Get Started

It's easy to feel overwhelmed, but the college admissions process is nothing more than a series of little chunks, some of which your child is already doing anyway. Here's the basic overview of how the process works, from high school courses to SAT timing and application deadlines.

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College Admissions & the Reality Check

college admissions
A college tour at Yale. Photo by Christopher Capozziello/Getty Images

So, you and your child have assembled a preliminary list of 20 or 30 wonderful colleges. Now it's time to explore the other half of the equation: Can he get in?

  • The Reality Check: Assessing Your Child's Chances at a Specific School
  • Admissions Strategy from an Expert
  • Essential College Prep Curriculum
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College Admissions Myths & Pitfalls

Harvard. Photo by Glen Cooper, Getty Images

Colleges that send you scores of brochures are really interested in you. Applying to more schools increases your chances. Ivy League equals "successful future." Sound familiar? They're all myths. Here are some tips to help you avoid some common pitfalls and answer some common questions.

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College Admissions & the Campus Tour

college admissions
Kenyon College. Photo courtesy of Jon Stout, Stock.Xchng Photos

Your child has compiled a college admissions "possibles" list, done his research and matched his stats against those of incoming freshmen. Now it's time to visit some of those schools:

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College Admissions, Applications & Exams

(Courtesy scol22,

It's time to think about the college admissions applications themselves, and all the ancillary paperwork, including the SATs and ACTs, essays and more.

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College Admissions, Decisions & Beyond

Moving into the dorm. iStock Photo

The applications are in, the answers are rolling back and the only question is ... what now? Here's everything you need to know to take your family from happy celebration to dorm move-in day. (And if your child didn't get in anywhere, there's a suggestion for that too.)

  • Admit Day & Campus Visitations
  • Countdown to College Move-In: What to Do & When
  • Can You Break an Early Decision Agreement
  • A Parent Guide to Financial Aid
  • The Gap Year