College Application Resources

Applying to college for the first time can seem a bit daunting. Here are some resources and important dates to remember to help ease the burden (and hopefully increase your excitement!).

College Search

There are three main factors that have been found to influence college(s) of choice the most, and those include cost, location, and majors offered. There are several resources that can be a great help in starting to narrow down one's college list:

  • College Board Big Future: This tool has information on over 2,000 colleges in the U.S.

  • Princeton Review: This tool has information on over 1,000 colleges in the U.S.

  • American College Foundation: This tool helps to organize information in succinct steps 

  • Campus Pride Index: This tool can help LGBTQ students find an inclusive college experience


  • Early Action (EA): This is a nonbinding agreement that allows students to apply and potentially gain admission to one or more schools much earlier than regular applicants. As an EA applicant, students usually have until early November to submit application materials, including transcripts, letters of recommendation, and personal essays. EA schools normally send out decisions in December, January, or February and give admitted students until May 1 (the national response date) to formally reply to their offers. This is a good time to compare financial aid offers. Students typically have better chances of being accepted at colleges when applying EA as opposed to Regular Admission. 

  • Early Decision (ED): This is a binding agreement, meaning you can apply to only one school under this admission plan. ED normally benefits top-performing students who have identified their first-college choice. Schools that offer ED tend to be private and highly selective. 

  • Regular Decision (RD): Students who wait for RD will not know if they were accepted or rejected until much later in the school year, but are still afforded some time to compare multiple offers of admission and financial aid. This option allows for the most time to prepare applications, gather letters of recommendation, and write personal essays. 

  • Test Optional: This is a helpful video that explains what "test optional" means as it relates to college admissions.

Benefits of Applying to College Early

  1. Students receive an admission decision earlier. This can alleviate the stress of waiting for admission decisions in the spring and allows one to solidify college plans more quickly.

  2. Students finish the college application process sooner (i.e., then you can relax and enjoy senior year!)

  3. Students get a financial leg-up on the competition. While schools do not have different official financial aid policies for EA versus RD, there is a simple reality that more money is stacked in the schools' coffers in the fall than will remain by the time the RD deadline rolls around. Therefore, scholarship offers can sometimes be more generous to EA applicants than those applying under RD.

  4. Students may have a higher chance of getting accepted. Research has found that ED can raise ones chances of getting accepted into college. This is because the college knows for certain you will attend if admitted. However, if a student is in need of financial aid, EA may be the better way to go because then financial aid offers can be compared. 

Ways to Apply

There are many ways to apply for college admissions, including:

  1. The Common App: This free platform can be used to apply to over 900 colleges! Here is a helpful video on how to get started. Please remember to list Mrs. Parnell as your school counselor in the Common App (this is how your transcript, report cards, etc., get uploaded to the platform). Click here for a list of colleges that use the Common App. 

  2. MyCoalition: This website offers free college-planning tools as well as the opportunity to apply to over 150 colleges. Please remember to list Mrs. Parnell as your school counselor in MyCoalition (this is how your transcript, report cards, etc., get uploaded to the platform). 

  3. Apply directly to the college using the admission tools on their website(s). Why? Not every college participates in one of the apps listed above. For example, Louisiana Tech does not use The Common App or MyCoalition. In fact, there are not any Louisiana schools that use MyCoalition, but many neighboring states use this platform. 

Important Dates

If you plan on starting college in Fall 2022, then you will need to keep these important deadlines in mind. Please note, these deadlines apply to the majority of colleges; however, there may be some colleges that have different deadlines than what is listed below. Be sure to check with the admissions department at your college(s) of choice for any school-specific deadlines that may differ. 

  • Early Decision Application Deadline: November 1, 2021

  • Regular Decision Application Deadline: January 1, 2021

The College Essay

Here are some resources that may help you write your college essay:

Letters of Recommendation

Most colleges require at least one letter of recommendation when you apply for admissions. These letters are typically requested of teachers and/or school counselors. It is up to the student who they request these letters from (they can even be requested from former teachers). The most important thing to consider when requesting a teacher or counselor to write a letter of recommendation for you is to ask well in advance. In fact, any letters of recommendation that are requested from a Magnet school counselor require a minimum of a 10-school day notice. When requesting a letter of recommendation from Mrs. Parnell, students must complete this form as well as provide a copy of their resume. Click here for a resume template.