Applying to College FAQ
Need some help with the college application process? Have a question that you need to be answered now? We're here to help. If you still have questions after reading through the FAQ please contact us.
Before You Apply
Colleges have different types of application deadlines, but you'll need to wait until your senior year if you are in high school. Here are four common types of deadlines:
- Rolling Admission: this common type of admission allows you to apply at any time up until a certain date (for example, until July 1). Under rolling admission, the application remains open and students are admitted as long as there is space available.
- Regular Decision: you'll submit your application by a certain date, and then you'll hear about your admission a number of weeks later. For instance, a college might have a deadline in October with the promise that you'll hear from them in December, and then another deadline in January where you'll hear from them in March.
- Early Decision: some colleges have a deadline typically in the fall where you agree to attend that college if you are accepted.
- Early Action: this is similar to Early Decision, but it's not binding. The deadline is early in the fall, and it allows you to learn soon about your admission, but you don't have to commit to attend.
Visit the college website to learn about their admission deadlines and take a look at this summary of deadlines from CFNC: NC College Admissions Deadlines
Many experts recommend that you apply to 3-5 colleges, and that you think of them in 3 categories:
- Safety: colleges that fit your personal preferences, and where your academic qualifications (GPA and test scores) are higher than the average first-year student. These are colleges where you are reasonably certain you'll being accepted for admission.
- Target: colleges that fit your personal preferences, and where your academic qualifications are similar to the average first-year student. These are colleges where you think you have a good opportunity of being accepted for admission.
- Reach: colleges that fit your personal preferences, and where your academic qualifications are lower than the average first-year student. These are colleges where you are less likely to be accepted for admission, but you're really interested in attending if given the opportunity.
Application fees vary from free to around $75. Some colleges will waive the fee if you visit campus or if you apply during certain times of the year, such as College Application Week during NC Countdown to College.
North Carolina has an annual campaign each October to support college access called NC Countdown to College. During this campaign, there is College Application Week where many NC colleges and universities waive their application fees.
It varies widely since some colleges admission policies are open-door (accepting most high school graduates) and others are highly competitive. For an overview, begin with the College Entrance Requirements section of CFNC.org, and then find more details on the admissions site for each college you are interested in. You'll want to keep in mind that admission to the college and admission to a program can be different. For instance, some open-door colleges have highly competitive admissions for some programs like nursing.
According to a recent survey by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, here are the top 10 factors colleges said had considerable importance in admitting students:
- Grades in college prep courses
- Strength of curriculum (courses)
- Admission test scores (such as SAT and ACT)
- Grades in all courses
- Essay or writing sample
- Student’s demonstrated interest
- Counselor recommendation
- Class rank
- Teacher recommendation
- Extracurricular activities
Colleges are eager to provide you with more information about their institution. You can use the College Search to filter colleges based on your priorities and find links to campus websites.
When you visit the college website, provide them with your contact information so they can keep you informed. You'll especially want to read information about their academic programs and the courses you'll be required to take in your major. Best of all, plan a campus visit so you can see the facilities, and talk to faculty, admissions staff, and students.
International students should check with each college since requirements vary, but two common requirements that are different from US students are a) proof of financial support, and b) proof of English proficiency (often demonstrated with TOEFL exam scores).
Application & Transcript Process
The admissions website for each college is a great place to start. The admissions office will provide a link to their preferred online application(s). If you are going to a North Carolina college and your college lists CFNC.org as an option, that's a helpful choice since the CFNC Application Hub allows you to track all your online applications and transcripts in a single place. Over 90 NC colleges use the CFNC online application and all 110 accept the CFNC electronic HS transcript.
You should contact the admissions office of the college to determine if there is a possibility of late acceptance, or if there is a later deadline for which you may apply.
You can use the CFNC Application Hub to:
- Start an application
- Resume an application
- View a completed application
- Work on any tasks associated with an application
- Request an electronic NC high school transcript (free)
- View the status of your NC high school transcript requests
- View an unofficial copy of your NC high school transcript after sending
- Select the button immediately to the right of the “Start an Application” paragraph. A window will appear which contains a list of all colleges whose applications are available. You may enter an appropriate term to search for your desired college, or you may directly navigate the list.
- Once you have found the college, select the application you want to start from the drop-down list to the right of the campus name.
- Once you have selected the application for the college, click the “Apply” button immediately to the right of the selected application name.
- Navigate down the Application Hub page until you see the campus associated with your desired application. The Application Hub will display a list of campuses for which you have started and/or completed an application.
- Click the down arrow symbol to the left of the application name to expand the associated section.
- In the “Task” column, find the task called “Application”.
- In the same row as this task, click the “Resume” button in the “Action” column.
Each college can specify any number of tasks to be associated with an application. The college may have provided brief instructions for any given task, and if instructions are available, a help icon will appear to the right of the “Action” column for that task. For more information on a task, please contact the college directly.
- Navigate down the Application Hub page until you see the college associated with your desired application. The Application Hub will display a list of colleges for which you have started and/or completed an application.
- Click the “Remove” trash can icon directly to the right of the application name.
No, submitted applications cannot be removed.
The progress bar percentage is calculated based on the completion of each task assigned by individual colleges as it relates to all tasks needed when applying to college (at that particular time). The current transcript counts as being complete – the progress bar does not use the final transcript that gets automatically released in June in the calculation of progress.
Progress Bar Examples:
- If a college has 2 tasks - 1 for the application and 1 for transcripts:
- If the application has been submitted and the current transcript has been sent successfully, then the progress bar will be at 100%
- If the application has been submitted, but the transcript (current) has not been sent, the progress bar will be 50%
- If the application has not been submitted, but the transcript (current) has been sent successfully, the progress bar will be 50%
CFNC and the NC Department of Public Instruction collaborate so that NC public high school students at participating high schools can send an unlimited number of free electronic high school transcripts to 110 NC colleges and universities. You can use this transcript system even if you did not use CFNC to submit your application.
There are two ways to send your electronic NC high school transcript to an NC college/university:
- When submitting an online admission application, you can use the checkbox on the submission page, or
- Directly from the Application Hub. When choosing this option, you'll verify some basic information and then select up to 5 colleges and applications (e.g. Fall 2022 Undergraduate Application) to send your transcripts to at a time. There is no maximum, but you can only choose 5 at a time.
Yes, if you are enrolled at or graduated after 2006 from a participating North Carolina public high school, you can send your official high school transcript electronically to any of the 110 participating North Carolina colleges regardless of whether you applied using a CFNC.org application. Just go to the Application Hub to get started.
Yes, if you graduated after 2006 from a participating North Carolina public high school, you can send your free official high school transcript electronically to any of the 110 participating North Carolina colleges.
If you are:
- A currently enrolled high school student: the successful completion of your current high school transcript will mark the task as complete.
- Not a currently enrolled student: the successful completion of your final high school transcript will consider the task as complete.
To view any previously submitted high school transcripts to an institution, you will need to start an application within the Application Hub. Once you have started an application, return to the Application Hub and beside the transcript task, select the “View Activity” button.
The "Cancel Request" button allows you to cancel any final electronic transcript requests that are in a Pending status. If you are not planning to attend this college or university and you no longer wish to have your electronic high school transcript sent to them, you may cancel the request and your final electronic transcript will not automatically be sent to the campus. If you cancel and need to send a final e-transcript at a later time, you may make another request from the Application Hub. You may cancel final pending requests up to 2 days within the date it is scheduled to be released at the end of the school year.
If you've already submitted an application through the Application Hub, you can't make edits. You'll need to contact the admissions office so they can help you make corrections.
After You Apply
How soon you will hear about your application varies from college to college. Typically, the college will notify you within a few days or weeks that your application has been received and is being processed. If the college was unable to process your application, you will be notified as soon as possible with details of other information that is needed for an admission decision to be made.
Each college has its own timeline for notifying students of admission. Some campuses begin notifying applicants of an admission decision soon after you apply. Other colleges hold their decisions and notify students at the same time. It is not uncommon for there to be a several month period before colleges send admission decisions.
If you used the CFNC Application Hub to send your initial electronic high school transcript to the college, the system will automatically send your final transcript after you graduate. If you no longer plan to attend a college, you can cancel the final transcript using the Application Hub.
The most important thing to remember is that there are many colleges where you can enroll and be successful. In the end, it's what you decide to make of college that matters most. It's often helpful to choose several colleges to apply to (including a safe choice) that you know are a good match for you. If you find yourself in the spring of your senior year without having been accepted, talk to your school counselor and try the College Redirection Tool on CFNC.org (open April 1 - August 30) for assistance with getting matched to a great college option.
Some colleges require you to inform them of your plans to attend and in some cases confirm your plans with an enrollment confirmation deposit that is often several hundred dollars. Other colleges do not require an "intent to register" deposit. Be sure to check carefully your admission letter to see if an intent is required, with or without a fee, and be sure to observe the deadlines. If the campus of your choice does not require an intent to register, it is still important to observe any conditions it may specify in its admissions packet.