The multifaceted aspects of a First-Year Application can seem like a tangled web of what-the-fluffery. TP college writer Lucas Lam wrote this comprehensive piece about the Common App (which is only available digitally this year), but there a few more items that complete an application. Does anyone even know what a Secondary School Report is? What’s the difference between an official transcript and one I just screenshot?

TP is dedicated to making the college admission process as seamless as possible, so let’s break down all the pieces to this collegiate puzzle.

Application Materials

1. Application

Somewhat of a misnomer, because the “application” section is only a part of your entire Application. Think of it like Russian nesting dolls, within each doll lies another. There might be a lot of dolls, but they all fit perfectly together. Same goes for your college application.

Within the application is the personal essay, extracurricular record, demographic/personal information, and short answer activity questions. The application is most commonly found on, but can also be found on your institution’s website.

2. Supplement

Some institutions require a “supplement” which is basically a few extra questions and maybe another essay. These questions are geared specifically to the institution you are applying too. It can seem like a bit of a pain to fill out a supplement for multiple schools (So. Much. Work.), but in reality, it just gives them more of an opportunity to learn more about you as a person, and not just an SAT score.

3. 1-2 Teacher/Professor Evaluations

This is a letter(s) or recommendation that speaks to your character. Word of advice: don’t get teachers who teach impressive subjects (AP Biology, etc.) but don’t really know you. Sure, it’s great that you took a challenging academic course, but if the teacher doesn’t know you (or like you), that doesn’t really matter. This is another opportunity to show the institution you are applying to who you really are.

4. Secondary School Report

This is completed mainly by your college counselor. You just have to complete the easy stuff, like your name, address, and other personal information. This isn’t something you have to stress out about, because it is your counselor’s responsibility to complete. It contains information about your high school, your class rank, and an evaluation of your character. The only thing you need to be concerned about is making sure your counselor sends this in ON TIME. There’s nothing more upsetting than having your future messed up by someone else’s incompetence.

5. Official High School Transcripts

This must be sent by your high school! Official seal and all. These will include grades up through your junior year, and it might include first quarter senior grades (depending on the schools you’re applying to). You will be asked to send your final transcripts later, usually once you are accepted.

6. Test Scores

ACT or SAT scores can be sent through their respective websites. There is a fee to send scores (which is SUPER dumb, in my opinion).

7. Application Fee

Self explanatory, but most universities will not review your application if you do not pay your application fee. Check and see if you are eligible for a fee waiver! Ask your high school counselor or the institution you are applying to.

Most importantly, pay attention to deadlines! Weather it’s early decision, early action, regular decision, confitation deadline, etc. STAY ON TOP OF IT!

And remember, The Common App 2013-2014 goes is LIVE now!

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