The Application

Applying to college involves a great deal of paperwork. It is important that students keep track of all deadlines and materials.

Student Responsibilities

The Application

Applications usually include a candidate information section, an extracurricular chart, one or more essays, and an application fee.

Applications are filed electronically. After applying online, it is important to print out and keep a copy of the college’s confirmation email.

While some colleges use their own applications, over 750 colleges and universities accept the Common Application. Students who submit through the Common Application should be sure to check if supplemental materials are also required.

A number of colleges accept the Coalition Application. Some, including the University of Maryland at College Park, only accept the Coalition Application. College Counselors will discuss the different application options during college classes, individual meetings, and during the August College Application Boot Camp.

The College Counseling office suggests that each senior have a list of five to eight schools by October. Park sets a maximum number of applications at twelve. This allows students to focus their energies, make important choices, and avoid a scattershot approach. If a student plans to apply to more than twelve schools, the student, parents, and college counselor must meet together to discuss the rationale for doing so.

College Counseling Forms

Students are responsible for completing their “My Schools” forms and notifying Wendy Stevens, the College Counseling Assistant, several weeks in advance of applying to schools. They must complete their materials for the college counseling office, according to the deadlines below.


December 1 or priorOctober 2
After December 1December 4

Official College Board and ACT Scores

Many colleges require students to submit official test reports directly from the testing agencies.  Students should check with individual colleges regarding their policies on sending scores. A growing number of colleges allow students to self-report scores. If a school is test-optional, students should only submit scores if they are above the median for that school.


Because many colleges report the average GPA of admitted students, Park students sometimes wonder what their GPA is and how it compares to reported data at particular colleges. Like many other independent schools, Park School does not report GPA’s to colleges. There are several reasons for this policy. The first is that focusing solely on the GPA erases important details, details that can be significant not only on a personal level but also in the admissions process, such as grade trends over time or across different subject areas. The second is that there is no single agreed-upon GPA formula, and so depending on which formula a high school or college uses, the outcome will differ. (Some colleges don’t count grades from ninth grade, others omit grades from arts classes, etc.) Many highly selective colleges direct their attention to the transcript rather than the GPA, and for those that do use GPA in their process, they often prefer to use their own GPA formula (rather than rely on what is reported by different high schools across the country).

Supporting Material

Students may send extra items to support their applications — photographs, essays, poems, news articles, links to music or artwork, or sports videos — even if a college does not request them.

Supporting material may highlight a student’s accomplishments and offer an admissions staff a more detailed picture of the student. Read applications/instructions carefully, though; some schools note specifically that they do not want extra materials or that they may not be returned.


Individuals will send these at your request. For more information, see Teacher Recommendations.

College Counseling Office Responsibilities

The College Counseling Office will send the following to prospective schools:

School Report and Counselor Recommendation Letter

The College Counselors will fill out the School Report form and send it with an accompanying recommendation about the student. Any significant change in a student’s coursework, qualifications, or status (whether of an academic or disciplinary nature) that occurs between the time of application and graduation will also be communicated to colleges.

High School Transcript

This includes a record of classes, grades, and attendance. If students wish, the transcript also includes AP scores, but they must sign an Information Release Form before these scores are listed. After graduation, each student’s final transcript is automatically sent to the college where they have decided to matriculate.

The Park School transcript does not list GPAs or class rank. This is clearly stated in our materials that accompany the transcript. Admissions officers know this and are familiar with our reasons for not providing this information.

Quarter Grades and Mid-Year Report

If requested by a student and/or required by a school, first quarter grades will be sent to schools on students’ behalf. A record of first semester grades is sent to all schools.

The Park School Profile

This document gives college admission offices an overview of the Park School community and curriculum.

Discipline Reporting Policy

The following statement accompanies materials sent to colleges from the Park School College Counseling Office: 
The Park School maintains high community standards and positive expectations for student behavior. When disciplinary infractions occur, Park responds within an educational framework, with the goal of fostering personal growth. At the same time, we take seriously our obligation to provide useful, accurate information to colleges. It is our policy, therefore, to report to colleges any disciplinary actions resulting in a suspension or withdrawal from school, whether they occurred before or after a student’s applying to college. We advise students to follow the same guidelines when answering questions about disciplinary incidents on their part of the application.

Parent Responsibilities

General Support

Parents can provide support by assisting students to organize their research and track deadlines. It is also useful for parents to plan and schedule any college visits and make advance arrangements for travel. Most important, parents can encourage students to take the lead in this process while offering steady emotional support. It can be tempting to want to step in and oversee this process for the student, but this experience, hiccups included, will be better preparation for college if managed by the student. If you are genuinely concerned that your child is not appropriately engaged, please contact your counselor. 

Fees, Costs, and Financial Aid

As parents well know, there are both major and minor costs associated with college. To register for tests, send scores, and submit applications, students will need a credit card number, unless the family qualifies for fee waivers. These “incidental” costs can run up to $1,000. Families who visit colleges will also incur travel costs.

The biggest costs, of course, are the tuition, room, board, and other costs that come along with attending college. We encourage parents to communicate openly with their children about the role of cost for the family. If you are applying for financial aid, it is important to carefully track financial aid deadlines and requirements and attend the meetings and workshops offered by the College Counseling Office. You should also feel free to call individual college financial aid offices with your questions.