Burke Life
College Planning

How to Get Started


Students should meet with their college counselor and finalize their college list. Afterward you should visit the respective website for your colleges and download the application. Read the instructions carefully, and review the document to determine what is required to complete the application.

When you visit the college website, check to determine if they accept the common application, and don’t forget to verify if there is a supplement. If you have questions, contact the office of admissions or consult with your college counselor.

After reviewing the application and instructions, create a timeline for yourself that will provide you with sufficient time to complete the application, and have it reviewed by one or two individuals (i.e., parents, teachers, advisor, college counselor, etc.) prior to submission.

This is a critical component of the college selection process, and the only one that you totally control. It is therefore imperative that you commit the time, energy and focus to get it right. Solicit some assistance, and make certain that you get your application completed and submitted on time!

School Documents

The request for official school documents is another important task when applying to college. The initial step is to review your application to determine what documents are required. After identifying what your college requires, you must complete a  college request form that will indicate what to send, where and when.

The request form must be submitted to the Associate Director at least two weeks prior to the deadline. This form will allow you to request a transcript, counselor recommendation letter, secondary school report, and standardized test scores. Students are required to submit a resume to assist the college counselor with drafting the recommendation letter.

Failure to submit this form at least two weeks prior to the college deadline places you at risk of having your documents arrive late, and delaying the selection process. If you have questions, please inquire before turning in your form to ensure compliance.


Most colleges require two teacher and one counselor recommendation. You must review the instructions in each college application to ensure compliance with individual schools. 

The general rule of thumb is that you should request a college endorsement from two academic teachers. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but in most cases if you select two teachers from the core subjects, you will satisfy most college requirements.

It is best to approach your teachers as soon as possible to allow them sufficient time to compile a letter, complete a teacher evaluation form (if applicable), and submit your materials to the college counseling administrator on time.

Once a teacher has agreed to endorse your application you should inquire if they have any requirements (i.e., resume, summary highlights, etc.) of you to draft a comprehensive letter. You should provide them with a list of your colleges and the application deadline as soon as possible.

The college application is the one facet of the college transition process where the student has total control and responsibility. A student should never guess at a question or make an assumption, but rather contact the school directly if there is confusion over a set of instructions or procedure.

Finally, begin the process early, have someone that you trust review and edit your application, and always remember to send the application in early!

Financial Aid

Families seeking financial aid for college should began the process early.

Families should contact the financial aid office at colleges when you take your campus tour. During the summer leading into the senior year, students should begin the scholarship process by conducting a search on the Family Connection website. Rising seniors who complete the scholarship search profile will be provided with a tailored list of scholarships and grants.

Families seeking need-based aid should complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. This should be completed in January of the senior year and will qualify students for federal aid. The FAFSA can be accessed on line at www.fafsa.org. Students seeking private financial aid must complete the CSS Profile in October of the senior year. This document can also be accessed on line at www.collegeboard.com.

Additional questions and concerns about the financial aid process should be directed at the college counselor.
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