College Application Process

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A picture of a library and skylight.The Process

The college application process can be somewhat stressful for students and their families, and represents the busiest period of the year for the Guidance Office, as we process well over 1,000 requests to send supporting materials (transcripts, etc.) to colleges. In order to make the process go as smoothly as possible, parents and students should understand the procedures involved.

How it all works

  •  Spring of Junior Year: students meet with their counselors to begin learning about the college application process and learn more about how to use Naviance for college research.
  •  Early fall of Senior Year: students meet with their counselors again to discuss more specific application planning.
  •  Students use their Naviance account to organize their college applications, listing the colleges to which they plan to apply.
  •  Counselors write a recommendation for the students whose schools require this (most do).
  •  Ms. Sullivan, Guidance Dept. Registrar, prepares the student’s transcript of grades and submits it to each college on the  student’s list via Naviance. The counselor letter of recommendation, school profile, and School Report form are also  submitted via Naviance.
  •  If the student’s schools require teacher letters of recommendation, he or she should request these from teachers well in advance of any deadlines. Teachers will submit their letters electronically via Naviance. Increasingly rarely, a college or program (e.g., Art or Music programs) may require that all materials be mailed.  In this case, the student must provide stamped, addressed envelopes (addressed to the colleges) to the teacher for this.

A woman reading a book.Deadlines

Students must inform their counselors of their application plans at least 2 weeks before any deadlines. For January 1 deadlines, students must inform their counselors by December 10th. Counselors will ask students to indicate, in their Naviance account, which schools they plan to apply to.  Telephone calls or hand-written notes will not be considered adequate notice of application plans. If students give the office less than two weeks notice of deadlines, we will not guarantee that we can meet the deadline.

School Report Forms

Many colleges have a form for the guidance counselor to fill out to accompany the counselor’s letter of recommendation. This will be done through Naviance for any school that accepts electronic transmission of documents. Students applying to schools that do NOT accept electronic transmission will need to print a school report form to give to their counselor (many of these schools do not require such a form).

Test Scores

Students are responsible for having their SAT or ACT test score reports sent to their schools from the College Board or from ACT. The Guidance Office does not send score reports to colleges.

College Timetable


Counselors will meet with their Juniors to orient them to the college application process and discuss factors that can influence college choice. In these meetings, we stress the tremendous variety of colleges and the fact that the search must be an individual one. We will also focus on the Student Data Sheet, which student fill out online on their Naviance account.  This provides information to counselors about students interests and activities, and helps the counselor write the letter of recommendation that will accompany the student’s transcript for applications.

Parents and guardians are also asked to fill out an onliine Parent/Guardian Questionnaire (on Naviance at the Parent Portal) where they can give their perspective on their child’s interests, strengths and weaknesses, and college planning.  Guidance counselors will use this information as well to inform their writing of the letter of recommendation.

After scheduling courses for the senior year, counselors will again meet with Juniors to go over remaining questions about the process of looking into colleges and beginning to create a list of colleges where the student will apply.

Each year, a Junior Parents’ Night is scheduled, at which there will be time set aside for questions.  This session will feature a college admissions officer who will offer insights into how a student should approach the task of choosing a college and how the college admissions procedure is viewed from the other side of the fence. We certainly hope you can join us!


While catalogs and brochures can be of some help, visiting colleges is highly recommended. In consideration of the possible expenditure for a college education over the next five years, the time and money spent in touring colleges seems a reasonable investment. Colleges have their welcome mats out over the summer. Plan an itinerary and call ahead for tours and interviews. It is a good idea also to say “hello” to coaches if a student’s athletic prowess in any particular sport might play a part in a college’s admission decision. You might also want to include some visits to college campuses in the Spring vacation itinerary, visiting the college while in session, though we caution students to avoid formal interviews until they have a solid knowledge of their own needs and what a particular college appears to offer.

FallIn the fall of senior year, the guidance counselors will meet individually with seniors in order to share the thinking that has taken place over the summer. At that time, the counselor will help the student finalize a list of colleges to which he or she will apply.  Throughout the fall, Northampton High School will be visited by representatives from over 120 college admission offices. These information sessions aree held in small groups; students may sign up to attend sessions of colleges they are interested in . These information sessions are publicized in the school bulletin and are listed on a College Visit Calendar google calendar.  As college application deadlines arrive, the Guidance staff will begin submitting school materials to the colleges on students’ Naviance lists.

Additional Information

Students who are applying to colleges and universities that accept the Common Application should apply online. For more information on the Common Application, to apply to Common App schools, and to access all the Common App forms, please visit the Common App website.

Below are some links and readings of interest.