College Application FAQ


Completing a college application and have a question? Find answers to frequently asked questions here! Topics are listed in the order they are most likely to appear on applications.


  • What are my entering term and year?

    If you will start college the fall after high school graduation, choose the "Fall" option that includes your high school class year. If you will take summer school classes, choose the summer option.
  • What is my entrance status?

    Choose the status that fits you best.
    Freshman: Choose this if this will be the first college or university you attend after graduating high school or earning your GED. (This is not the same as your class standing. If you have earned college credit in high school, your class standing could be sophomore or above, but your entrance status is still "Freshman.")
     Transfer: Choose this only if you have attended another college or earned college credit after graduating from high school or earning your GED.
    Non Degree: Choose this if you want to take classes at the college, but you aren't planning to earn a certificate or degree.
  • What is my desired major?

    What do you want to study in college? If you have one or two top choices, select those. It's okay to change your mind while you're in college. If you have a lot of interests or aren't sure what you want to study, that's okay too! Choose "Undecided."


  • I never go by my full name. Can I just use my nickname?

    No. You need to provide your full legal name, including your middle name, on your college applications. This helps admissions staff match up all the different pieces of your application. If you have ever legally used another name (for example, you have changed your last name through adoption), include that as well. If you have a different name that you like to be called, put that in the section for "preferred name or a nickname."
  • Why do colleges want my Social Security Number (SSN)?

    This helps colleges match your application to your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), so they can be sure they're offering you all the financial aid available to you. Now is a great time to memorize your SSN or save it in a secure place like the It's A Plan app.
  • What if I don't have a SSN?

    If you are eligible to have a SSN but don't have one, now is a good time to get one. If you are not eligible to have a SSN, you can leave this section blank.
  • Why do colleges want my SSID?

    This helps colleges match your application to your high school transcript.


  • Can I list a Post Office Box?

    Yes! You can list a PO Box if that's where you receive your mail. You also need to provide a physical address as your permanent mailing address. If they ask the date it became your permanent mailing address, provide the month and year you moved there (if you've lived there your whole life, give them your birthdate!)
  • What if I am homeless?

    If you do not currently live somewhere you can receive mail, ask your school counselor or a teacher what they recommend for students at your school. Some options include a family member or friend whose address doesn't change frequently, the school, or your church, synagogue, or mosque.


  • What classes should I list for current college courses in progress or planned, including the term (to be) taken, course subject and number (example: BIO 101), credit hours, and college/university?

    You should list any courses you have taken at a college, either on campus or online. You should also list dual credit classes you have taken in high school. Do not list your AP or IB courses in this section. (But do include them if you are asked for a list of all your 12th grade classes in a different part of the application form.)


  • Am I required to answer the question about citizenship?

    Some online applications will require it in order for you to move on. For some colleges, this is how they know if you are applying as a US citizen or permanent resident or if you are applying as an international student. They might also use it to help determine what financial aid or scholarships you are eligible for, so you may want to answer the question even if it isn't required.

    If you are not a US citizen but are a permanent resident and have a green card, you will be required to provide proof. Some colleges ask for the number on your card. Other colleges ask for a copy of the card. Make sure you have a copy of this card when you are applying to colleges.
  • What if I am undocumented?

    You can still apply to college! In fact, you may be eligible for in-state tuition at Oregon public universities, for the Oregon Promise Grant for public community colleges, and for the Oregon Opportunity Grant. Learn more.

    If you are applying to a private college or university, you should contact them to ask whether you should apply as an international student or as a domestic student. Ask them if they have any special instructions or tips for completing the application form as an undocumented student. When you make this call, ask if there is someone in the office who is responsible for working with underrepresented students. If there is not, ask to speak with the person who will be reading your application – that’s the person who is responsible for reading applications from your area of the state. You do not need to provide your name when you make this call since you are simply gathering information.


  • What family information am I required to submit?

    Colleges won't all require the same information. Obviously, if the application form requires a response to move on, you'll need to answer it. You might want to answer some of the optional questions if you understand why they are asking them:

    Contact information for parent(s) or guardian(s) is important in case of an emergency. Sometimes colleges also want to inform families about things happening on campus.

    Some applications ask about your parents' educational and work history. If you live with a guardian, answer these questions about your parents, if possible. Many colleges offer special programs for first-generation or low-income students, and this question helps them know if you are eligible for those programs.

    Colleges ask if any relatives - including parents, grandparents, brothers, and sisters – have attended the college because they want to know about any connections you might have. They usually ask for the alum's full name and graduation year so they can match you to the right person.
  • What if I am a foster youth or no longer live with my parents?

    Colleges want to make the best admission decision they can for you. Applications are their way of getting the information they need to do that. They also use the information to help connect you to resources on campus. So, you should answer questions as fully and honestly as you feel comfortable. You can list your biological parents or your current guardians. If you have other details you want to share that don't fit in the family section, you can use the "additional information" section.


  • Do I have to list all my activities and interests for each college application?

    Colleges are more interested in quality than quantity. List the activities that are most important to you, that you did for a long time and ones where you earned awards or were a leader.
  • Do I have to provide all of my SAT or ACT test scores?

    No. Some colleges and universities don't require you to submit SAT or ACT scores at all. Community colleges don't require them. And many 4-year colleges and universities don't either, like these "test optional" schools.

    For colleges that do require test scores, you can choose which ones you send. However, if you took the tests more than once, you might want to send in all of your scores. Most colleges will combine the highest subscores from each test and add those together to give you the best possible score.
  • What if I haven't taken the SAT or ACT yet?

    If you are applying to a college or university that requires one of these tests, you'll need to take the SAT or ACT as soon as possible.
  • What additional information will I need to include for each college application?

    Each college is different. You can find more information by looking at the admission page on each college's website. Common examples of additional items include a high school transcript, a personal statement or essay, a brief response to a question about why you are interested in that particular school, and/or letters of recommendation from teachers or other adults who know you. Students applying to art schools may also be required to submit a portfolio of their work, and student-athletes might be asked to submit a game tape or stats.
  • If I will not graduate from high school but have earned (or will earn) my GED, can I still apply to a 4-year college or university?

    Of course! Check the admissions page of the colleges where you plan to apply for any additional requirements. Be sure to have a copy of your GED scores when you apply.
  • What types of questions will I be asked about my past criminal activity?

    Some applications ask about your criminal history. Answering "yes" doesn't necessarily mean you won't be admitted. However, lying on your application (about this or anything else) will usually end in you not being admitted - or even expelled. If you have questions about how the college will use this information, you can contact the admissions office. You don't have to identify yourself when you call since you are just gathering information.
  • What if I can't afford the application fee?

    Most colleges that charge a fee also offer a fee deferral or a fee waiver for students who can't afford the application fee. A fee deferral means that you don't have to pay the application fee when you submit your forms, but if you are accepted and decide to enroll, it will be added to your tuition bill. A fee waiver means that you never have to pay the application fee. For Oregon's public universities, you'll need to use the OPU Deferral Request Form. For other colleges and universities, you can use the NACAC Fee Waiver Request Form. Your school counselor will usually need to sign this form.