The Hidden Costs of College Applications

Riley Sims, Co-Editor-in-Chief

It is now my senior year and the time has come for me to start filling out college applications. However, nobody prepared me for how much time, money and writing goes into the whole process.

Throughout high school, I’ve watched numerous YouTube videos and read countless articles about the application process and what colleges look for. I knew that the process wouldn’t be easy and it would take a long time, but people online made it seem possible to complete many applications on time. According to a survey released on Cappex, counselors recommended completing an average of 5.9 college applications. I planned on applying to various colleges, both colleges that I felt I had a good chance of getting into and ones where it would be a reach, to have more options. Now, I’m not even sure if I will have time to apply to more than two of those choices.

The first problem that I ran across is the difference in the Common App and Apply Texas. These two websites are where students submit their applications. However, not all of the colleges that I am applying to use the same one. As result, I have to create two different applications as opposed to having all of my information on one website. While both applications, for the most part, asked for the same general information, they each requested additional items. For example, the Common Application asked for an additional essay and a more detailed explanation of your coursework versus Apply Texas, which just asked for your senior year courses and the number of classes you’ve taken in each subject.

The abundance of writing requirements also caught me off guard. In the beginning, the amount of writing didn’t seem too bad. Some colleges I looked at only required an essay or two. However, it doesn’t end there. Once I submitted my application, I received emails from the universities notifying me of scholarships I could apply to as well as honors programs, all requiring extra writing materials. Most of these applications had the same deadline as the college application itself, so I was on a time constraint. So far I’ve had to write six different writing supplements for my applications, and I have only applied to two colleges. While these range in length, it still isn’t easy. I have to put the same amount of effort into each answer, because they are an important part of the application. According to Huffington Post, college admissions officers typically spend about 15 to 20 minutes looking at each essay, so it is important that the essays talk about you as a person in a way that stands out. Colleges look at those essays to see who you are as a student, and I don’t want to come across as someone who lacks effort.

The cost of the application is another hurdle I had to face. According to Forbes, the average cost of applying to a college in 2016 was $50 per school. The cost went up 40 percent the following year. This doesn’t include the cost to send in test scores, however. In total, I have spent $227 for the application process. This doesn’t even include the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on test prep sessions and membership fees for certain honorary societies on my application. While certain applicants may qualify for fee waivers if they have a certain income or are a part of the reduced lunch program, I am not one of those students.

My biggest advice to anybody applying to college is to have options, but be aware of the time and money that comes from them. College applications are exciting, yet they can be stressful and time consuming.