Applying to College

Here are the basic steps for applying to college.  They are only the basics, so pay close attention to any specific directions from each college regarding how to apply.

1. apply online

You will either need to complete an application at each college’s website and/or complete an application at one of the following websites.

Common App– One central application for over 400 colleges and universities across the country, including UT Knoxville, Vanderbilt, Belmont, Lipscomb, Ivy League schools, and more.

Common Black College Application- One central application for all Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Universal College Application– A central application for 45 colleges. Some are also listed on the Common App, some are not.

2. REQUEST letters of recommendation

If you need a letter of recommendation from your counselor, please download and complete the HHS Counselor Recommendation Letter Request Form 2016-2017: Word Document | PDF

Please be sure to turn in your Recommendation Letter Request Form at least two (2) full weeks before your deadline.

3. request transcripts

Please request your transcript via Parchment if your college is not on the Common App.  If you need help with Parchment, please see these instructions: How to set up your Parchment Account or watch this video.

If you applied to a college on the Common App, your counselor will send your transcript through the Common App so you do not need to request it via Parchment.  If you have questions, please see your counselor.

4. send your test scores

Test scores are sent directly to colleges from ACT and the College Board (for the SAT). Click below for more information about ordering score reports:

Send ACT scores

Send SAT scores

If you took the official ACT at Hillsboro during the school day in April 2016, here is how to get your score online:  How to get state ACT score online

For more about testing, see our Testing & Test Prep page.

5. Pay the application fees

Colleges typically will not consider your application until you have paid the application fee.  Check with each college and/or the Common App for details about these fees.  If you have concerns about paying the application fees, please talk with your counselor. Fee waivers may be available to you.

6. register for tennessee promise!

The Tennessee Promise scholarship will provide two years of tuition-free attendance at a community or technical college in Tennessee.  We want EVERY SENIOR to sign up for this scholarship.  More information is at the Tennessee Promise homepage and the Tennessee Promise checklist.


Often colleges will email you or send you letters in the mail to let you know if anything is missing from your application file or if they need more information, etc.  So, it is very important that you are constantly checking your email and mail to keep up with everything!