college application checklist

Applying to college in Texas? Or anywhere? Then the latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation is for you. Host Ian Fisher offers up a full show of application advice and guidance, on managing the expense of the college application process, navigating the ApplyTexas application, and getting started on college apps in general.

Cost of Applying to College

In the first segment, Ian welcomed back College Coach finance expert Laurie Peltier, who went through all the expenses involved in the college search and application process—from early on in high school to those last campus visits in April.  Families don’t always realize how much college can cost before they even get that first tuition bill! Laurie and Ian went through the breakdown of costs, which can include:

  1. Testing, including the PSAT, SAT, ACT, and/or Subject Test, and test prep courses;
  2. AP classes and exams;
  3. Application fees, ranging from $30 to $80 per college; and
  4. College visits.

Laurie and Ian ended the segment by discussing strategies for managing these expenses. They talked about eligibility for fee waivers and provided some helpful cost-saving tips for those campus visits.

How to Get Started on Your College Applications

After talking about paying for the college applications, Ian welcomed College Coach expert Kara Courtois to talk about actually getting started on filling them out! They covered a wide range of topics, including tips and suggestions on the following:

  • Getting organized;
  • Mapping out a timeline;
  • Visiting colleges;
  • Checking in with teachers and guidance counselors;
  • Finalizing the college list; and
  • Creating an application checklist.

Finally, Kara encouraged students to get into the applications and start filling them out now! Almost all application platforms allow students to save information to be submitted later. Students can start on the data entry now, helping to de-mystify the process for them.


For the third and final segment, Ian welcomed College Coach (and ApplyTexas) expert Tova Tolman, to explain the Texas state application process. All Texas schools (public and private, with the exception of Rice) utilize one universal application: ApplyTexas. Like the Common App and the University of California application, ApplyTexas is a one-stop shop for applying to Texas colleges.

Before talking about the application itself, Tova gave listeners a crash course in the automatic admission policy for Texas public universities (otherwise known as the Top 10% Rule). For Texas residents only, if a student is in the top 10% of their high school class at the end of junior year, they are guaranteed admission to any public institution in Texas (tune in for an explanation of exceptions!).

Tova then dove into some tips for filling out the application, referencing her recent, in-depth blog post on the ApplyTexas application (a must-read for any Texas college applicant). She also shared big, late-breaking news:  UT Austin just announced that, in addition to their usual one long essay, they will also now require three new short essays—one on career plans, one on academics, and a final essay on leadership.

Up next  on Getting In: A College Coach Conversation: A look inside the American University Admissions Office, a guide to the University of California application, and listener questions on college finance.


Written by Julia Jones
Julia Jones is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Julia previously worked as a senior admissions officer at Brandeis University and was the director of admissions at Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School. Visit our website to learn more about Julia Jones.