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How to Apply to College

Going to college is an exciting experience that can feel overwhelming if you didn't know how to get started. The advice below is intended to give suggestions for how to approach the college application process at any institution, with some UNM-specific information included for good measure.

Get Started

The first step in going to college is to determine what you want to do with your life and identify schools that offer degrees that correspond with those fields. Keep in mind that every college and university offers a different combination of degree programs, so knowing what each offers is important in determining where you should apply. Community colleges typically offer associate degrees that can usually earned in two years. Some are vocationally focused and others are academically focused, most are a combination of both. Universities offer four year bachelor degrees that are typically required in order to advance to a Master's or Ph D Program later.



Once you determine the type of college you would like to attend, the next step involves researching which schools offers the degree (or degrees, if you're on the fence) that you are seeking. Remember that every school is different. Just because a large university has many degrees to choose from doesn't mean that it will offer the one you want. Remember that quality matters, too. This is where doing your homework can really pay off. At the very least, you want to make sure that the program that you are applying to is accredited, meaning that an independent group has determined that the program, college, or school has met industry standards for quality and learning outcomes. Rankings are another way to judge quality. The best way to see if a school is right for you is to check it out yourself. You might find schools that are ideal on paper but don't meet your needs in terms of campus life, the surrounding communities, or financial aid packages (more on that below). That is where a campus tour comes in!



It is highly recommended that you visit the campuses of any school that you are seriously consider applying to. Every institution will have some type of campus visit program. At UNM, all you need to do to is contact the UNM Admissions & Recruitment Office at 505-277-8503. Every college or university will have a similar office that facilitates campus visits.



Regardless of how selective a college or university is, you will still need to apply. Most major institutions will require an application, your official high school transcripts, and an ACT or SAT test score. You should plan to take the ACT or SAT in your junior year of high school, and retake it in your senior year if you aren't satisfied with your initial score.


Gear Up

Once you've been accepted to an institution that you want to attend, be on the lookout for information about getting ready. Typically, required next steps will be described in your admissions letter. Some institutions require a formal acceptance of admission, others will only require that you register for

classes. Most universities have some form of New Student Orientation to help you register for classes and take care of other pre-enrollment tasks.



Whether you are living on campus or commuting from home, the most important thing you can do you to be successful is to show up ready and willing to participate in the next phase of your educational journey. Most college classes will not take attendance, so going to class is up to you. That being said, you are still responsible for anything and everything covered in class, whether or not you attend. Students who do well academically go to class prepared and ready to engage with their instructors and peers. Outstanding students also get involved in extracurricular activities such as clubs, on-campus jobs, and research opportunities. Make the most of your education by taking advantage of everything that your college or university has to offer!