College Application Basics

Central Components of the College Application:

As you look ahead to your senior year, it is important that you know what kind of information you will be asked to provide as part of your application to college. Requirements for applications vary according to the particular college or university. In general, the following components are required:

The application: includes basic questions—name, address, school, courses you are taking etc. The application may also include direct questions regarding any disciplinary challenges you have had.

Your official transcript: This is something you will request, in writing, from your college guidance advisor or high school registrar. When you do so, it is important to clarify if your Dual Credit courses and/or other summer academic courses you have taken are included on your transcript. Some schools also include ACT/SAT scores on the official transcripts—again, it is your responsibility to determine if this is the case at your particular high school!

High School Profile: a brief snapshot of your high school community and its distinct programs that your college guidance advisor will provide.

High School Course Description and Grading Scale: also provided by a high school guidance advisor to ensure that college admissions representatives understand the specific details of the classes you have taken here and how you have been graded.

Financial Aid information including the FAFSA form.

Application fee waiver form based on your family income so you do not have to pay the application fees. This is something you do through your college guidance advisor.

In addition, depending on the college or university, you may be required to submit:

  • Personal essays: these can be among the most important parts of your application—we will devote significant attention to college essay writing at the end of the junior year and beginning of the senior year.
  • Letters of recommendation from teachers/advisors/mentors with whom you have worked closely.
  • Graded essays from your high school, college dual credit classes or summer programs.
  • Official college transcripts from any courses you have taken in addition to your high school transcript.
  • Additional Financial Aid forms—in particular, the CSS Profile.
  • An interview on the college campus or locally here in New Mexico when college admissions representatives/alums are visiting.

The Common Application:

As you research colleges and universities, it is worth determining if the Common Application is accepted. The ‘Common App’ is used by over 900 colleges and universities around the country. This is an online application that you complete once and then submit electronically to several colleges. Many colleges and universities that accept the Common Application also require Supplemental Materials (such as an additional essay) that are specific to that college.


Financial Aid:

Thinking about the cost of attending college can be overwhelming. College can be expensive when you add up tuition, fees, books, and so many other expenses. Some students decide not to apply to a particular college because of the cost. This is surely understandable, given that some colleges cost tens of thousands of dollars per year. It is also understandable because New Mexico students have the extraordinary opportunity for Lottery Scholarships that cover most college expenses.

How to Apply


A scholarship is money you apply for to help you cover college expenses that your financial aid may not cover. It does not need to be paid back. Individual colleges and universities have specific scholarships for which you can apply. In addition, there are many organizations that offer scholarships for students.

• CCP is happy to assist you as there are MANY local, regional and national scholarship opportunities. (Link to Scholarships Calendar)

  1. The Simon Foundation offers high school sophomores a variety of services that go beyond high school. This scholarship will help New Mexico students on their road to college and all that comes with it. To learn more visit their website at SiomnScholars  or contact Janeth Santos at: .
  2. The Del Norte Credit Union scholarship helps high school seniors with a $1,000 dollar award. Participants must be members of Del Norte Credit Union before applying and plan to enroll full-time a an accredited two-year or four-year college, university or vocational-technical school for the entire 2021-2022 school year. For more information visit or email
  3. The Gates Foundation gives low-income students the opportunity to pursue higher education. Winners of the Gates Scholarship will receive full funding for the cost of attendance. Deadline is September 15, 2020. Learn more at thegatesscholarship. This application requires extensive time.
  4. The LANL foundation offers a variety of scholarship opportunities for those seeking a traditional 4 year undergraduate experience or a career pathway. The applications open on October 1st. To find out more visit or contact Mike Ammerman at
  5. Becoming a Golden Door Scholar gives students with DACA, TPS, and other immigration statues the opportunity to go to college. The fall 2020 application has not yet opened. To learn more and keep up to date visit
  • There are TONS of scholarships out there—many are overlooked! Be sure to follow College & Career Plaza on FACEBOOK and sign up for our email list for frequent scholarship updates.

• Undocumented students can start here: BECAS

NM Bridge To Success and Success Grant Scholarships:

If you attend a NM university, your lottery scholarship will not be in place until 2nd semester. These two scholarships are provided during the first semester to provide financial support as you begin your college studies. It does not require an application.

NM Lottery Scholarship:

As a high school student in New Mexico, you are fortunate to have access to NM Lottery Scholarship funds. This scholarship helps thousands of students cover a significant amount of their college expenses each year. It does NOT cover all costs, however, which is why we will continue to urge you to apply for additional scholarships! Here are the basic details on this scholarship, as included on UNM’s scholarship website:

Eligibility Requirements:

New Mexico residents who have established residency and attended a public New Mexico secondary educational institution for at least one year, regardless of immigration status, and meet all below listed criteria are eligible.

Graduate from a New Mexico public or accredited private high school, or received a New Mexico GED.

Enroll full-time (twelve credit hours) in a public New Mexico college or university in a degree or certificate program the first regular term following high school graduation or receipt of a GED.

Complete at least fifteen credit hours with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or better in the first term of college, the Qualifying Semester. For CNM and SFCC the requirement is 12 credit hours.


Make sure you are meeting your graduation requirements when it comes to testing. Speak with your counselor to see if you need to take any test. We can help with registration and deciding what test is best for you and the College/University you will apply to. Below you’ll find some preliminary information on the ACT/SAT and superscoring.

Compare the ACT and SAT tests

  • ACT includes a Science section
  • SAT includes one SAT Math Section on which you may not use a calculator

Testing Resources