College applications are as different as the institutions they represent. They can be lengthy and ask questions in a way that confuses students about what the college is asking. Some are much more user-friendly than others. Some require multiple essays and short answer questions while others have no essays at all. Most ask questions about parents that students can't answer. Some applications provide options for students from unusual family circumstances while others do not.
The tremendous differences between college admission applications and processes is a reason to start college applications early. Preparation is needed for items such as unofficial transcripts and resumes that must be scanned into some online applications. Students need to ask faculty for permission to list them as references before they start the process.
Students need support in the college admission application process. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and neighbors can provide valuable help as listeners, readers and encouragers from the sidelines.