How to Apply to College: Insights on the Application Process

By Inland Empire Success | June 18, 2024

Applying to College Is Easier than You Think!

Congratulations! You’ve taken the first step toward an exciting future by deciding to apply to college. Whether you’re planning to attend a California Community College (CCC), a California State University (CSU), or a University of California (UC), this guide will help you navigate the application process with confidence.

Understanding the Types of Colleges in California

  • California Community Colleges (CCC): CCCs offer a fantastic start for many students. With 116 campuses throughout the state, CCCs provide affordable education and flexible options. The Inland Empire is home to a number of excellent community colleges, so you don’t need to go far from home. Whether you want to earn an associate degree, transfer to a four-year university, or gain vocational skills, CCCs are an excellent choice.
  • California State Universities (CSU): The CSU system has 23 campuses across the state. Known for their diverse programs and practical education, CSUs are a popular choice for many students, offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees with a focus on hands-on learning and career readiness.
  • University of California (UC): The UC system includes nine undergraduate campuses known for their research and academic excellence. UCs offer a range of programs and have a competitive admissions process. They are ideal for students seeking an in-depth academic experience.

The Application Process: Step-by-Step Instructions for Each College Type

California Community Colleges (CCC)

  1. Launch CCCApply: This platform allows you to apply to almost any CCC.
  2. Application Fee: Good news! Applying to a CCC is free.
  3. Prepare Required Information: You’ll need your high school transcripts, Social Security number (if you have one), Statewide Student Identifier (SSID) on your transcripts (or ask your counselor), citizenship status, and your parent’s annual income if you’re applying for financial aid.
  4. Submit and Follow Up: After submitting your application, you’ll receive a welcome email with your student ID number. Follow the instructions for orientation, assessment, and registration.
  5. Tips: Complete orientation and a readiness assessment, and create an education plan with a counselor to ensure you receive priority registration. Also, be sure to explore financial aid options.

California State Universities (CSU)

  1. Launch Cal State Apply: Begin your application from to keep track of your progress in My Plan.
  2. Deadlines and Fees: Application opens on October 1 for fall admission, with a priority deadline of November 30. The fee is $70 per campus, but fee waivers are available for eligible students.
  3. Prepare Required Information: You’ll need your high school transcripts, ACT/SAT scores if you choose to include them (optional), your Social Security number and SSID, proof of your citizenship status, and your parent’s annual income.
  4. Tip: Carefully review your application before submitting it because changes can’t be made afterward.
  5. Special Considerations: Some campuses or majors have additional admission requirements due to high demand. The Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) offers support for first-generation or low-income students. The California Promise Program provides benefits like priority registration and academic advising if you commit to finishing your degree on time.

University of California (UC)

  1. Launch UC Application: Start your application from, and consider syncing your accounts for easier data transfer.
  2. Deadlines and Fees: Application opens on August 1 and can be submitted from October 1 to November 30. The application fee is $80 per campus, with fee waivers available.
  3. Prepare Required Information: You’ll need your high school transcripts, ACT/SAT scores (optional), Social Security number, citizenship status, and parent’s annual income.
  4. Personal Insight Questions: Spend time drafting and revising your responses to the UC-specific personal insight questions, which are crucial to showcase your personality and achievements.
  5. Special Considerations: The EOP provides support for first-generation or low-income students. Use the UC Eligibility Tool in your Academic Planner to check if you’re on track for admission.

Additional Application Platforms

When applying to colleges, students can streamline the process using the Common App (used by nearly 900 colleges), the Common Black College Application (for 58 HBCUs), or other individual college applications.

  • Common Application (Common App): Used by almost 900 colleges, this tool includes many private colleges in California and allows you to manage multiple applications from one place.
  • Common Black College Application (CBCA): Used by 58 Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the CBCA allows you to apply to multiple HBCUs with one application and a $20 fee.
  • Other College Applications: Some colleges have their own applications or offer a choice between their own application and a shared application like the Common App.

Tips for Success in Applying to College

  • Stay Organized: Keep track of deadlines and submission dates using My Plan on
  • Understand Requirements: Read the admissions websites of the colleges you’re applying to, and contact admissions offices if you have questions.
  • Prepare Early: Gather all necessary documents and information to avoid last-minute stress.
  • Use Resources: Take advantage of workshops, guides, and counseling services your high school and prospective colleges offer.

Applying to college is a significant step in your educational journey. By understanding the application processes for different types of colleges in California and staying organized, you can navigate this process with confidence and ease. Your hard work and determination will pave the way for a bright future. Keep going, and believe in yourself—you’ve got this! We’re here to guide your efforts!