Applying to college while undocumented: Timeline and advice


We all know that the summer is long and many of us have a lot of free time. A good way to use our time is to start thinking about and preparing for college. If you are undocumented and thinking about going to college, especially if you are a junior in high school, here is some helpful advice and a timeline of how to prepare for college applications this summer.


Start looking for schools you want to apply to and reflect on what you are looking for in a school. Choose wisely, because it is a lot of work and you need to concentrate on schools you would actually want to attend. I recommend that you consider the following when choosing schools:

  • Cost of attendance
  • Do they provide state aid or financial assistance for undocumented students?
  • Acceptance rate
  • Is it undocufriendly?
  • Do they offer your major or field of study?
  • Distance from home

Once you have created a list of all the schools you are interested in, make a list of “safe”, “target”, and “reach” schools.

  • Safe schools are usually easy to get in to and affordable. These can be schools that you are certain you will get accepted to. Think about community colleges or local public universities.
  • Target schools are within your academic achievements and although they are not very hard to get in to, you still need a strong application to be accepted. Think about schools you like and if your GPA and SAT/ACT scores fall between the average of the university,
  • Reach schools are highly competitive and they can be considered your dream schools. Your scores might be lower than the average, but a strong application can help. Think about out-of-state, private or Ivy League schools that you would love to attend.

Keep in mind that safe, reach and target schools are different for everyone, it all depends on your grades and where you want to apply. Never feel discouraged to apply to certain schools, just believe in your hard work.


Once you have a strong list, search for school application deadlines and rearrange your list based on this information.

Take into consideration early action, early decision (binding), or simply early application. These methods increase your probabilities to get in, but deadlines are usually much earlier depending on the school.

  • Don’t forget to also write down the deadlines of scholarships you qualify for in each school and state aid if applicable.
  • Start looking for the essay requirements and supplemental essays for each college/university.
  • Begin to write rough drafts for your essays.

August- Sept

  • Create an account for the application website that you will be using. This includes the Common App, Universal College Application, Coalition Application, Apply TX (Texas schools only), UC application (California schools), etc.

The common app is usually your best bet, because it has more than 500 schools available, including out-of-state. However, feel free to use any online application that your schools accept. Some schools might require you to apply using different websites, so don’t forget to look into that.

  • Continue working on your essays and start asking English teachers and college counselors for feedback to strengthen your essays.
  • Start asking teachers for letters of recommendation and remind them of the deadlines. .


  • Start filling out applications and make yourself familiar with additional requirements and financial aid at your school.
  • Gather all the paperwork necessary to start applying and ask your college counselor to send your paperwork by the deadlines
  • Once you have applied, don’t forget to call each school to confirm they received everything. Ask if they need any extra paperwork from you.


  • Send financial aid documentation to each university
  • Start receiving acceptance letters and award letters (if applicable).

Best of luck in your college applications and make this summer count!!  Hope this advice and timeline are helpful. Don’t forget to comment below if you have any questions.

Alejandra was born in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon Mexico and immigrated to the Rio Grande Valley in TX when she was 14 years. Soon after, her visa expired and she became one of millions of undocumented individuals living in the shadows. After facing numerous challenges because of her status, she decided to own her narrative and come out of the shadows. With the support of her community and an incredible network of undocumented students and allies around the nation, Alejandra was able to apply to college, and is excited to start her new journey as a freshman at Tufts University. She hopes to become more active in the immigrant rights movements and earn a degree that would allow her to assist other students like her.


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Categories: Applying to College

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