Most college applications, including Apply Texas, the Common Application, and the Coalition for College, opened August 1 for students who plan to start college in the fall of 2022.
While most schools require similar applications, different admission options allow you to submit your application by different deadlines. The four basic options are early action, early decision, regular decision, and rolling admission. For more information on the difference between early actions and early decision, see this story.
Most colleges and universities require a college essay, as well as letters of recommendation and official high school transcripts. And while grades, rank, test scores, and extracurricular activities are extremely important, they do not provide admissions offices and/or scholarship committees with enough information. That is why colleges and scholarship committees ask you for essays and personal statements. For more information on writing an effective college essay, see this story.