Most of the 2008 hopefuls are now at Ringling, so it seems time to start this years thread. This is the place for students applying in 2009 to meet one another and current Ringling students, and recieve advice on how to get accepted.
Some notes on applications, garnered while I was at Ringling pre-college. Some of it may be more relevant to computer animation than other majors.
Most of your portfolio should be drawings from life. The website says at least half; seventy five percent would be safer.
It's okay to have some concept art stuff, as long as it is good and reasonably original. Just be sure to get critiques on your work, and avoid stereotypes such as dragons and unicorns.
Same goes for 3d computer work. Also, keep in mind that the more complex a model or animation, the more likely it is to have visible flaws. A simple, effective piece will help you, while an ambitious but imperfect piece will hurt you.
Include only your best work; don't feel obligated to show a vast quantity or huge variety.
That being said, if you have top notch pieces in a variety of mediums, include them all. If you've invested the time to become good in many media, show it off.
Some of your work can be stylized, but avoid using other peoples styles, especially anime.
Grades/Recommendation Letters/Test Scores:
While secondary to the portfolio, grades do play a significant part in admissions. Likewise for letters of recommendation. While you don't have to submit standardized test scores, the people in admissions say that they never hurt and sometimes help an applicant.
While the essay is less important than any of the above factors, it can be a deciding factor for a borderline applicant. Try to be entertaining; if you can entertain them with writing, it's more likely you'll be able to entertain on canvas or film. Don't try to suck up, and don't include any variation on "ever since I sax X, I've wanted to be an animator/concept artist/whatever." (supposedly, in order to make reading that sentence hundreds of times more bearable, they read it in a funny voice whenever the encounter it).
Also, the essay is your chance to explain any extracurriculars that you think should help you get in.