As college application season is fully underway, it is time for some tips for jump-starting your applications and filling out the Common Application:
- Once you have created your Common App account, search for and add your colleges to your list via the search tab.
- Create a timeline with all relevant application deadlines for each school to keep you on task. Include personal deadlines for completing the essays and other materials you will be submitting.
- Make an essay chart which includes all essay requirements for each school along with the wordcount limits. Begin drafting your essays as soon as possible to give yourself time for several rounds of editing. Set an early deadline for essays to keep yourself on time for all applications.
- Make a designated application folder and gather all documents and information needed for the Common Application. Take a look at the quick guide below to get an idea of what information you will need to complete the app. By gathering materials needed such as your transcript, counselor and teacher contact info, resume, and testing information before you begin, you will save yourself time and stress while you are in the middle of it. If you do not have a resume, now is a great time to put one together for future use.
- Formally ask your recommenders in person to write their letters before inputting their contact information and sending the request via Common App. For more tips about that, check out my previous post here: http://acmcollegeconsulting.com/the-recommendation-letter-2/
Before you submit your application, please follow up with your teachers and counselors to ensure they will be able to complete and submit a recommendation prior to the school’s stated application deadline. You will not be able to make changes to the teacher/counselor list after you submit your application, you will only have the option of resending the notification to your teacher or counselor.
- When entering your activities, list them in order of importance. You can use the arrows to rearrange them. You have the space to include 10 activities with a description of up to 150 characters not including the 50 character title/role section. You may need to be creative to fit a decent description into such limited space. You can use easily understandable abbreviations and incomplete sentences, but do not use acronyms. Use active verbs and try to include details which demonstrate your affect on the organization such as factual results. Whatever you do, be consistent with the formatting you are using for listing each activity. Just because there are 10 spaces for activities, do not feel the need to fill them. However, if you do happen to have more than 10 substantial activities, you can use the additional information section to include others. Do not do this unless the activities are truly meaningful. Your application readers will know the difference between something significant and fluff.
- Invite your counselor, consultant or a mentor to serve as an Advisor for your Common App. You can add them under the Recommenders and FERPA section for your colleges by using their email address. This will allow them to login and view an outline of your application. It is great to have someone else look over everything you entered and make suggestions for optimizing your activity descriptions, etc. Note that the Advisor will not be able to edit or submit anything on your behalf and colleges will not be able to see them.
- Make a copy of materials submitted and take screenshots of submission verifications in case data is lost or somehow received late. Believe it or not, these screenshots have played an important role in discussions of timely submission of applications with colleges.
View the Full 2018-19 Common Application Requirements Grid for all colleges on the Common App