Senior year will be filled with academic rigor, extracurricular activities, standardized testing, searching for and touring Colleges and College applications. Eligible College Students begin their Application Process by completing the Common Application in the summer before their Senior year.
WHEN TO GET STARTED
The Common Application goes live on August 1st. A smart student creates a log-in account that day and begins the process – it will take longer than you think to complete the Common Application. Because the essay prompts may not change from year to year, it’s a good idea to look at the current year’s essay prompts during your Junior year, so you can start thinking about which prompt you might answer and how, knowing that the prompts may change for your Senior year.
This is especially important if you are going to apply to a College via Early Decision, Early Action, Restrictive Early Action, or possibly even Rolling Admission – in other words, if you are applying to any Colleges in a timeframe other than Regular Decision. Earlier application dates requires action and organization.
Many colleges use the Common App as the tool for applying to their College, instead of an individualized application for each College. People will tell you that using the Common App makes it easy to apply to a lot of Colleges, because you write one essay that goes to all of the Colleges and complete one set of forms with your academic credentials, contact information, etc. The reality is that most Colleges have supplemental essays, the most common one being, “Why do you want to attend this College?”. Some Colleges have numerous supplemental essays, or short questions. They may not be as long or complex as your Common App essay, but they will take you time.
COMMON APPLICATION ADVICE
There are tons of websites, articles and books with advice on the Common Application essay. This is because your Common Application essay can often be the difference between being accepted and rejected by a College. Do not underestimate the Common Application Essay’s importance, and plan to spend some serious thought and lots of time writing, editing and discussing your Common App Essay. After you think you are done with your essay, set it down for a few days and come back to it with fresh eyes. Don’t forget to be at least a little creative (but still respectful) – picture the Admission Officer nodding off as they try to read 700 essays.
Refer to The Common Application for more advice.
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