May Action Plan – By Grade

With AP exams, the SAT/ACT prep, and finals coming up, May is a busy month so the action plan is light. Juniors should be gearing up for essays in addition to finishing up testing!

Juniors:

  • Consider this process as you would a class from here on out! You’ll need to carve out time for it every week.  Starting early means you can be flexible—but this won’t be the case later this summer and once school starts.
  • Have you pinpointed two teachers to ask for letters of recommendation? Now is an excellent time to decide who to ask.
  • Some colleges have opened up their on-campus interviews. You should always prepare for interviews, even if a school states they are not evaluative. And optional should not be considered optional!
  • Open a Common App account. Accounts rollover year-to-year, so there’s no better time than now to open an account and familiarize yourself with the system.

Sophomores & Freshmen:

  • Firm up summer plans and a tutoring schedule if you plan to start prep for the SAT, ACT or Subject Tests.
  • Work on your resume!

Recommendation of the Month:

Someone recently reminded me of the power of Ted Talks. I was sent this list a while back. I can’t recommend highly enough taking some time to do a quick search on TED for talks in your areas of interests. They are fascinating, and, great fodder for essays.

 

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Starting the Common Application

You can now roll over your Common App account from year-to-year, so there’s no better time than now to open an account, get familiar with the system, and get some of your app work completed.

Create Your Account

There is no preparation required for this step, so you can create your account as early as you’d like. All you’ll need is some basic profile information—like your name, date of birth, address and phone number. And of course, you’ll need to provide a valid email address.

 Note: Your email address will become your username and the Common App’s primary method of sending you updates and reminders, so make sure that you provide an email address that you check on a regular basis (every day).

Gather Your General Application Information

While every school has a different list of college-specific requirements, the general application information (for the Common App) will remain constant for all schools on your list.

You’ll be asked to list your activities, entrance exam scores and exam dates, parent or legal guardian and sibling information, and for some schools your high school grades and courses. Get a head start and save yourself time by collecting this information before you fill out the application.

Specific Requirements

Just like every student is unique, so is every school. We know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. No two schools will have the exact same requirements—so work to understand these requirements early on.

How? The first thing you need to do is read the Application Instructions on each school’s website. Please take the time to read the application instructions in their entirety. On the Common App, you can also check out the Requirements Grid and download the Requirements Tracker worksheet.

Add Schools to Your Dashboard

The Common App presents you with the opportunity to search from more than 700 schools (private, public, large and small), find the ones that meet your needs, and then add them to your My Colleges list—a convenient place to track the work ahead of you.

Once you log in, simply click on the College Search tab to find schools based on their name, location, deadline, or distance from your home.

Note: If you add schools to your Dashboard before the Common App refreshes for the 2019-2020 application year, any data you fill out on the school-specific pages can and most likely will be erased. If you add schools to your Dashboard after the refresh takes place, your information will be saved for the duration of the 2019-2020 application season.

 

For Common App support, join our FB page, Conquer the Common App. Check out the files section to see what an app looks like filled out. Pay special attention to how you can maximize the impact of your Activities section—a section that many students don’t take too seriously!

 

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Newly Added Common Application and Coalition Application Schools (2018-2019 School Year)

UT Austin will now accept the Coalition Application. First-time freshman applicants are still required to submit the three short answer essays in addition to one longer essay from either Apply Texas Essay A or the Coalition Application options.

A few other popular Coalition App schools include University of Washington and University of Maryland, both who exclusively use the Coalition App (and not the Common App).

The Common App also announced a few new additions for 2018, two of which are very popular with the students I work with: Penn State University and University of Pittsburgh.

Also added were University of Iowa, University of Utah, and Michigan State among others. You can read the full (current) list here.

 

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After you’ve submitted early apps…

If you’re applying Regular Decision (RD) to colleges, you should continue to make progress on your essays and applications in case your early applications are denied or deferred in December/January. It is very difficult to write your essays and complete your applications from December 15 through January 1 or 15, and…

It’s always a good idea to submit apps two to four weeks ahead of RD deadlines as some schools have early RD deadlines for scholarship or interview consideration (for example, USC should be submitted by 12/1 for scholarship consideration, and Duke should be submitted by 12/20 for interview consideration).

I also suggest meeting with your school counselor and triple checking that all early app materials were sent. Share your RD list and make sure they know to send docs accordingly and far in advance of deadlines.

Don’t forget to prepare for interviews! If you have alumni or on-campus interviews, prepare now, don’t wait until the interview is scheduled.

IMPORTANT REMINDER:

Track your application status. Once your applications have been submitted, be sure to track their status online to ensure they received all of your application materials. Follow up with your school counselor ASAP if a school is missing your transcript or a letter of recommendation. Check your JUNK/SPAM email folder regularly (every day) so you do not miss correspondence from schools.

 

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New Common Application Guidance on Essays/Writing Requirements

News from the Common App:

The Common App is providing a brand new feature! In response to feedback from the counseling community, The Common App created a resource to help applicants and those who support them better understand the writing requirements of our more than 700 member colleges.

The Writing Requirements resource is incorporated into our already popular “Members Live” FAQ, which we continually update as colleges publish their specific institutional questions. Clicking the “Writing Requirements” link for a college will take you to a designated page for that college where you will find the following information for both their First-Year and Transfer applications:

* All required and optional long-answer questions

* All required and optional questions that request a document upload

* The location of these questions (College-Specific Questions or Writing Supplement)

* Minimum and maximum word counts for each question

The listing does not include conditionally required writing questions, such as those triggered by an applicant’s choice of academic program. For that reason, the “My Colleges” tab of the Common App account remains the definitive record of each institution’s requirements. We will update each college’s unique FAQ on a weekly basis to reflect any changes within the “My Colleges” section.

We developed this tool to better support counselors seeking to learn more about writing requirements across our member colleges, as well as students working to budget their application planning time. And to those colleagues who have encouraged the creation of this enhancement, thank you for helping us improve how we serve you and your students.

TUTORIAL: COMPLETING THE TESTING SECTION OF THE COMMON APPLICATION

 

Video number four just posted on filling out the Testing section of the Common Application. If you have specific questions as you watch it/fill out your Common App, feel free to shoot me an email or reach out via the link at the end of the video.

I also suggest joining our new Facebook group, Conquer the Common Application!!! We hope this group becomes a place where students, parents, and counselors can ask questions, share advice, and ultimately, get filling out the Common App right. Not everyone’s Testing section will look the same because not everyone takes the same tests or reports test scores at all, but it can be nice to see a sample. If you join the group, you can also access a PDF of a completed Testing section.

Please share this post with students or that helps students fill out the Common Application. Enjoy!

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Tutorial: Completing the Family Section of the Common Application

 

This is the second video by Brittany Maschal Consulting in a series of tutorials on the Common Application! In it, I walk watchers through filling out the Family section of the Common Application. If you have specific questions, feel free to shoot me an email or reach out via the link at the end of the video. I also suggest joining our new Facebook group, Conquer the Common Application. We hope this group becomes a place where students, parents, and counselors can ask questions, share advice, and ultimately, get filling out the Common App right. Not everyone’s Family section will look the same, but it can be nice to see a sample. If you join the group, you can also access a PDF of a fully completed Family section.

Please share this post with students or that helps students fill out the Common Application. Enjoy!

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Class of 2021 Waitlist Admit Rates & Notification Dates

More on the waitlist, this time admit rates and notification dates, from the best college admissions data source out there, College Kickstart. The landscape doesn’t look that much different than last year. How the waitlist plays out always depends a lot on yield, so how many students a school said yes to actually put down a deposit and say they are going to show up in the fall. Some schools do a much better job of this than others. These schools have a high yield, and will not go very deep if onto the waitlist at all. The schools that have not done a good job at predicting yield will head to the waitlist to fill seats as needed. Unfortunately, students can hang out on the waitlist well into the summer, which drags out a process that for most should be finished on or around May 1. For all the waitlisted students out there, we feel your pain, but there are some things you can do to keep yourself busy. Check out our post on what to do if you are waitlisted.

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Key Innovations for 2017-2018 Common Application

There are some changes on the horizon for the Common App! Many of the changes for next year’s application stem from feedback the CA received from admissions offices, high schools, and CBO counselors.

This release was a bit light on information regarding how the changes will be rolled out, for example, what is a limited release? Word on the street is some colleges will be using the courses and grades feature on a trial basis, but those schools are unknown at this time. I am very curious what schools will integrate these changes or integrate them on a trial basis, when some of the changes will take place, etc. Seems like it could be confusing for students, parents, counselors, and others who helps students with their apps. I will be updating this post and re-posting once more information is released, quite possbily in May and June.

Google Drive Integration: Students will now be able to easily access and upload documents, resumes, and school assignments while completing the Common App, and the college-specific sections of the application. We know that many school districts have adopted Google Docs and Google Drive to enable their students and teachers to create, collaborate, and access shared documents from any internet connected device. We also recognize that some students do not always have personal computers at home but use Google Drive on school or library computers to store their documents. We want to meet students where they are. By using the systems that they are already using, we are making the process more accessible for students.

CBO, Advising, and Recommender Enhancements: Students receiving support from advising and community-based organizations will be able to work with those counselors just as they work with their school-based counselors and teachers within the application. These individuals will then be able to manage their caseloads and view student progress within the Common App system. Also, any student who wishes to do so will be able to share a view of their in-progress application with their school counselor, CBO counselor, or other advisors.

Courses & Grades: Many students are required to submit self-reported high school academic records when applying to some colleges and universities. With Courses & Grades, students will be able to fill out their self-reported transcript information as part of their Common Application. By integrating the Courses & Grades section into the Common App, those students who are already sending this information will be able to complete and submit it with their Common App, making the process of self-reporting transcripts more standardized and streamlined for students, counselors, and colleges.

Courses & Grades was developed from the feedback of member institutions, high school students, and counselors. The Common Application hosted a series of student and counselor focus groups with beta testing to determine how to make the self-reported transcript process accessible and efficient. Courses & Grades will launch in limited release on August 1, 2017.

Sorry for the blurry pic, but this is the one that was provided on the CA site:

Spanish Language Resources: Key information for using the Common App will be translated so that students, parents and other family members who speak Spanish as their first language can better understand the college admission process, including applying for financial aid and receiving virtual mentoring. This new tool will also benefit counselors who will be working with these families and will need Common App materials in Spanish.

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