Common App: Can I submit my application before my recommenders submit their forms?

Common App: Can I submit my application before my recommenders submit their forms?

We get this question a lot, and it’s a good one! Here’s what the Common App has to say:

You are allowed to submit your application before your counselor or teachers submit their school forms whether they choose to do so online or on paper. The Common Application system allows recommendations to be submitted even after the application has been submitted.

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.

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

Ten Tips for Writing College Specific Essays / Supplemental Essays

Ten Tips for Writing College Specific Essays / Supplemental Essays

Time to write those supplemental essays…

  1. Don’t forget your reader. There’s a lot you don’t know about the admissions officers who will read your file—where they come from, what they have experienced, and what they personally value and believe. Keep this in mind as you write. Are you expressing some potentially divisive opinions? Be careful to do so in a thoughtful, nuanced way that appreciates the “other side.” Are you talking about a community that you are not a member of? Make sure that you are using culturally competent and correct language. Are you writing about an experience in a foreign country? Be wary of falling back to cultural stereotypes. The last thing you want to do is show a lack of sensitivity or understanding and offend your reader as a result.
  2. Do show social and cultural awareness, and especially empathy and understanding, for people who are different from you. Every college wants to admit kind, open-minded students who are going to embrace diversity and be a positive force in their community.
  3. Don’t forget to tell a story. Many students write the personal statement then think they’re done with being personal. This is not the case! One of the biggest problems with many supps is simply that they’re boring. The best way to bypass this issue is to craft a personal narrative around whatever you’re writing about, whether it’s leadership, creativity, or your potential major.
  4. Do show an understanding of a school’s mission and values. Linking your experiences or goals to a given school’s values (usually stated explicitly in their mission statement) is an excellent way to add an extra layer of specificity to an essay. It is also important to be sensitive to a school’s values for other reasons: if, for instance, you are applying to Brigham Young University, you wouldn’t want to submit an essay denigrating Christianity or any values specific to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  5. Don’t just copy-paste information from the school’s website. You need school-specific information in many supplements, especially the why school or academic interest supplement. If you only copy some information you found in the school’s website without explaining how and why that information will apply to your college experience, your essay will seem shallow. Be specific in connecting what you learn about the school with your goals and past experiences.
  6. Don’t try to be too funny. You want to preserve as much of your personality as possible but humor is one of the hardest things to recreate on the page. A written joke—without your gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice to guide the listener—can come across as corny at best and cynical, or even mean, at worst. Be extra mindful of this if you are trying to incorporate humor into your essays, and trust an adult’s judgement if you’re unsure.
  7. But don’t take yourself too seriously! A lighthearted approach to any topic will make your essay more readable and more engaging and—bonus!—make you seem more fun and approachable in the process. Colleges don’t necessarily care about admitting fun or approachable students but they do want students who will contribute to the community—and these attributes usually indicate that you will.
  8. Do look for ways to show self-awareness. You can get away with almost anything—a bad pun, a selfish thought—if you call yourself out for it in your essay. Doing so also displays a high level of self-knowledge and maturity that colleges value.
  9. Don’t brag (or humble brag), rehash your resume, or focus too much on academic awards or honors. A compelling story, not a big award, is what will make your application unique and memorable.
  10. Do try to be yourself, while keeping the suggestions above in mind. It’s no fun reading essays that scream you are “trying too hard” to be something you think colleges want.

 *Stay in the know! Subscribe*

Common Application Updates – Refresh August 1

Common Application Updates – Refresh August 1

From the Common App….

Over the past several years, we’ve marked the joyful occasion of a new application year by celebrating launch as Common App Day! August 1 is just around the corner, and we want to share a few last minute reminders so you and your students are prepared. 

  • Application refresh dates. The 2021-2022 first-year application will close to applicants and recommenders at 5 pm ET on July 28, 2022. The 2021-2022 transfer application will close to applicants and recommenders at 5 pm ET on July 29, 2022.
  • Account rollover. Students will need to sign in and refresh their Common App accounts for the new cycle, which begins on August 1, 2022. Here are some reminders about how account rollover works for first-year and transfer students. 
  • Evolving the Application changes. Changes to the 2022-2023 application include revisions to questions related to gender and fee waivers to better reflect the needs of our students. You can view how the changes will take effect in this guide
  • Protecting student data. Each student who interacts with Common App trusts us to protect their personal identifiable information, and we take that responsibility seriously. Our privacy policy shares in detail what information we collect and the precaution we take to protect that information. 

 *Stay in the know! Subscribe*

College Specific Supplemental Essays: Strategy/Tips

College Specific Supplemental Essays: Strategy/Tips

One of the reasons that we like students to have a sense of their college list when they start essay writing is that each essay does not exist in a vacuum. Everything submitted with a college application needs to work together to tell the fullest story possible about who you are, what you are all about, and the value you will add to the school that’s reading your application.

Complement your Personal Statement—don’t compete with it. You should aim to make sure all of your supplemental essays are as separate from the personal statement as possible. For instance, if my personal statement is about my passion for dance (my main extracurricular), and a school requires what we call a creativity supplement in The Complete College Essay Handbook, I would choose to write about something other than dance for the PS because I might want to focus on that in the supplement.

Present a rounded picture, even if you are narrow. Notice that I didn’t say be well-rounded. I don’t advise that! But imagine you apply to a school that requires two supplemental essays. One prompt clearly calls for an academic and intellectual interests (AII) essay, and the second is open-ended. You wouldn’t want to write a second AII essay for that school. Although college is first and foremost about academics, you want the opportunity to present as many parts of yourself as possible; go with any one of the other three types of supplemental essays that we outline in detail within The Complete College Essay Handbook! Every single college applicant should be able to write an impact and influence and community and identity essay.

Consider the school’s values. Sticking with the same example: if a school asks for two supplements and one prompt clearly calls for an AII essay, and the second is open-ended, in addition to writing a different type of supp, you should also take the school’s mission and values into consideration. For instance, since Jesuit schools like Santa Clara, Fordham, and the University of San Francisco tend to value service more than some secular schools, an impact and influence essay would be the best choice for the second prompt. Conversely, a liberal arts college with a long history of political activism, such as Wesleyan, Smith, or Oberlin, might react more favorably to a community and identity essay with an impact twist.

Use your best story. Imagine you have one just incredible story, and it fits perfectly into the impact and influence type. You write the essay—it’s great, and you love it! Then you realize that your top-choice school asks for a community and identity essay. What should you do? If your story is really that good, you are actually better off turning that impact and influence essay into a community and identity essay—even if it feels like a bit of a stretch. Admissions officers will remember how you made them feel—not that you didn’t answer the question quite as accurately as another applicant.

 *Stay in the know! Subscribe*

Common Application Summer 2022 Refresh and Rollover

Common Application Summer 2022 Refresh and Rollover

Each year on August 1, Common App launches the refreshed application with updated information, including any new questions and new colleges. Students will need to sign in and refresh their Common App accounts for the new cycle. 

Many colleges change their questions from year to year, so if students started working on responses to college-specific questions, they will be deleted. 

For more details about how account rollover works, be sure to reference these Solutions Center articles for first-year and transfer students, as well as tips located in the CA application guide.

Mark your calendars for the system refresh dates:

  • The first-year application will close to applicants and recommenders at 5 pm ET on July 28, 2022.
  • The transfer application will close to applicants and recommenders at 5 pm ET on July 29, 2022.

 *Stay in the know! Subscribe*

Rising Sophomores and Juniors: College Planning Starts Now!

Rising Sophomores and Juniors: College Planning Starts Now!

College counseling is not a program that you simply sign up for—it’s a relationship, and a process that takes place over an extended period of time.

The majority of our work with students—which includes academic planning, narrative and extracurricular development (your academic and EC “story” for college), a strategic college list, and completing essays, app data, and an extended resume—starts in 10th or early in 11th grade.

Rising soph’s and juniors can:

  • Start to prep for standardized exams early. Don’t wait until spring of your junior year to begin prep. We have a small list of tutors who we can highly recommend; don’t leave who you work with up to chance.
  • Meet with your school guidance counselor. They will write one of your letters of recommendation for college, and the letter will be much more personal if you know each other.
  • Build your story! Have you been heavily involved with any of your extracurricular activities (other than sports, in which you can’t major)? Look for impact and leadership opportunities. More importantly, does your resume point toward a major or intellectual interest? What is your story, and how is it told on your resume?
  • Plan your summer wisely. You’ll want to use this summer to build your resume and make sure it’s pointed toward your intended major.
  • Visit the websites of schools you are interested in. Explore the admission and academic pages, start to attend virtual offerings, and track your contact with schools. It should be exciting to kick your college research into a higher gear this summer. How else will you get to know schools (rankings do not count, they are meaningless)? Don’t forget to connect with your reps, too.

Fill out the contact form to schedule a consult and find out how we can support you in your college planning and application process.

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

Thoughtful, Authentic, Effective College Essays

Thoughtful, Authentic, Effective College Essays

The college essay is fairly simple to write but often made more complicated than it needs to be. The goal? Clear, concise, effective. Nothing fancy, nothing that should take more than a few weeks, max. 

Effective essays: 

  • Demonstrate authenticity and thoughtfulness
  • Bring the writer to life on paper (but are not an explanation of their whole life)
  • Are excellent in topic, style, and grammar

We are gearing up for a summer busy with college essay support, so our students can start senior year with peace of mind, less stress, and having already completed most of their essays

If you know a rising senior who would benefit from our guidance and who might want to work with one of our essay experts, contact us to schedule a consultation.

*Stay in the know! Subscribe*

College Admission: Data, Transparency, And Match

College Admission: Data, Transparency, And Match

Does it matter whether Princeton was ranked the number one or number three university in the country this year? Do you really care if Stanford’s overall admit rate was 3.95% or 2.16%? What does it mean to you if the University of Pennsylvania denied 94.32% or 95.74% of all applicants?

News flash: these institutions are uber selective. You could be the most qualified student in the country with perfect grades and test scores, an exceptionally written college essay, glowing recommendations, and impactful community involvement, and still be turned down by the most selective colleges.

Brennan Barnard’s recent Forbes piece explores colleges’ lack of transparency and so much more. Give it a read!
The reality is, you are rolling the dice when applying to these schools. They could select a full class of new students, throw it out, take the runners up, and guess what…the overall profile of the accepted class would look nearly identical. In fact, schools with low single-digit admit rates could do this many times over. This you cannot control. What you can control is how YOU approach the college search and application experience, and the quality and usefulness of the data you seek.
 *Stay in the know! Subscribe*
Two BIG Additions to the Common App!

Two BIG Additions to the Common App!

Students applying to college in 2022-2023 will have access to over 50 additional colleges and universities through the Common App. The two “big” additions are:

Texas A&M University (TX)

The University of Texas at Austin (TX)

Find the full list here

 *Stay in the know! Subscribe*

What Admissions Officers Look For In Essays

What Admissions Officers Look For In Essays

Georgia Tech says it best when it comes to essays! 

What we are looking for…

Essays are evaluated for both content and writing/grammatical skills. So, before submitting your application, you should take the time to edit and review your essay thoroughly. Strong essays:

  • Demonstrate authenticity and thoughtfulness
  • Brings you to life on paper
  • Are excellent in topic, style, and grammar

They also share a few other tips…

  • Get started early. Don’t wait until the last minute to complete your essays!
  • Don’t write what you think we want to read. Write what you want to say!
  • Don’t blow off the essay! We wouldn’t ask you to write it if we didn’t find it to be an important way to get to know you, and what you have to bring to Georgia Tech.

What we have to say…

Excellence in topic, style, and grammar is our Essay Expert’s area of excellence, and where we have been told we add tremendous value in our 1:1 work with students as we help them craft surprising, authentic, and effective college essays. 

We are gearing up for a summer busy with college essay support so that students can start senior year with less stress (and ready to submit apps!). If you are or know a junior who might want to work with one of our essay experts, contact us to schedule a free consultation call.  

 *Stay in the know! Subscribe*