Upcoming Merit Deadlines

Upcoming Merit Deadlines

Some colleges have merit deadlines that are earlier than posted deadlines. For example, if you are applying to BU in RD, the merit deadline is 12/1. Same with UConn, Pitt, Vandy, and others. You’ll find a list below via College Kickstart, but keep in mind this list might not be exhaustive. Please check the application instructions for every single school on your list if you want to apply by merit deadlines. 
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Colleges Using The Self-Reported Academic Record — SRAR

Colleges Using The Self-Reported Academic Record — SRAR

Applicants must complete the SRAR for the following schools, where required. You can typically find more information about the SRAR on a school’s application instructions. Please read them. 






Baylor University (TX) — optional

Binghamton University (NY) – optional

Clemson University (SC) — required

Duquesne University (PA) – optional

Florida A&M University – optional

Florida Atlantic University — required

Florida Polytechnic University (NOT Florida Tech) – optional

Florida State University — required

Kean University of New Jersey — optional

Louisiana State University – optional

Montclair State University (NJ) – optional

New College of Florida — optional

New York University – required

Northeastern University (MA) – required

Pennsylvania State University — required

Rutgers University (NJ—Camden, New Brunswick and Newark) — required

Texas A&M University — required

United States Air Force Academy (CO) — required

University at Buffalo (NY) – optional

University of Connecticut – optional

University of Delaware – required

University of Florida — required

University of Minnesota Twin Cities – required; also uses CA Courses/Grades Report

University of North Florida — optional

University of Oregon – also uses CA Courses and Grades Report (need to submit only one of the two—not required to complete both)

University of Pittsburgh (PA) – required

University of Rhode Island — required

University of South Florida — required

University of Tennessee Knoxville – required

University of Texas Arlington — required

University of Texas San Antonio – required

University of West Florida — required

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) – required

***Please be sure to check with each individual college website to determine if this information remains current***

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How Applications Are Changing After the Supreme Court Ruling

How Applications Are Changing After the Supreme Court Ruling

New essay prompts, the review of fewer activities, no more checkboxes….lots of news!

Read more here and here

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Common Application Refresh Starts Today, 7/27, at 5pm Eastern

Common Application Refresh Starts Today, 7/27, at 5pm Eastern

Application refresh dates. The system refresh begins this afternoon (July 27), which will conclude the 2022-2023 application season. The first-year application will close to applicants and recommenders at 5 pm ET on July 27, 2023. The transfer application will close to applicants and recommenders at 5 pm ET on July 28, 2023.

Account rollover. You can roll over your account on August 1. For more details about how account rollover works, reference the Solutions Center for frequently asked questions and tips in the application guide for first-year and transfer students. 

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Common Application Rollover

Common Application Rollover

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

For more details about how account rollover works, reference our Solutions Center for frequently asked questions and tips in our application guide for first-year and transfer students. 

Application refresh dates. Mark your calendars for our system refresh dates, which will conclude the 2022-2023 application season.

    • The first-year application will close to applicants and recommenders at 5 pm ET on July 27, 2023.

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10 Do’s and Don’ts for Writing The Common Application Essay

10 Do’s and Don’ts for Writing The Common Application Essay

Our essay experts know best. Check out these 10 tips from Emma that will help you write the most effective personal statement.

Interested in completing your college essays this summer?  Summer is the best time to tackle this important essay, so start coming up with a plan now! Contact us.  

  • Don’t worry about the prompts. It’s helpful to read through the prompts to see if doing so sparks any ideas; however, there is no need to stress about writing an essay that exactly “answers” a prompt. Your goal is to write the best essay you can about whatever you decide is best to write about. Working with students 1:1, we totally disregard the prompts and usually find that their essay still easily fits under one of the questions. And, if not, there is often an open-ended prompt such as: “Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.”
  • Do open with a scene. A strong opening scene draws the reader into your essay. Admissions officers and their first-round readers have hundreds of applications to get through—make yours stand out from the first sentence. Intrigue them or scare them or make them laugh. Make them want to keep reading.
  • Do focus on a single story. You only have 650 words. Perhaps that sounds like a lot to you: it’s not. There is no reason you should worry about filling it up. Through our process, you will find out how to generate enough detail to write an essay about any story. Nor should you worry about cramming as much as possible into the personal statement. Remember that colleges have all of your application data and that trying to do too much in the essay will only end up making your essay feel rushed and scattered.
  • Do make sure that your story has a clear beginning, middle, and end. You can tell your story out of order—for instance, opening with a scene from a stressful moment in order to build suspense before jumping back into chronology—but you always want to make sure your story has each of these elements. Skipping any single one will confuse your reader and make your story feel incomplete (because it is!).
  • And yet don’t get bogged down in detail. We usually find students have trouble generating enough detail. But sometimes we get a student who is unable to summarize effectively, too. Having too much detail can make your story confusing and also mean that your reader will have trouble understanding what the most significant elements are. It usually also means you don’t have room for reflection—the most important element in the essay!
  • Do present yourself in a positive light. We actively encourage you to tell a story that showcases your vulnerabilities, failures, weaknesses, and mistakes. However, either your narrative or your reflection (or some combination of the two), needs to ultimately redeem you so that your essay, in the end, shows you to be someone who is actively working to improve—to rectify mistakes, move past failures, or strengthen weakness. Your essay should be honest, but its main purpose is to make you seem like someone admissions officers want to see at their colleges! Make sure you come off well.
  • Don’t use huge thesaurus words. Again: you aren’t trying to impress the admissions officers! You are trying to show them who you are—and you are trying to make them like you. Using big words can mean using words you don’t quite know how to use, and that will show. Even if you do know how to use them, unless your essay is about how much you love long words or languages, using the big, 25-cent words can make you sound pretentious and overly formal. The language should sound like you and be relatively casual—not curse-word, talking-with-friends casual, but maybe talking-with-your-grandmother casual.
  • Do use vivid, interesting words and varied sentence structure. Being casual doesn’t mean the writing shouldn’t be good or interesting! Do push yourself to use words you might not use in your everyday speech, and do mix up the sentence structure to keep the writing varied and exciting. Do feel free to include words from your personal vocabulary—words from the language you speak at home or from a regional dialect or words you’ve made up. That can add a lot of texture and personality to an essay. Just make sure you define the words for your reader if the meaning isn’t clear from context.
  • But don’t use emotional language: I was happy; I was sad. Instead, let an action depict the emotional state. That is, instead of saying “I was happy,” you might write, “I couldn’t help skipping a few steps down the street after hearing the news.” And, instead of saying “She was sad,” you might write, “Her shoulders slumped, and she cradled her head in her hands.” You can’t see an emotion, and you always want to give the reader something to see.
  • And don’t use cliche—i.e. common, predictable, overused—language. Cliche language includes (but is definitely not limited to!) phrases like:
    • I need to be true to myself.
    • Time heals all wounds.
    • Every cloud has a silver lining.
    • Good things come to those who wait.
    • I learned more from them than they did from me.
    • Every rose has its thorn.
    • You win some, you lose some.
    • Little did I know.

Of course, your essay might have one of these messages at its heart. Maybe you did learn more from the kid you tutored than they learned from you. Maybe you did find the “silver lining” in a terrible situation. Both of these could make for great essays. But you want to verbalize that realization in your own unique and surprising way.

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Common Application ‘How To’ Videos via AXS Companion

Common Application ‘How To’ Videos via AXS Companion

As you open a Common App account and work on the base data, you might find the following videos (created by the CA ‘AXS Companion’) helpful:
Please note this section is NOT required for all colleges: Completing Courses & Grades video
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High School Students: Use Your Summers Wisely

High School Students: Use Your Summers Wisely

Rising Seniors

Time flies, right? Hopefully, you’ve planned something interesting to explore your academic interests this summer. If not, there is still time! It might be too late for a formal summer program (a good thing, OK to skip these!) or linking up with a local faculty member to engage in research or work in their lab. Still, it is not too late to get a job and design an independent mini-project or community engagement activity. 

You will also want to spend time on your college application materials, so don’t feel like you need to fill your entire summer with a laundry list of activities. Instead, it is best to do one or two things that are well-thought-out and meaningful and leave time for app work and some relaxation before senior fall because it will be an insanely busy time for you! 

If you’ve finished or are nearly finished with the ACT/SAT, you might also want to consider starting your Common Application essay and completing the base data of your Common App this spring/early summer. If you are in need of essay guidance—shameless plug—grab a copy of The Complete College Essay Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Writing the Personal Statement and the Supplemental Essays. 

Rising Juniors

A big ticket item is preparing for and completing standardized testing. Take an ACT and SAT diagnostic and meet with a tutor to determine which test might be best for you, and then put a formal plan and timeline in place to prepare for that test. Junior year is no joke academically, and you’ll likely take the ACT or SAT more than once, so starting prep this summer is a good idea. 

Like rising seniors, hopefully, you’ve got something interesting planned to help you explore your academic interests. The same guidance above applies. Here’s why this is important: colleges aim to create diverse, well-balanced classes made up of students with a range of identities and academic interests. For this reason, most colleges will consider your major of interest when making admissions decisions—and you need to have coursework and extracurriculars that demonstrate your interest. For the most competitive majors (CompSci, business, engineering, pretty much anything STEM, to name a few), demonstrating a high level of understanding paired with experience gained outside of school is critical if you want to stand out as an application. This is, of course, on top of stellar grades and test scores.

If you don’t know what your academic narrative is, now’s the time to decide and work on developing it; if you’re lost on how, reach out

Rising Sophomores and Freshmen

Summers are for exploring! You could attend a pre-college program on a college campus, get a job, read, take free classes online, and volunteer. The key is to do something, or preferably, a few things! Get out there and get some experience and exposure—it’s how you figure things out. Make sure to write down everything you get involved. You’ll need a resume or activity sheet for college, and you can start it now. If you are fairly certain what you might want to study in college, pursue an opportunity this summer that helps tell that story. 

The school year can be a grind, and your “job” is getting the best grades you can while balancing the limited time you have to spend on extracurriculars with homework…and hopefully some sleep. No matter what year you are in high school, think of summer as a time to explore, recharge, and dip into (or dig deeper into!) what you might not have time for from September through May. 

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2023-2024 Common Application Essay Prompts

2023-2024 Common Application Essay Prompts

In case you missed it, Common App announced that the 2023-2024 essay prompts will remain the same. Past research shows that overall satisfaction with the prompts remains high among students, counselors, and member colleges.

They hope that by sharing the prompts now, students will have the time they need to reflect on their own personal stories and begin thinking about what they want to share with colleges. Now is a fantastic time to begin brainstorming for the Common App essay (aka the personal statement), especially if you have completed standardized testing or will be applying test optional. 

We’ll be posting plenty of essay tips and related content in the coming months, so stay tuned! You can also check out The Complete College Essay Handbook.

If you would like a complimentary copy for your school library or counseling office (or for yourself) please write to us

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