Friday, August 3, 2012

Tips for Completing the Common Application

The 2012-13 Common Application went live on August 1. While the deadlines for most private colleges aren't until fall or early winter, the best time to get started on your application is right now. The following tips can help you complete your Common App accurately and with a minimum of stress.

This article covers tips to get you started on the main application. Guidance for the main and supplement essays, teacher references, and other additional sections will be covered in future articles.

* Be sure the colleges on your list use the Common Application. The Common App has many  member colleges and is used by most private colleges. State colleges and universities and some private schools prefer to use their own applications. See if your colleges use the Common App by checking the list on their member page. You may also search for your colleges using the Common App search engine.

* Register for a Common App account and create a password. The information you enter on your account, including your main 500 word essay, will be sent to all of the colleges you specify. Some colleges will also have supplement essays, which ask you address questions specific to their school.

* READ AND FOLLOW ALL DIRECTIONS. This cannot be stated strongly enough. Failure to follow directions can seriously compromise your application.

* Verify the requirements for the schools on your list. Be sure you meet and have the materials to support all the requirements.

* Get a copy of your most recent high school transcript and your SAT/ACT scores. It's very important that the information you enter on the Common App is correct. Don't trust your memory as to your exact grades or GPA. If you have taken AP or Honors courses that offer additional grade points (possible 5 instead of 4 grade points) report your weighted GPA.

* When reporting your test scores, use the highest individual scores you have earned so far, even if they are from different test dates.

* List the courses you are currently planning to take in senior year. If your schedule changes significantly, especially in terms of the academic classes you end up taking, be sure to notify the individual colleges to which you are applying. Typically, this isn't a big deal, but if you take a less rigorous academic class than you indicated on the application, it's best to let the colleges know.

* In the Writing section, you are asked to choose one of seven prompts and compose an essays of up to 650 words. The essay matters! Be thoughtful in your choice of prompts and compose an essay that is an authentic and reflective exploration of who are you and who you want to be.

* There is an additional information section that you may use to let colleges know about any special circumstances you might have. Typically, this means special education needs/accommodations, significant life challenges, or health needs. It is not simply additional space to use for essays, work samples, references, or anything else you feel you don't have space for in the main application.

* If there has been a bump in your academic road and you have a disciplinary history, be sure to report it by checking the appropriate bubble. There is no point in trying to evade this reality; it will likely be revealed in your counselor and/or teacher evaluations, and if you fail to report disciplinary incidents, it could be grounds for a college to revoke your admission. Use the opportunity to attach an explanation of the incident, focusing on what you learned from the experience. The guidance of a supportive teacher or counselor can be very useful in composing a thoughtful, honest explanation.

* Proofread, proofread, proofread! If possible, enlist at least two other people to read your application and help double-check the information you've provided.

Check back in the coming days and weeks for detailed guidance on other aspects of the Common Application, including the very important main essay and supplement essays.

Stay focused, pay attention to details, and don't procrastinate! Good luck!

Those seeking personal guidance in crafting their Common Applications may contact me for further information.

t: 510.205.2898


carmenportas said...

Thank you for sharing your insights,your tips are very helpful for those who want to make an Application and earn an online degree education.

Karen Baker said...

Thanks for sharing this information. Since most of the students have lack o knowledge in how to organize a perfect essay during their academic life. So here you did a great job for the successful completion of their academic assignments.
admission essay writing service