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Lazing around in July is a thing of the past for rising seniors. Nowadays, it is prime time to begin drafting college applications. Most schools (aside from certain schools such as the University of California) utilize the Common Application. But don’t underestimate the need to get on this early and to do a GREAT job so you can get the most universities interested in who you are and what you have to offer!
The Common App
By way of background, the Common Application is an undergraduate college admission application that applicants may use to apply to more than 800 universities in 49 states, as well as in Canada and some international schools. The site boasts that “No other system matches the diversity of colleges and universities accessible through the Common App”. While the Common App is not the only method of applying to colleges and universities, it is certainly the most widely used. You can access a full list of schools that use the Common App to get a sense of the reach of this unique portal.
School Specific Supplements
Some of the participating schools utilize supplemental application sections in which students may need to write additional essays, provide additional recommendations, or enter more information into a separate portal. When you apply to a college through the Common App, the list of required supplemental materials will be found under that specific school’s section in the application. A great way to deal with the supplemental sections efficiently is to create a spreadsheet that tracks what each school needs and when it is due.
Creating Your Account Before August
The newest addition of the common app becomes available August 1st every year. However, experts recommend that students create an account using the Common App website before August so that your information will roll over to the latest application cycle. This way, students can input all their general information (name, birthday, social security, high school information, etc.), and get a handle of what is required so that you have time to gather it, look it over, and ensure it is correct before the new cycle begins.
Completing the Common App
It is recommended that students give themselves at least 6 weeks to fully complete the common application. The first week or so should be dedicated to filling out the extensive student profile section, which requires a decent amount of information, such as the parents’ academic and employment history, a timeline of the student’s extracurricular involvement, any noteworthy awards and achievements, academic records, and a whole lot more! After that, the student will need to write out what is essentially their personal statement, in the form of a 650 word response to an essay prompt.
Crafting the Common App Personal Statement
The 2019-2020 Common Application Essay Prompts can be found here. The topics are exactly the same as those from 2018-2019! These prompts run the gamut of suggested topics, and provide applicants with the flexibility to tell their personalized stories in their own unique voices. It is also the student’s opportunity to paint a true portrait of themselves that extends beyond their standardized test scores and their high school academics. A great way to begin the storycrafting process is to take inventory of all your passions and achievements in recent years and see if any noteworthy experiences fit into one of the prompts. But make sure not to repeat yourself when you start to submit your school specific supplements!
With the wide range of expectations that the Common App places on a student, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, or run into problems. If you find yourself in a situation where you are stuck on any section of the Common App, contact Write Track! We offer a proprietary CAPP Service (College Application Preparation Process) where we provide you with support and guidance ranging from story crafting to school selection and everything in between, starting with strategizing for the Common App!
Aly Hartman | Write Track Communication Officer