The Common Application (Common App for short) is used by more than 600 colleges for admissions across the U.S. If you’ve got a rising senior, chances are he’ll need to submit it for at least one of the schools on his college list.
This one-app-for-many-schools resource is uber-convenient!
The Common App opens for the 2017-2018 season on August 1, but starting early is key to making it as impressive to admissions officers as possible. Not to mention it’ll be a whole lot less stressful on you and your kid.
Work with your teenager on these tips for organizing and preparing to complete the best possible Common App this summer.
1| Download the College Application Worksheet template.
This template will help your teen keep perfect track of the application process for each of the colleges he’s applying to. It’s a great tool to keep track of everything he needs to do when preparing for and submitting applications to colleges.
Click here to access both the Google Spreadsheets and Excel versions of the worksheet: College Application Worksheet template
2| Have a firm list of colleges to apply to.
It’s important for your teen to know which colleges he’ll apply to. If he’s unsure, this is the time to narrow down those college options to a list of 5-8 schools.
3| Understand admissions requirements for each college.
Not all colleges have the same admissions requirements, so it’s important to know exactly what’s expected for each. The best place to find this information is on each college’s website on the admissions pages.
Questions to consider:
- Does the school use the Common Application, or does it require an application unique to the school?
- Does the school require supplemental essays separate from the Common App essays?
- How many letters of recommendation are required? Does the school have restrictions about who can write one?
- What are the application deadlines for the school?
- Which college entrance exam score reports should be sent to the college (ACT, SAT, SAT Subject Tests)? What are the deadlines for taking those exams?
4| Review the application well in advance.
Knowing what’s on the application will help to formulate a timeline for getting all of the information, documents, essays and other requirements ready.
In fact, have your teen create a Common App account now to know exactly what is expected, and start completing some of the basic profile and demographic information. Although the Common App opens on August 1 each year, the information your teen enters now will roll over from year to year, with just a few exceptions.
5| Set up a timeline to complete everything.
The worst thing your kid can do is to wait until the last minute to get everything in. Completing it in chunks rather than all at once is important, too. It’s a doozy of an application, so pacing is important.
Your teen should know the application deadlines and work backwards to create a plan to finish and submit all of the supplementary materials that are required. Allotting time on the calendar and setting reminders are good strategies.
And importantly, the college essay alone takes a very large amount of dedicated time to thoughtfully complete. This is such a key piece of the application – it allows your teen to represent himself in a great way to each school outside of what he can say anywhere else on the form. It’s a best practice to make sure the college application essay is completed over the summer before senior year starts. Read How to Help Your Teen with the College Essay for more help in determining an essay timeline over the summer.
6| Proofread, proofread, proofread.
Help your teen go over the application to be sure there are no mistakes before sending them to each school. Having at least one other set of eyes on all parts of the college application is essential to ensure everything’s in tip-top shape!
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