Applying to College 4 – The Common App
Ah, this one’s a word I’m not allowed to say on this site. The Common App. It’s better fodder for a horror movie than any amount of creepy little dead girls. It will haunt your nightmares. But ofcourse, I’m right here to save the day. You’re welcome.
The “Common Application for Undergraduate College Admission” is it’s full name, but it’s friends just call it the “Common App”. It comes out every year ‘roundabouts August 1st for the fall admissions cycle. Remember, Early deadlines are near Nov. 1 and Regular Decisions around Jan 1st, so you have plenty of time if you plan properly.
The Common App consists of a few different sections – your details, your essays, your supplements for individual schools, and your recommendations and transcripts. Your school officials will add in those last ones.
Once you create an account, choose your schools from the “Search for Colleges” section. (Exciting!) Check the list of schools that use the Common App here. Some schools don’t use the Common App, e.g. all the UCs.
Invite your counselor and teachers using the “School Forms” section on the Common App left menu. You’ll need their email addresses, or they can mail the letters directly to each and every school you apply to. (Yeah, I recommend online)
The smart thing to do is to shamelessly ingratiate yourself with your college counselor. If your school doesn’t have one, any senior official can fill out the counselor’s forms for you. Pick one who likes you and can write good rec letters. Same goes for at least two teachers – Make sure they can write well, and they like you.
give them a list of your details, accomplishments, awards
It’s always a good idea to give them a list of your details, accomplishments, awards, grades and other things you’d like them to include on a letter. Just for reminders. Also, tell them how long it should be. You’re technically not allowed to see the letters, so this gives you control over the content. The letters shouldn’t be addressed to anyone in specific because they’ll go to every school you apply to.
Now pester them every day until the little on the invited officials page says “submitted”. School officials are really busy people – have them start as early as possible to make sure they put some thought and effort into your letters.
That’s really the hardest part.
You also have to get your transcripts and records to your counselor so he/she can upload them directly to the app. Usually the counselor will already have them, or the school will email them along. However, it never hurts to check that he/she has all your records at hand. Also, get at least three attested hard copies of your transcript – you’ll need these later.
Remember, the counselor adds the transcripts, not you.[/pullquote_left]
Note – for non Common App applications, the process is similar, except you often have to mail the recs/transcripts yourself. In this case, get hard copies of everything. Otherwise don’t bother.
One more thing that’s usually helpful is to directly mail the school any additional rec letters you may have. These could be from that internship I was talking about. There isn’t a space on the app to upload these – just mail/fax directly to the college, and label it “Supplementary Rec Letter“.
The other sections – Future Plans, Family, Demographics, even the Supplements- can be filled in one determined afternoon. Next week though, I’ll tell ya how to make it interesting reading. And ofcourse, there’s the essay(s)!
Till next time!