Jeez, school just freakin’ ended and you’re hitting me with THIS? Take a chill, Mr. Intense—er, Dr. Intense—would you?
Actually, I was going to offer YOU that very advice, especially if you have the type of parents who want your whole application done the day after your last final exam (hey, try to keep in mind how much they love you :-)).
Rising seniors absolutely should take a chill for a while after surviving the year-long educational torture chamber we call junior year. Having said that, we also STRONGLY suggest that you get as much work done on your CommonApp (or applications to individual schools that don’t accept the CommonApp) as possible before school re-opens in the fall; and the good news is…if you plan your work and manage your time well, you will have plenty time to chill AND get this accomplished. How should you plan and get most of your CommonApp done before school re-opens? Great question, glad you asked.
Let’s start with an extremely important warning: while you should register a username and password at CommonApp.org so you can SEE all the various components and wordings of questions, DO NOT SAVE ANYTHING TO THE SITE BEFORE AUGUST 1, as it will be wiped out during the CommonApp’s annual server cleaning. But don’t use their data purging as an excuse not to get anything done before August, since you can save your work as Word or Pages documents to be copy and pasted on the CommonApp when it goes live AFTER August 1.
The THREE major CommonApp components we recommend you get done before school opens are, IN THIS ORDER, your Activities list, your 1000-character (note that says CHARACTER, not WORD) Extracurricular blurb, and your Personal Essay. Together, these three components are your primary means to pain a more complete picture of who you are than can be done in the fill-in-the-blank and drop-down menu sections that precede it. I have written in greater detail about all three of these elsewhere and won’t repeat my advice here (see links below).
Note, too, that these are the three major pieces of your application that go to EVERY SCHOOL to which you’re applying via the CommonApp, and, consequently, they are the most important components and why we recommend you tackle them FIRST. Once these three are behind you, you’ll have only your Supplements to do, all of which don’t even come out till after September. However, the eager and the super well-organized CAN get a head start on Supplements, too, and tips on how best to tackle such typical questions as, “Why do you want to come this particular school,” will come out in future posts this summer.TER, not WORD) Extracurricular blurb, and your Personal Essay. Together, these three components are your primary means to pain a more complete picture of who you are than can be done in the fill-in-the-blank and drop-down menu sections that precede it. I have written in greater detail about all three of these elsewhere and won’t repeat my advice here (see links below).
I can’t stress enough how important these three major components—the Activities list, the Extracurricular blurb, and the Personal Essay—are to the bottom line of acceptances/rejections. Colleges only get to know you through your application, so it must be done with the utmost care. And as for the professional help we offer at CPE, Application Packaging gives you the biggest bang for your college-prep buck.
We off Application Packaging services for private students, small groups for you and your friends (typically 2-6), and CommonApp Boot Camps. Don’t be shy about asking for help. That’s why we’re here, to help! You’ll be glad you did when your acceptance letters come next December and April!
CPE Blog Posts:
- Attention Underclassmen and Parents: CommonApp 101 & Hot Tips for Extracurrics
- 4 Tips to Make Your CommonApp Uncommon
- Mash-ups, Texting, and The CommonApp Activity Blub
- Two Ways to Choose a Personal Essay Topic
- Application Packaging: Three Helpful Hints in Choosing a Personal Essay Topic
Related CPE “Prep Talks”