By Annamarie Brachfeld, Monumental Beginnings*
School’s almost over, and juniors are heaving a big sigh of relief! Junior year was a grind and summer is just around the corner, but bear with us, and take a minute to think about college applications. If you aren’t already familiar with the Common Application, you soon will be. It’s good to know why starting that sooner rather than later is a good idea.
What is the Common Application and do I need to use it? The Common Application is one application that is used by over 800 colleges in the US. You don’t have to use it to apply to a college (although some schools will state on their website that they prefer it.) Through the Common Application you can apply to several schools with just one application.
Do I really only need to write one essay? The Common Application essay is a longer essay, and the first essay you should write. Most colleges will also have additional shorter essays that are related specifically to their college.
I’ll write that essay the first week of senior year won’t I? You may, and that essay will probably be fine, but your teachers may not have the time to give you feedback, and work with you on revision. Once school starts you won’t have time to really consider carefully and revise your essay either.
But Colleges don’t really read those do they? Oh, they do! Even if a college uses gpa and test scores to decide on initial admission, they use the essay to make other decisions, including eligibility for scholarships. You can count on admissions counselors reading your essays. They can also tell when an essay has been overly edited, copied and pasted from somewhere else, and even if someone else wrote it for you. They are not looking for perfection; they are looking for a reflection of who you really are!
When Should I get started? Summer before your senior year is a great time to start your Common Application and essay, it takes some time, and it should be completed in a thoughtful and careful way. You can complete the main sections of the application and essay before you know to which colleges you will apply.
That early? Why? As they say, the early bird gets the worm. Students who apply early action or even just get their applications in early may be first in line to be considered for scholarships. Also, junior year was stressful, but senior year is busy! The less you have to do when it starts, the better; not to mention the time off you will have come winter break when your friends are trying to get their applications done!
Should I get help with it? Doing the common app by yourself is going to take some time, ask for help from family, especially if you have a hard time staying on task or you tend to procrastinate. Working with a consultant is a great idea as well. A college consultant can help you figure out which colleges are the best for you and is an expert at helping students put together an application that shows them in the very best light. A consultant who does essay coaching can make sure you show that unique and wonderful side of yourself in your Common Application essay.
*Monumental Beginnings is a comprehensive college admissions consulting service offering SAT/ACT prep, essay coaching, and college application advising.