College Admissions Guidance

Blog posts about college admissions topics such as essays, extracurriculars,  planning, mental health, etc.

Make the time to carefully write the Common App

application strategy essays extracurricular activities future planning senior year Sep 21, 2021
It's not just about the essays... there are subtle parts to the common app that students should make the time to review way ahead of time and have an advisor review the details. These small things matter, trust me.  Read on...
How long does it take to complete the Common App? Write The Common App Essays (20-30 hours)
Now it comes time to actually fill out your college applications. When you submit the Common App, you will need to use the essays to showcase who you are and why you stand out from other applicants

What counts as activities on Common App? 
What qualifies as an activity? According to Common App, “activities may include arts, athletics, clubs, employment, personal commitments, and other pursuits.” In other words, pretty much anything pursued outside the classroom qualifies as an activity.

Activities writing strategies
  1. Do not repeat words from the position description box in the activity description box. ...
  2. Focus on quantifiable and significant impact. ...
  3. List tasks and avoid complete sentences to make room for more detail. ...
  4. Describe current activities using present tense.

How to write an amazing activity in your activities list:
  1. State role and organization name in top box.
  2. Emphasize tangible, measurable impact.
  3. Use active verbs!
  4. To save space, use lists and cut extra words. No need for complete sentences.
  5. Aim for variety.
  6. Avoid extreme language.

​Can you review your Common App after submitting it?

You can make any number of changes to your Common App essay — and any other component of your application — once you've submitted it. ... If you want to make changes to an essay you've already submitted to an institution, you will need to contact that school's admissions office to see if it's possible.

How can my advisor preview my application?
If you are working with an Advisor, you can allow them to see a PDF preview of your in-progress application. Once you've invited an Advisor, you will see an 'Enable Preview' option beneath their name.

Is it better to apply through Common App or directly?
A: The Common App is a powerful tool, so use it!
Even more helpful, you can fill out The Common Application once and send it to any of the 456 Common App schools. This is a huge time saver. Don't be afraid that colleges will pay less attention to The Common App than their own application—they won't.