"Should I use the common application?" ,one of the questions we hear often.
Our answer is “Yes,” but with a few caveats. The Common Application was created in order to eliminate a lot of the ‘busy work’ involved in applying to college; take advantage of it. Colleges pay a fee to be a member of the Common Application. If they didn’t believe in it, they wouldn’t pay to be a member. That said, cavalier use of this application is not in anyone’s interest. Do not use it to over-apply, but do use it as a timesaving tool, noting that each application can and should be personalized for each college. Use the Common Application in conjunction with a thorough investigation of the school, which may include a visit, a letter indicating interest, and an interview, among other things. When applying E.D. or E.A., use the school’s own application. The Common Application should never be the first point of contact between you and that school. Make sure that you tailor each application as much as possible to each individual school through the essay or personal statement. Also, double- or triple-check your applications to make sure that the right school is getting the right application. Finally, most colleges require a supplement to the common application, and these can be downloaded from the college’s page or the Common Application website. While some colleges say their supplement is optional, the reality is that your application looks better when you complete “optional” material.
After the Application is Mailed
This is usually a very trying time for students and families. You’ve done all the work, you’ve written a great essay, and you’ve gotten it all off in the mail well before the deadline, (We hope!!) Now what? Other than E.D./E.A. applications, which usually take 4-6 weeks to process, most regular decision college applications take anywhere from 8-12 weeks, depending on the volume of mail, data processing and reading procedures, and number of personnel on the college side. This time, when things are “up in the air,” can be daunting for seniors. Here are some tips for making it through these months and weeks:
And finally the time comes for the news to arrive.
Thousands of students race to the mailbox, log-on to websites, call a dedicated phone line and the next few moments can feel like an eternity. When you get good news--and you will--celebrate! But also, be considerate of those around you who may not have heard the good news you have. Still, be joyful. It’s a wonderful accomplishment to earn a place in college.
The key to how you will handle disappointing news is, of course, linked to the advice early in the process. Don’t apply to a college you don’t want to go to. If you follow this advice then whatever comes down the pike will simply be a decision. The bad news may sting and disappoint, but it won’t devastate. And it shouldn’t. So, focus on what your choices are rather than what they are not.
But can one always ‘move on?’ Not always. You may be angry, sad, confused, jealous—maybe all of the above. Yet, after some time passes you will put these decisions in their proper context, and hopefully you will understand them as part of a process, and not just the college process, but the process of growing up, finding a path to follow and looking for opportunity. In the face of college disappointment there are lots of people who will be in your corner: parents, college counselors, teachers, advisor, and friends.
Because students are making more applications each year, and because colleges are much more conscious of their yield rate, students are finding themselves on wait lists more than ever. If this happens to you, take heart. Each year, we see many students accepted from waitlists, and we encourage you to take the following steps to enhance your chances:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.