3 Reasons You Can't Delay Filling Out the Common App
The Common App is LIVE! Every year on August 1st, college counselors nationwide collectively take a deep breath as they step into the next application cycle. It’s a time of great hope and promise, but also it’s a time of significant angst and anxiety for teens. I often see students who are confused about how to approach the Common App in particular, and specifically where to begin. In my experience, that kind of confusion leads to procrastination. When we don’t know where or how to start, often we put off starting at all. Then it’s too late.
But here’s I want you to know: it’s so important to start NOW. The key to acing your applications is to start early. Even if you just answer one section–or even a simple question–per day, you’re doing something. Here are the three biggest reasons why you should start the Common App right away.
The Best Antidote to Overwhelm
The sooner you start to fill out the Common App (or any application), it goes without saying that the longer you have to plan. Let me give you this one piece of advice: Planning ahead is, in my experience, the #1 way to diminish stress and anxiety, and if you haven’t already realized it, there’s plenty of stress and anxiety wrapped up in the college application process. Starting to understand the requirements (test score reporting policies, interview policies, deadlines, etc.) to apply to each college early on can give you time to come up with a system of organization, which will help you to stay on track and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. Do one small thing each day. Even if you simply fill in your name one day and your address the next, you’re making small steps toward the finish line–the best antidote to overwhelm!
More time to Work on—and Perfect—Essays
Essays—both your personal statement and supplemental essays for each school—comprise a critical part of your application and your overall profile. In the wake of our test optional landscape as a result of COVID 19, essays are generally becoming all the more important. Considering that you want to put your best foot forward in your applications, these are not the type of essays that you write the week before they’re due, much less the night before. In my experience, a personal statement goes through many revisions before it’s in excellent shape. Plan to write several—and sometimes many—supplemental essays detailing things like why you want to attend each school to which you are applying. Those essays take a great deal of time to research. In addition, the essay topics vary from school to year (and from year to year at any given school) so finding out the essay topics early on will help you to write essays that truly help you to stand out.
Beyond simply chipping away at your essays over time, it’s also important to know about the existence of “stealth essays.” Stealth essays are essays that pop up only after you answer a particular question. For instance, a college might ask on its Member Page, “What do you want to major in?” Only after you answer that question might you unlock an entirely new essay (that you previously didn’t see!) asking you why you chose that major at that school. If you wait until the last minute to go through each college’s questions on the Common App, you’d find yourself rushing to write a very important essay only hours or minutes before it’s due.
So, now that you know why you should get started on the Common App now, you might be wondering how to navigate it, and you might also be wondering how to put your best foot forward. I've got you! I have created a FREE ultimate guide to the Common App to help you approach your college applications with confidence..
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- A comprehensive overview of the Common App, its structure, and its purpose
- Step-by-step walkthrough of the Common App with screenshots
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