Seven Savvy Strategies for Conquering the Common App

On August 1, the Common Application went live. Seniors: Now is the time to start filling out your college applications. The Common Application can be used to apply to more than 900 universities and colleges in the U.S. and abroad. 

Keeping organized is the best way to complete the Application. Here are some tips from the college advisors at International College Counselors. And remember, if you need any help with completing your applications from a results-driven approach, contact us.  
1. Keep track of your account information 
For your Common App account, you must create an account using an email address and a password. The password includes an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number, and a special character. Write down the password and the email address you use to register. Be sure to register with an email that you can access as colleges will use that email to contact you.  
2. Make your Common App essay and supplemental essays great
Most colleges require students to write at least one essay (the Common App essay, also known as the Personal Statement) as part of the application process. The 2020-21 Common App offers a choice of seven essay prompts, which can be found here. In addition to the Common App essay, we strongly recommend that students write all supplemental essays even if the college says that they are optional. Optional essays are not really optional; not answering them sends a negative message about work ethic and interest in the college. If you need help writing the Common Application essays or the supplements, even if you’re not a client of international College Counselors, we offer individualized essay help through our sister company, Edit the Work.  
3. Track your progress on the Common App
Students can preview each part of their Common App, screen by screen, to make sure they’ve completed each of the sections. By checking the Dashboard, students can keep track of their entire progress. When you have completed and submitted all the college’s requirements, you will see a green checkmark and the word “Complete” next to the college on the Common App. When the ENTIRE Common App is complete, the last step is to click “Review and Submit.” Have a credit card ready to pay the application fee.
4. Use a calendar for all dates and deadlines.
Deadlines are not flexible. You must complete your entire application by the college’s deadline. Consider using an old-fashioned wall or desk calendar in a “can’t miss” location. Alternatively, program deadlines into your phone, and set up alerts as the deadlines approach. 
5. Start a folder for each college of interest.
A virtual or physical folder will keep all the printed materials, notes, correspondence, passwords, and photos together. 
6. Print records and take screenshots
Whenever you send an email to a school or interviewer, or receive a response, print it out and add it to the folder. Take screenshots of completed applications and confirmations. One of our students used a screenshot to prove his application was not late…and it worked! It’s best to keep all this together. 
7. Set manageable goals.

Do not plan to complete the application in one night or even one weekend. It’s going to feel overwhelming, and chances of making mistakes will increase exponentially. Set dates for contacting teachers, counselors, and coaches who are writing recommendations. Start now, if you haven’t already, and set time aside to really work on your essays.  Proofread the application multiple times before you send it, and have someone else proofread it as well.

For help with the Common App, essays, or anything else pertaining to college admissions, please call or email us at International College Counselors: [email protected] or 1-954-414-9986. 
Upcoming Writing Workshop
Effective and Efficient Academic Writing 
Mondays & Thursdays – Starting in September 
In this workshop students will learn the stages of essay writing, how to plan and write an essay from outline to end, how to form thesis statements, how to express ideas clearly and more. Open to students in grades 9-12.
Cost: $250
For questions and more information about the writing workshop, contact [email protected]