Applying with the Common App
CollegeAdvisor.com (formerly Bullseye Admissions) presents its panel on Applying with the Common App in a 60-minute presentation and Q&A with a Bullseye Advisor. Our presenter will provide information about why to apply with the Common App, how to optimize the academics and activities sections, how to request teacher recommendation letters, and more. Our advisor will share their experiences on applying with the Common App to show you how to best use the portal and answer your Common App questions.
2020-07-07 Applying with the Common App Webinar
[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Bullseye admissions webinar on applying with the common app portal. This is our fifth webinar of our college app series. And to just orient everyone a little bit with the webinar timing and different chat tabs, I’ll start off with a presentation to help you get familiar with the common app.
Then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download our slides in the handouts tab, and you can start submitting questions in the Q and a.
So to introduce myself a little bit. My name is Iris. I’m a bullseye advisor and I’m an incoming freshmen at Stanford. And I plan on studying computer science and economics. I also applied to college twice. So the first time as a junior in high school, and the second time as a senior in high school. And when I was junior, I wasn’t very successful with college [00:01:00] applications.
But then I changed my strategy a lot for senior year, and that helped me get into Stanford in a lot of other top schools.
Also Lily here is here for tech support. So feel free to DM her if you have any tech issues. So without further ado, we’ll move into the presentation. All right. So all you guys are probably hearing, you’re wondering why you should apply with the common app. So the simple answer is that most schools don’t have their own application these days.
And so they require you to apply through a portal like the common application, the coalition application, or say they use these, they require you to apply through the UC applications. So the common app is just the most popular portal for almost every single school out there. And it hosts the most number of colleges.
So compared to coalition, QuestBridge and other applications, you’ll probably have the most luck just using the common app. And you just have to do it once and you [00:02:00] can apply to 20, 20 schools or however many schools you want to apply to.
The commonality chin is also most commonly known by counselors and teachers because it’s the most popular application out there. So they’re going to be familiar with submitting recommendations through the platform. So you don’t really have to worry about teaching them how to use the platform.
The common application also opens on August 1st, so that’s coming up pretty soon. So I would recommend all of you guys out there to just go into the common application. Now you can make an account and preview to see what it looks like and all the different tabs that there are. But don’t fill things out until it opens because everything that you do fill out right now will be refreshed and cleared on August.
Now there are several different sections of the common app. So I’ll give an overview on the slide and then we’ll dive a little deeper throughout the presentation. So first there’s the profile and then the family, and then [00:03:00] education testing, activities, writing courses and grades, and then the courses in grades.
I find that most people don’t actually fill out that tab. Only if you’re applying to a very specific school that requires it like USC. You don’t have to fill that. All right. So our first section that we’re going to talk about is the profiles and family section. So this is probably the most straightforward tab of all of the common app.
So you just fill it out as if you’re filling out your contact or personal information, whether it’s like to the hospital or the bank, you just be very honest with it and just state some facts. You might need your parents to help you fill out some of the personal information, including their education background, current jobs, date of birth.
But for the most part, you should be able to handle this part pretty well just with your parents or on your own. Now the second section is education. So this part, it’s more catered to your unique applications. So there’s a lot of like check boxes Hey, have you [00:04:00] attended another high school?
And if you check, yes, there’s going to be another prompt that shows up and it’s going to be a required prompt. That’s going to be 250 words long, and you have to provide details about why you left each of the above secondary or high schools. So I find that some students get stressed about this, but really what these type would, these types of straightforward questions, just be direct, be honest and try to put everything in a positive light, but also don’t exaggerate or.
It just stayed at factually. And then there’s also a future plan section. So this is a great way for you to show interest in this, in a specific field. So say you want to be a doctor. Now, this is a place that you can put that there. But you’re also not bound to this career path.
So remember, this is a place for you to show interest, not to tie yourself to any one career path. So what I recommend to my students here at bullseye is that you try to pick something that is related to your application theme or narrative, because remember the application reader is [00:05:00] going to be reading everything from your profile sections, your education sections, your essays, and the education section can almost tie in with your essays in the sense that, you say that you’re interested in becoming a doctor, and then you write essays regarding medicine, and that kind of ties your application together in this cohesive narrative.
And that makes you more memorable. In the education section you can also list your awards and honors. Now this is really deceptive because I think a lot of students think awards and honors should be in the activities section, which we’ll get to, but it’s actually hidden in the education section, which is really weird, but you don’t have to list everything that is related to education.
So if you have a music award, you can still list it here. And I recommend that you order it from the most impressive to the least impressive. And from the most recent to the least recent. So for example, you can start with your 12th grade international honors and then move down to your ninth grade, local honors.
You also want to lead with impact [00:06:00] and competitiveness in the formatting. So you only get 150 characters to put down in every honor. So something that will lead with impact is something like global team leader parentheses selected out of 800 applicants. So that gives the admissions officer a little bit of context about what the award actually is, if they’ve never heard of it before.
And it also helps them see that, you won this thing that was pretty competitive. Now, moving on to the testing section again, you want to be honest about listing all of your tests sittings, and if the college super scores, they will super score on their end of the system, not the common application.
So even if you’re applying to schools that do super score, you still have to list all of your test settings in the common application. And then on their end, they will only see your highest scores from your highest. All right. So now we’re going to do a little bit of a poll. So the question for this one is, are you planning to use the common [00:07:00] app for your college applications?
Are you guys seeing the pool? Let’s see. Yeah, it’ll pop up on a delay. Oh, this is awesome. You guys are already sending in a lot of questions.
Amazing. 0% not using the common app. Not surprised. Come at webinars.
Okay. Awesome. So you guys should be able to see what everybody has said for the poll. Looks like a lot of you guys are going to be using the common application in addition to [00:08:00] some other pools. All right. Moving on to the activity activities section. So this is something that a lot of students I find stress over because you’re fitting your entire four years of extracurriculars into 250 characters and you only get to list 10 activities.
So first off don’t feel obligated to fill up all 10 spots. A lot of successful applicants to top schools only use five to eight spots because at the end of the day, it’s going to be the depth of your activities that matter more than the breadth of your activities. So quality over quantity.
And now with the 250 character word limit, you want to be as powerful and punchy as possible. So really leading. Quantities. So for example, if you impacted this many number of people, state that and meet with these qualifications as well. So any accomplishments that you achieved. So here, I just have an example for somebody who is [00:09:00] doing flute.
So if you say that your activity was playing the flute, this can be an example of what you put down. So again, leading with awards and something like two X that’s like a quantity. So just really exemplifies all of your accomplishments in 250 kids. Again, similar to the honors section. You want to order your activities from the most impressive or important to you, to the least impressive or important to you.
And so many applicants will have an application theme or a spike, and you want to lead with that and maybe even categorize everything that goes into your spike and the first couple of activities. That way admissions officer can read for this theme when they’re reading through the list.
So when they see 1, 2, 3, wow, it’s all related to computer science. It might be like, oh, this is somebody who’s interested in computer science. So always lead with the things that are most unique to you and that you have high achievement.
There’s also a section in the activities that [00:10:00] asks for your time commitment. So that’s going to be your hours per week and the week per year. So don’t stress about this part. Just calculate your best estimate for the time commitment, but also keep in mind like don’t over gas, no under gas too much.
Just give it your best guesstimate. And then also use powerful punchlines in the description. We went through this a little bit, but use numbers, drop awards, do not use full sentences and use abbreviations whenever possible.
So we went through an example of how to format your actuaries. But if you guys have any more questions about that feel free to leave it in the Q and a, and we can get it, get to it. In the second half of this presentation.
So this is what the activity tab looks like. You can see how you have an activity types. So things are like other club or activity there. Something like volunteering, some other things like [00:11:00] just different things you can choose from, to be honest, I don’t think the activity type matters that much just choose something that is most relevant.
And then you have a certain literal tab here for putting your description and organization name as possible. So in this case, the applicant just said, founder and executive director of C the voices, which is the organization. And then here you have the 150 character limits that where you can put your description of the activity.
And I recommend all students to work on this in a Google doc or something outside of the common application, and then pasting that into the common application. And then the participation grade levels and time of participation. I think that’s pretty, really straightforward. But if you have questions, just put them in the Q and a all right.
And now moving on to the writing section. For the common application specifically in the general comment app, there’s just one prompt, which is your personal essay. This is also probably known to a lot of people as the common [00:12:00] application essay. So it’s 650 words long, or that’s the character limit.
So you can go below that. But you can’t go over. So this essay is going to be sent to all colleges that you applied to. So every single college you put into your common application college list, you can choose out of seven prompts, including the last prompt, which is right on the topic of your choice.
So essentially this means that this essay can be on whatever you want it to be on, which means that a good recommendation for students is that you should just write the essay first and then pick the prompts later because the prompt is not going to be limiting as to the scope of what your essay is gonna be.
So here are the 20, 20 to 2021 common app essay prompts. You can just take a quick look if you haven’t already to see if any of them are particularly appealing. So usually what happens is that if you find that one of your if your essay doesn’t fit into the first six prompts, [00:13:00] so here’s the fourth one and the fifth one, then you can choose the last prompt, which is on a topic of your choice.
But usually if you find that it does fit into a prompt and put it there, so that it better gears the admissions officer to read something that is going to be relevant to the top. It’s almost like a foreshadowing. All right. So in the writing section, there’s also an optional, additional information section.
You can use it if you want. Accomplishments for extending any extenuating circumstances that you want to highlight, but definitely do not abuse this section. So what I mean by that is sometimes students will just write irrelevant things. That’s not going to really add to their application or just detours from their entire application theme in general.
And that just puts extra work on an admissions officer who is reading so many essays day in and day out. And if you just put something that’s not really relevant, they might honestly just get annoyed. So don’t abuse the section, but do use it strategically. [00:14:00] So again, you have 650 words and I recommend that you bullet point all of these to make it really skimmable.
So first you can explain extenuating circumstances. Then if any of those affected your high school course so don’t make it sound whiny, but focus on the positives. So how did you grow from your experiences? If an internship got canceled, how did you use that extra time to pursue another opportunity if your grades fell because of family instability or other responsibilities, how did you contribute to your family or your community and what type of what did you learn from these responsibilities?
You can also list extra awards or activities that did not fit into the activities list here, but again, don’t abuse this section, don’t just put 30 other activities here. They probably aren’t going to be relevant to your application. So just list the strong awards that you wish you had put earlier, but you just didn’t have the room for.
But don’t just add on things for the sake of [00:15:00] adding things on again, these lists than make it simple. All right. And now we’re going to talk a little bit about actually navigating on the common application. So you can add schools through the portal. And what you do is you go to the college search tab, you can enter a school’s name, and then you can add the school.
You can also remove a school at any time. So feel free to just add the schools to look at their prompts because the supplemental essay prompts will be shown in the school’s specific tab after you add the school. So you can add the school to look at their prompts, and then if you feel like, oh, I’m not actually going to apply, then you would meet the school.
Alternatively, you can also just go on the school’s website to check out their supplemental essay prompts. Most schools should have those listed. So as you can see here, this is the college search bar right here. And then when you have a specific school, you can see the writing supplement and then it will be listed under questions.
And then you’ll be able to see all the plans.
Right [00:16:00] now we’re going to do another quick poll. So how many of you guys are, how many schools are y’all planning to apply to?
We got one response for 12 to 14 schools.
Very interesting. Looks like many people are applying to eight to 11 schools.
And also if you’re not sure yet that’s totally. Okay. And just as a heads up at both sides, we recommend applying to between eight to 14 schools made up of two to four safety schools, three to five notch schools and three to five. This is to balance out the quality of your essays with your workload and the maximum number of schools you have, you can apply to with the common app is 20.[00:17:00]
Awesome. So it looks like everybody got a chance to do the poll and you guys can see what everybody else is planning to. Do. Awesome. All right. So now let’s talk a little bit about requesting recommendations through the common app. So w oddly enough, for whatever reason, you can only access the request recommendations from a specific college.
So you have to go to my colleges and then click on any specific college. So for example, I just put Stanford here and then you have to click on recommendations and for blacks. It’s recommended that you waived your FERPA rights and what FERPA rights are, is basically saying whether or not you can see the recommendation before it’s made.
So if you wave your FERPA rights, that means you can not see the recommendation. And this is recommended because usually how colleges view it is that if you’re able to see the recommendation, then that probably means a recommender was [00:18:00] pressured to write something good about you. So if you waive your FERPA rights and you’re not able to see it, so you have no idea where your recommender is going to say, and then your recommender gives you a positive recommendation.
We know that is an impartial and relatively unbiased version of what they have to say about you. So it’s their truth thoughts, no sense. And then once you invite recommenders from one school, you can select them for all of your other schools. So say you invited them under Stanford. You can just add on the recommendation to all of your other schools and the college tab and the mycologist habit.
And then most schools also recommend using one stem and one humanities recommendation, and they require a counselor or principal recommendation. So these can vary school to school. This is just a general, like most schools recommend this. So I would actually go in the schools tab and see how many they actually recommend.
Also there’s an option of submitting optional recommendations that you can definitely consider. It’s an option, but in no [00:19:00] means necessary.
And also to keep in mind is that you don’t have to submit every recommendation you received. So what I mean by this is that you can request recommendations from say five different teachers and five different teachers will submit your recommendations, your common app portal. However, it’s ultimately you at the end of the day, who submits the recommendation to the colleges.
So say for Stanford, you’ll pick peach teacher, a and B for those two rec letters. And then for, let’s say Vanderbilt, you pick P teacher B and C. So you ultimately get to choose what recommendation do you send for which high school?
So here’s just a general overview of what the recommendations tab looks like. Again, you click on the specific school and then you can click on recommend recommenders and FIRPA, and then you can invite recommenders and then usually give you a little update. Yeah. Recommendation requests sent and then like [00:20:00] recommendation submitted.
So you’ll actually be able to see when exactly your teacher submits wrap a recommendation. All right. And now we’re just going to close with a little bit of a pro tips and tricks section. A general tip is this the create a new email to associate with your common app accounts? And this is recommended because all of your colleges will be communicating with you via your accounts email.
So I find that just nice to have all my college emails coming to one account instead of like my personal email. Just so that I don’t miss anything. And also that just so that’s more. In a sense, and then also make sure that your email is going to be a professional or even related to one of your interests or activities.
So for example, a friend of mine applied with math physics [email protected] and he was applying for the physics major and he was accepted to Princeton as a physics major. So that’s just one little tip for boosting your application theme or spike that you’re trying to portray. You can [00:21:00] even do it through the email that you registered with that you associated with your account.
Another thing you can do is to use a preview function before somebody, and I think a hundred percent, you should definitely do this because I know some of my friends, they had trouble. With the, what are they called? I think they’re called like M dashes. Like you put them in as em, dashes, when you copy and paste, say from Google doc, but then when you preview, it actually becomes like a hyphen.
So it’s like super short and then it just makes it really difficult to read. So definitely take the time to preview your essays and everything you put in there on the PDF format, because that’s what the admissions officer is ultimately going to see. So just make sure that the formatting looks good if there’s extra spaces or anything get rid of them.
So definitely take the time to do that. And also just a heads up, like adjusting the formatting can honestly take an hour or maybe even longer. So if any of you guys are like procrastinators who are gonna submit at [00:22:00] 1159, definitely plan to have everything ready and get to go, but like definitely a few hours before, so you can check the formatting.
All right. And now we’re going to move on to. The questions and answers. So that is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. I hope you found these opportunities. Oh, wait. Yes. Okay. So I hope you found these slides helpful and remember that you can download the slides in the handouts tab, and now we’ll be moving on to the live Q and a where I’ll read through the questions that you submitted in the Q and a tab, and then I’ll paste them into the public chat.
So you guys can see it and then I’ll read them out loud before I answer them also as a heads up, if your Q and a tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just double check that you joined the webinar through the custom link in your email, not from the webinar link. All right. So let’s take a look at our Q and A’s.
So our first question. It’s going to be, when [00:23:00] is the common app do so this is very college independent. So there is no one deadline for the common application, but each school has their own deadlines. For one, you have to submit the common application. So for most early action or early decision schools, it’s going to be due on November 1st.
And also just to give you guys a sense of what’s going to happen is you will probably submit the common application first, which is one button you click submit. And then there’s confetti, that comes up. It’s like congrats. And then it tells you that you also have to submit the school’s supplement.
So that’s like a like an extra application that you submit through the common app portal. So it’ll instruct you in the comment app. Thank you for submitting the common applications you let’s say Stanford university, please make sure that you also submit the Stanford university. Before your school’s deadline.
So let’s say Stanford has their early action deadline. November 1st, you submit the common app first. But then you also have to submit the [00:24:00] supplemental. Would you still, also just, it’s just in the common app portal, but it’s just one extra button you have to click, so make sure you do that as well.
And then we’ll give you confetti again, once you submit that. Okay. Let’s see. Does QuestBridge use the common app or the coalition app? So actually QuestBridge is going to be its own application. So it’s a completely different portal. They, I think they even use some different policies and word limits.
So it’s just completely different. It’s a program and they also have their own portal. Should we try to apply to schools, wants to common app opens in August is earlier the better. The school deadline. I think the earliest deadlines will be in like October ish. And if you submit an application before let’s say the deadline, I’m pretty sure the admissions officers just won’t really, I actually, I don’t know I guess the answer [00:25:00] to this is, we’re not really sure.
We don’t really know what goes on in the admissions office, but just from what I’ve read online, it seems like at least for regular decision, because they’re so crammed reading early app early like application things like November and December, like when you submit it, say like December 1st for a regular deadline, that’s actually January 1st.
They’re not really gonna get to it until definitely mid to late December. And maybe start reading it in January. Oh. So usually before fall starts, admissions officers are on this recruiting trips, so to speak. So they’re not actually reading applications all year round. During off season, they’ll go around the country.
I’m not sure if that’s happening right now, but usually they’ll go around the country to speak to your schools and get students interested in applying someone else. What school do you go to? I’m just going to quickly say Stanford and then let’s see I’m an international student. What if my current school doesn’t know about the common application?
How [00:26:00] can I ask for their recommendation? So it’s totally okay. If your school doesn’t know about the common application, all you have to do is ask your teacher for a recommendation and say that you’re going to send them a request through the common application and tell them to look out for an email from the common application.
And I think it should be pretty straightforward. They can just access the portal from their email and be able to submit it through the portal. Let’s see, what changes did you make? Oh, sorry. Let’s Okay. Someone asked, what changes did you make your initial application when you apply to as a senior?
So this is not completely relevant to the common applications, UNH, so I’ll just like really quickly say it. But I think I just really focused on building an application spike or a theme. When should we try to finish our personal essay before school starts? Yeah, that is a huge recommendation by a lot of people I’ve met.
Who’ve had success applying to colleges, and I think it’s because senior year is[00:27:00] pretty heavy academically. And if you are going to be applying to over 10 schools that’s a lot of work for you. So just to balance that workload it’s better to start early in the summer and try to finish all your applications before school starts so that you’re less stressed out when school actually starts.
Let’s see. Should I send my common app letter of rec request to my teachers. Now, even if I’m not a hundred percent sure I’m going to send, I’m going to send their recommendation. So yes, I would recommend that you do request the recommendation, even if you’re not sure because just the fact that you actually get to choose which recommendation we send at the end of the day really gives you that opportunity to just get more recommendations that you actually send out so that if you’re uncertain now you can have that time to be indecisive and then choose later when you’re actually about to submit your application.
That’s something that I definitely did. [00:28:00] So for example, when I didn’t actually know what my application theme would be, I like requested, recommend recommendations from teachers who I thought could say good things about me, but then when I actually drilled in more on what I thought my theme would be, I basically used the recommendations that I knew that support my.
So even though the other letters were probably still good and positive, I really wanted to emphasize that theme. So I just chose the letters that did that. All right. Does using one spirit email rather than the primary one in common app affect us in any way? I’m not sure what you mean by spirit email, but I don’t think that the email address that you use will affect you in any way.
So per se I think they’re just so on your application, they’re going to see your email address, so they’ll be able to read it. So if it’s something like really childish or something, they’re probably going to assume that you’re not very mature, so just definitely make one [00:29:00] that’s professional. How do you know which recommendation letter to send out if you couldn’t read it?
So what happened was I would give my recommenders a quote, unquote cheat sheet for what they can write. So it was like an outline. The highlights that I wanted them to portray in their letter. And I knew that they were probably going to follow the outline because that’s less work for them if they just write it from an outline.
So I had a pretty general sense of what they were writing about and I would actually give them like specific stories or or moments that they could write about to like support points. So yeah, it was literally like an essay outline, and they were the person writing the essay and submitting it.
All right. Should I tell him, should I tell my teachers that are writing my letter of recommendation? My application theme. So yes, I think. So it’s always helpful to give your teacher more information than less, just so that they have a clear picture of who you are as an [00:30:00] applicant. And I think it definitely serves you well to tell them what your theme is, and explicitly ask them to support that theme so that it will show through the recommendation letter and help the admissions officer understand you better as an applicant.
Should the common app essay be reserved for showing personality through specific situations or with talking about larger events in life, for example, moving or weight loss and lessons learned, those would be good. So just general essay advice, I would say that you always want to go from specific story to larger renovations.
So don’t be very specific. And just talk about the lessons you’ve learned in life without supporting it with any examples. A common thing to say is show, not tell. But showing just means painting it with examples and stories. That’s showing what you learned. And then you can spend say 10% of your essay actually telling what you learned if you’d like, but really[00:31:00] you should be focusing on like specific stories and moments because those are, what’s supporting the larger point of your essay.
And it also helps you connect better with the admissions officer. Cause I think this as human beings, we’re more likely to connect with stories than we are to connect with a piece of dry academic writing or just explainers. I’d say if you just say I’m happy today, like nobody’s gonna really understand that.
So the more specific you are, the better you’re going to be understood. Is it okay to copy supplemental essays in there for different schools? The school is no I’ve used the same general supplemental essay for multiple colleges. So you can completely copy or supplemental essays for different schools.
But the downside to that might be that your supplemental essay won’t be that school specific so way that a school can tell that you’re submitting the same essay to multiple schools is that you’re just very [00:32:00] generalized. Say what the Y school essay, like you just say something super duper generalized, and then you could send it to all of your schools, but then the schools that receive it is not going to feel like they’re actually appreciated because it’s so generalized.
And then they don’t actually know that it’s individualized for them. It’s almost like a marketing email, right? Like a lot of the times we’ll just see this general. Piece of text and we’re like, oh, that doesn’t really apply to me or it’s too general. But then say your best friend writes a letter to you and refers to the specific moments that you guys have together.
That if anybody else read it, they would know that it’s not meant for them. So almost do that with your supplemental essays to specific schools, make it really catered to one school so that when they actually read it, they were like, okay, this person wrote it for us and not for another school.
Therefore they really value our school and we’ll consider them more highly as well. Why be affected if I do not fill out the additional information section? So no, you should not be affected. The additional information section is completely [00:33:00] optional. It’s not recommended. It’s optional.
Like sometimes schools will be like, oh, taking three sat, subject tests is optional. But like it’s still like strongly recommended, but for the additional rec additional information section is actually optional. Don’t feel pressure to fill it out at all. Do you feel that college acceptance process is based on luck at times?
Yes. A hundred percent. There is so much luck that goes into the process. At the end of the day, the schools are making decisions for who they think would fill their institutional needs the most. And sometimes you don’t actually know what those institutional needs are. So all you can really do is just present your best self and then they can pick and choose in a why school essay, what are some things you should mention to be specific about a certain school?
Great question. You can definitely reference specific programs that the school offers. That’s interesting to you. So any time that you’re using pronouns, so [00:34:00] like nouns with capitalization, like that’s when you know that you’re being specific enough, because it’s probably very specific to the school.
Other things that are specific would be like buildings or specific professors the city just think about things that are unique to the school and don’t just name, drop the specific stuff. Also support why that program or professor or the city relates to your interests in any way, maybe tie it together with your experiences.
Like a formula that I used in my supplemental essays was that I would. Refer to a personal experience I had and an involvement I had in some way. And then I would say, oh, and now I want to do that at Cornell through this program. And this program would enable me to do the same or carry that initiative one step further.
So I directly tied my personal experiences with what the school offered and made that connection.
All right. Would you mind sharing your [00:35:00] experience with college apps? I think those questions. It’s a good question. But maybe it would be better for a one-on-one advisor call. We have a, like a web of amazing advisors, but I think we all have different experiences with the college application process.
We probably all applied to D different numbers of colleges. So personally I applied to 20 it’s on the upper limit. And then with the personal essay I personally started about June, I would say. And then I like worked, it worked it until basically every single one of my deadlines.
And my first was November 1st, but then even between November 1st and then my second deadline, which is December 1st, I still edited the essay. So I think with essays, it’s really like arts, where there’s really no finish line. You can just keep editing. So that’s why it’s almost like an endless process.
But I think just know that once you reached to 90% of what you’re satisfied with, it’s probably not gonna make or break your [00:36:00] application at all. Like adding that extra comma or not adding the comment is probably not gonna matter at the end of the day. Okay, so for the why school essay, should we focus on one main topic?
For example, business programs, where many, for example, art sports culture, econ classes, et cetera. So I think it does really depends on the prompts link. So for something like a 250 word supplemental essay, you probably don’t have enough room to focus on three different topics. But if it’s 650 words, which I know Cornell supplemental essay is 650 words, then maybe for every paragraph, you can focus on one specific offering that school has.
But yeah, so I would say this is really prompt dependent, but the general rule of thumb would be to dig deeper rather than spread yourself too thin. So even with the 650. So you, when you feel like you can actually just focus on business [00:37:00] programs that the school offers for an entire 650 words, then by all means do that.
If you can support that with specific examples and just really go on about it. But just, I think it’s always better to just dig deeper at one topic than it is to have five topics out there and not really dig deep into why are you interested in any of them?
Do you rec do you write paragraphs in the supplemental essays? So again, this kind of depends on the length of the prompt. But in general, I would say, do you break it in paragraphs? Because it’s just easier on the eyes, if you can see, when is the beginning of the paragraph, once the topic sentence, like it’s just easier for you to skim rather than one large block of.
Text. So for the two 50 words, which are pretty common, I think I would have about two paragraphs, maybe sometimes three, and sometimes the paragraphs would be really short, like one sentence. And I think just [00:38:00] having those breaks in between, it just helps it feel nicer to read. So I would recommend having paragraphs.
Okay. So a lot of questions are about building. Building a lot of the questions are about building the application theme. And since this webinar isn’t that related, I would say to check out the advisors that we have, and I’m actually going to send an offer right now. You guys can check it out. We have a lot of, we have a lot of advisors that you guys can work with and I think building your theme is going to be a third personalized process.
So yeah. All right. Do you want to describe some of the advising packages that we have, and I can flip to the next slide. Yeah. Did I just send an offer? I think I did. Yeah. I saw it on the screen.
Okay, awesome.[00:39:00] Oh yeah. All right. Okay. So where part way through the Q and a, and as a quick break, I want to let you guys know about bulls-eye a little bit. So both side has two advising plans, the starter plan and scholar plan. They’re both monthly subscriptions where you get matched with an advisor of your choice and you get one or two hours of one-on-one advising each month as advisors, I help with college apps, scholarship apps, writing about your extracurriculars, pretty much anything that you need help with.
No matter where you are in the college process, if you want to work with me or another advisor on starting up your company, I’m sending everyone, which I think I already sent. I sent everyone at this panel and offer where you’ll be able to work with me or another bull’s-eye advisor in a 15 minutes free trial.
So that’s pretty awesome. And then the offer links to a page where you can schedule a call with Brian Mitchell, who was in charge of bullseye. And he’ll get you [00:40:00] set up to choose an advisor and get started. So our students at bullseye, haven’t had a ton of success working with an advisor, just this past emission season alone.
We had one side clients get into every single Ivy league and top 25 countries in the schools in the country. Our clients rate us 9.8 out of 10, and that’s because as advisors, we put a ton of care into working with you. One-on-one through every step of your application process and just the person. Plugged here.
I really enjoy working with my students. I think it’s one of the more fulfilling jobs that I do. And I think it’s just amazing to interact with you guys, not just over a webinar but just like face-to-face over video calls and really see you guys progress through the months. And as you go through the college application process, which I know is pretty stressful, but I think having someone there for you is really quite a relief.
All right. All right, so now I’m going to continue with the Q and a right. So lots of questions coming in. Oh, someone said they didn’t get [00:41:00] the offer, so I’ll send it again really fast. I think it should pop up on your screen. And if you click the link, that’s where you’ll be able to go schedule the, a free 15 minutes.
All right. So fi sorry. I’ve worked with the student before, so this is awesome. But she asks, what section did you put down on for your passion project? I guess I have a college admissions YouTube channel, and they’re talked about passion projects quite a bit. So passion projects are essentially extracurricular activities.
So I would put them in the activities section. So passion projects, or just, I think a self-started extracurricular. So you’re not joining anything. But it’s still an activity that you do outside of school. So I would list it under the 10 activities that you have space for.
All right. Can you add additional recommendations from mentors outside of your school? So the [00:42:00] answer to this question is that it depends on the school. For schools like Stanford, I know there’s definitely an option for you to say. Extra optional recommendations. And I think the limit for Stanford is one, the limit for every school really depends.
I’ve seen like three, so you can have five letters total with three optionals. And some schools just don’t let you submit any optional letters for the UCS. They don’t let you submit any letters at all. It was very school dependent. And I think also some schools are very specific with their optional letter of recommendation.
So for example, for Dartmouth, they have a strongly recommended optional letter from up here. So it’s called a peer recommendation. So with that, it’s like they recommend you to have a peer recommendation, not necessarily like a mentor from outside of your school. With some schools that are more open about the optional, it can come from anyone from some, for some schools that might be like limited to another teacher.
So really school dependent. I would add the school to your common app portal, and then you can see how many [00:43:00] recommendations are allowed to add in that school specifically.
All right. Is it looked down upon to link your website on the additional info section? So definitely not. I believe admissions officers don’t click on any of the links. I had a friend who tracked all the IP addresses of a website that he lived in his application, and none of them came from any colleges.
So it also makes sense because admissions officers, they just don’t have the time. And I think there’s also a security concern with clicking on links. So yeah, so admissions officers will probably not click on the link, but if do you have there, it’s almost like proof that you did do something and that it exists.
So say you say like the press did an article on me. And then you put a link there. I think the link is just like extra proof that like, yes, the article exists. Or if you say you made a website, you can put the link, but it’s definitely not looked down upon. Okay. All right. What if I don’t have any national words?
Should I [00:44:00] be worried? I don’t think, I don’t think you should be worried that you don’t have any national words at the end of the day. I think just do your best on everything. Obviously try to try to go to competitions or get awards. But if you don’t have any, all the parts of the application, that kind of, they’re all like one part of a big picture.
So say you don’t have any national words. You can still have a really strong application through your essays or your activity section or your teacher recommendations. So don’t get too stressed out about just one particular section of the application. All right. Do you still, do you submit your personal essay to each school or when submitting it once it will go to all the schools you are applying for?
Oh, that’s a really great question. So logistic wise. When you submit an application for each school. So we talked about this a little bit earlier. There’s a common application submission, and then there’s a supplemental school [00:45:00] submission. So there’s two parts when you actually submit an application for one school.
And so usually the common application is just copies over your essay to the school, and then you submit it. But also between schools, you can change your common application. We went over in the slides, how there’s that box that you can put in the writing section for the essay. So say for example, you want to submit different common applications to Stanford and USC.
So when you write, before you submit Stanford, you can have the 650 word essay, a let’s call it SAA and the common app tab. And then you can submit the common app portion of the Stanford application, and that will go to state. And now let’s say you’re about to submit your USC application and you want to use a different SSA.
Let’s call it SAP. Then you can go ahead and copy SAP into the common app tab for writing, and then get rid of SAA, put in as a B, and then submit your USC common application. I [00:46:00] hope that made sense, but basically you can still change your common application essay between submissions. So that in the end you can technically have different personal essays sent at each school.
But if you don’t want that, you can just have the same essay sent to every school. All right. Can you go back to edit your comment application once you submit it? So essentially what the common application does is that it generates everything you input into the boxes into a PDF, and then it sends the PDF to the college.
And once it’s sent. Edit that sent PDF anymore. However, you can still edit the common application so that when you send it to the next school, there’ll be different. But just remember that after you submit it to one school, you really can’t change anything that, that one school sees, but you can change things so that the next will, will see something different.
How should you repeat report that AP scores on the common app? What if your school reports all the AP scores on [00:47:00] your transcript? That’s a really great question as well. So I believe if your school reports all your AP scores on your transcript and the college is going to be able to see that because it’s on your transcript.
However if they don’t, then you really have the choice to on report, whichever AP scores you want to reporting all of your AP scores, I believe is not necessary. I think it’s all optional. So yeah, with the sat subject tests and AP tests reporting the scores are completely off.
All right. So someone asks is published research honor, or award. So this triangle okay. So I think what you’re trying to say is it, is that isn’t an honors or award, or is it extracurricular activity? And I would say, can go both ways. You can say, so you can put science research as an activity, and then you can put where your research was published [00:48:00] in the 250 character description.
However I recommend to students that say they have too many awards under science research, then they can push one of, there was two, there was an honors section. So it’s really pretty free flowing. You can really do whatever is best that works for your application. If you get rejected early action, should you change your common app essay or do something.
Or do something differently on your application? Ooh. So this is really a college strategy question, and I would say getting rejected early action from say a very selective school is by no means a sign that your application is going to be bad for other schools as well. So just for me, like I got I got rejected from a lot of other top schools, but I did get into Stanford and I think my personal essay was the same for all of the schools.
So just because you get rejected from one school, doesn’t mean you’re going to get rejected from other schools, especially if that one school’s [00:49:00] really selective. So I would say don’t change your essay if you’re happy with it. If you think it really represents who you are, then keep it the way it is.
But if you feel like, oh, I don’t actually feel that secure or confident about this piece of writing. It doesn’t actually portray me that. Then do you spend the time between early action results in regular decision to maybe Polish your essay or write on something else?
All right. Are there awards you can still receive the summer before senior year? Yeah. So I bet there are lots of awards out there that you can that you can apply to, or just even receive remember the awards and honors sections were like honors. So almost like anything can be an honor. So say you met a really famous person that is honorable and that could be counted as an honor.
So anything that happens before senior year or even during senior year, you can put on your application. Okay. Let’s do a few more questions. [00:50:00] Okay. So if you get rejected early action or decision, are you able to reapply for the same school, regular decision? So the answer to this question is going to be no.
You can only apply to one school during one cycle of the admissions process. So if you get rejected early, can’t apply again, regular, at least in the same year. So you could say the following application season and apply again to the same school. All right. But someone else asked his being in national honor society in a word or an extra curriculum.
So I’ve seen this go both ways. I’ve seen students who can’t really describe what they do and national honor society. They just put that in the award section because remember the words, character limit is even less than the activities, character limit. So if you do decide to put it in the activity section, then you should be able to really strengthen what you did in that activity with the 250 characters.
So maybe if you even received awards [00:51:00] under national honor society then you can put that into two 50 characters, but if you just feel like you don’t have that much to say at all about national honor society, then just put it in as an award.
All right. Okay. If you submit, oh, this is a really good question. If you receive any honor or award after you submit your application, is there a way to add it on through application? So the answer is going to be. Yes. And no. So you can’t change your application after you submit it. Remember, however, you can follow up with the school that emailing their admissions office and updating them on your application.
So you can essentially update them with an email and most likely what will happen is that email will be attached to your application, like a separate piece of the application almost. So you can do that. And I think like some admissions offices do encourage you to do it because I’ve gotten emails from admissions offices.
That’s oh especially for deferred students. [00:52:00] If you’re deferred and you feel like you have any additional accomplishments you want to let us know about feel free to email us. And some schools even have an update form in their portal. So after you submit your application, you’ll get a portal from that specific school.
And that’s where you will log in to check your applications. But even within that portal, you can see the status of your application whether or not it’s been submitted whether your test scores have been received. And then there’s also a probably going to be an area for you to submit updates.
All right. If you are differed from, to the regular pool, will colleges still look at the same application or will anyone be sent? So the same application will be looked at. So essentially what the third is that they’ll reconsider your application again, once they have the context of the entire pool of applicants.
So you don’t get to submit a new application your, yeah, you just get to submit the application once. And then if it’s been [00:53:00] looked at once a year, Are we able to preview the PDF generated by app before submitting? Yes, you are. So there’s a preview function. You can click that button and then it generates a PDF on your computer.
You can even download it if you want to save it for future reference, but I highly recommend that you look at that PDF and make sure that you’re happy with the formatting before submitting it to the school. Do colleges see your second semester senior grades? Great questions. So think will at first Alex, not until after the second semester, senior grade or second semester, however if you’re accepted to a school and you commit to the school you’re required to send your second semester senior grades to the school.
So say you start flunking or something. They have full power to I guess we’re send you so it was still keep up your grades second semester. What is the resume? How has it sent in? Not all schools have a section for the resume. The most basic formatting is just activity section. That’s like your resume [00:54:00] and that’s formatted completely within the common application.
So there are some schools like Vanderbilt. I remember which allowed you to submit an additional resume in addition to the 10 activities that you list. However, that’s completely optional and I haven’t experienced any schools that required you to actually upload your resume. So you really don’t really need a resume.
I think it’s completely, it’s like I didn’t send in a resume to any of my schools. I don’t think it’s really necessary because the 10 activities cover it. All right. How does the Connor common app work if you’re applying to an honors program at an institution or a specific. This is a really good question.
So most likely what will happen is that in the common application, in the school specific questions, I’ll ask, are you applying to this program? And if you click, yes, most likely a bunch of new prompts will be generated in your portal, and you’ll be [00:55:00] able to submit your answers to those essay prompts or submit specific answers related to that program.
Our college is able to see the other colleges that you’re applying to. So no, they will not be as to see that.
Do you have any tips for balancing workload to meet admission deadlines and state workers? All right. So I really highly recommend using a spreadsheet or something like OneNote where it’s essentially a spreadsheet where you can organize your school list, every deadline, all the prompts that you need to answer their different requirements, including the tests that you have to send to remember.
Some schools require that you send in an official test scores while others don’t. So for those schools that required an official test score, you actually have to go through college board or act and request that a test that report gets sent to that school. And there’s also a deadline affiliated with [00:56:00] that.
So make sure you just have all the required components information put into that spreadsheet and you can check things off as well.
Does the common app let you apply to a specific college at the university? So yes, it will. So the common app is just a portal and usually the school will have school specific questions. So say you’re applying to Cornell and then you’re applying to the hotel school of management. Then when you, I believe in the Cornell tab, it will have questions.
That’s what school are you applying to? And then you’ll be able to select it. And then after you select it will have that school specific, the prompt that shows up. All right. Let’s see. Oops.
All right. Okay. All right, guys. So thank you all for tuning in that is the end of the panel. I had a really great time showing you how to navigate the comment app and answering your questions. If you want to discuss [00:57:00] one-on-one. About your college application. I’m going to resend the offer link to you where you can talk to me or another advisor for 15 minutes.
And this is a free 15 minute trial.
Awesome. I hope this webinar was helpful to you and that you feel more prepared for the application process. If I didn’t get to your question, I’ll also send out a feedback form later this evening, where you can add additional questions. Okay. So our next webinar will be on in two days on Thursdays. It will be another small group, a members only workshop on how to research colleges from home during COVID 19.
And if you’re not a bulls-eye member, our next webinar after that will be in four days on Saturday, this one will be focused on how to crack a common app essay and how to approach the new optional [00:58:00] COVID-19 supplement prompt. This webinar is open to the public and will be led by Lauren. Our head of advising Apple’s eye.
Lauren has experienced working in admissions and as a college counselor, when you leave the webinar, your page will redirect you to the registration portal for this session. Again, thank you guys so much for coming out to tonight’s panel. I hope you all stay safe and have a great summer.