Common App Deep Dive
Want to learn more about the Common Application? Join CollegeAdvisor.com Admissions Expert, Gagan Vaseer, as he presents “Common App Deep Dive.” In this 60-minute webinar, Gagan will share insider knowledge on the different parts of the Common App. Come ready to learn and bring your questions!
2022-07-18 – Common App Deep Dive
Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on a Common App Deep Dive. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q&A on the sidebar. You can download our slides and you can start submitting questions in the Q&A app.
Now let’s meet our panelist. Wonderful, good evening, everyone from wherever you might be calling, uh, wonderful to have so many people on, on the line today. Uh, my name is Gagan Vaseer. I’m a senior advisor here with CollegeAdvisor.com. Uh, but with my background, uh, from the great state of North Carolina undergrad at Duke University, as an early decision student, graduated back in 2013 with a double major in International Comparative Studies, and International Relations and Political Science, uh, and currently I’m based out of the great city of New York.
Uh, so today we’re gonna be covering we of the great topic. Which is the Common Application, but before we dive into that, let’s do demographics to figure out who’s on the call today. So McKenzie turn over to you to do the poll. Yes. So real quick, we just wanna ask, what grade are you entering this fall?
Eighth, ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, or other. And other can be if you’re a transfer student or taking a gap year, and if you’re a parent on call, you can select the year that your student is going into. And while we wait for that, um, can you tell us what it was like when you were applying for college and like filling out the Common App?
Yeah, so again, I applied to college many eons ago. Uh, I think what 15, 14 years, um, mainly not, not much had not much has changed. Right. It was still a Common App when I applied. Um, you know, a lot of pre-work a lot of planning went into it to make sure that by the time deadlines came through, especially because I was doing early decision, it required more advanced work than perhaps, you know, applying regular decision.
But I think not much has changed. It requires a lot of dedication and a lot of attention to detail and we’ll cover all that in today’s conversation. Let see how the poll looks.
Um, one second. I think
we’re having some tech issues. Can someone put in the chat if, uh, you can hear, uh, go, uh, if you can hear go. Okay. Yeah. If you can’t hear me let, if you can’t hear me, yes. Send us over a little message.
Uh, G. Yes. Okay.
Uh, can you shy speaking now? Yeah. Can you guys hear me now?
Um, okay. okay. Okay. So maybe it was me. I’m sorry. Okay. Um, okay. Keep going, keep going. You’re good. Wonderful. So I know we have the poll, so perhaps we can see what the results look like.
You’re good. Okay. I look like audio’s fine. So McKenzie, can we see the, can we see the poll results or.
You know, let’s um, while we try to figure out these tech issues, I wan to be mindful of time. So we’ll go, we’ll go ahead and skip the poll for now and let’s get back to it when we have maybe a few less tech issues, but please do, um, send over a message. If you are having technical glitches, if at any point you can’t hear me in particular, we wanna make sure that gets, that gets resolved.
And similarly, if you can’t see the screen, please do give it a, give it a shout out. So all of you are online today because at some point in your, in your career, you’ll be applying for, you’ll be applying to college. And so as you kind of think about what, you know, what is a Common App? So the Common App is essentially the, one of the, the modules by which you apply to college it’s.
Um, centralized system used by 900 plus colleges and universities primarily focus Um, in the US, but we also have a couple colleges there from Canada, China, um, Japan, and some European countries. It will serve as your central repository for tracking where you’re applying your deadlines, your essay recommendations, and along of the peripheral documents that go with, uh, applying, it is not the sole repository.
There are schools that work off of different systems. So for example, Georgetown is a great example of a school. That’s not on the Common App. They do their own platform. Or for example, the University of California schools, Berkeley, UCLA, et cetera, also work off their own platform. But the Common App, you know, I would say probably is the, the biggest platform or the most universal pro platform that, uh, you’ll use when you’re applying for college.
So, you know, when, when does it go live? Right? So for students applying in fall of 2023, that means you’re a rising senior, right? Uh, the Common App will go live on August 1st, 2022. So that’s essentially in a, in, in about two or so weeks. Um, but to keep that date in mind, because essentially what that means is August 1st is when everything in the Common App gets finalized because every year there are refinements that perhaps there’s changes to questions, um, change changes that look and feel.
But August 1st serves as the deadline by which, um, all of those nuances are, are finalized and ready to go for the next cycle of admissions. And so when we look at the Common App, there’s, it’s, it’s, it’s a multifaceted application. It has many, many different sections to it. All of which play a paramount role in your admissions process.
Um, some of the information is pretty simple. Some of it, you know, requires a bit more effort and thought. Um, so you know, things like student information, your name, your school, your address, your email, the demographics, right? Like, um, of you and your family. The school of course wants to the school, of course wanna know about your education.
That includes your grade, your coursework, um, you know, any kind of testing that you’ve done, ACT, SAT, IB, AP, whatever that might look like the section for that as well. Those, you know, all those sections are pretty straightforward in the sense that, you know, your name is your name. You really can’t Finese that in anywhere form your tests are your tests.
You know, if you’ve taken it the score while it can change, you can’t, you can’t, uh, frame it in really any unique way, but there are certain parts of the, of the application that can be framed, right? So like you have a section for activities and awards. You can put under 10 of your top activities after five of your top awards and achievements.
There’s also a writing section, the personal essay for which there’s a different webinar that happens where we’ll talk through like, what that looks like and feels like. And then there are section the Common App that are school specific. So the first, you know, everything from student information down to writing is universal to every school.
Um, and then recommendations and supplemental essays are based on the school. If not every school, not every school will require you to write more essays or to submit recommendation letters.
And so, you know, as you can think about how the Common App actually looks and feels, um, you know, we wanna also wanna walk you through, how do you actually add and research colleges on the Common App? The Common App is a great repository in the sense that it has tons of great knowledge around what’s available in terms of deadlines and essays and school requirements.
So I’m gonna share my screen and kind of walk you through how you add, um, and research colleges on the Common App. So hopefully now you should be able to see my screen. This is my practice account for the Common App. You of course have a real application, but essentially the way it works is, you know, we have multiple tabs here.
You know, you can go to the, you can go to college search and then essentially you, you, you type in whatever school you’re interested in, in my case, I’ll put in Duke. Um, and it’ll give me multiple options. In the case, you know, there are two Duke schools that are, um, that exist, Duke haw and Duke university.
I wanna apply to the one that’s in North Carolina. So I’m gonna click a plus sign on that. And that means I’ve added to my list. If I click on the school itself, it takes me to a page that gives me a lot of inform information. Um, you know, it’ll give me content information deadlines. Again, you’ll notice that the deadlines are outdated because it’s for fall of 2022.
And that’s because of, they noted it goes live again on August 1st. So on August 1st, we should be seeing fall 2023. And they’ll also show you a slew of other requirements as well. You know, think about recommendations. The writing requirements. So in the case of Duke, you know, we have a Common App. We have, we have supplemental essay, we have optional essays and so on and so forth.
Uh, and once you add, so that school to your list, it will show up under of course, um, my colleges, which will kind of go through a little later. So it’s pretty straightforward in terms of adding and researching the school. Um, I will note a couple things, right? So the Common App does, historically again, this can change on August 1st does have limits, um, in the sense that you can only, you can only apply to 20 schools, or you can only add up to 20 schools, um, in your portal.
Right? So what that means is, you know, there’s no 21 school, you can apply it to you’re define a different platform to do so you of course can add or you, of course you can delete and add more schools as you go. But 20 is the, is the limit. Um, I will note once you hit submit on an application, You can no longer remove that school from your, your college list, right?
It’s, it’s, it’s moved forward in the process and you can’t retract it on the Common App. You can retract it, of course, like by, um, asking the school to do so, but not to the Common App.
Okay. So they mentioned, um, you know, the Common App has multiple components to it. One of the more challenging aspects of it is the, the various essays you’re asked to write. And so really there are three types of writing essays you’ll do. So first and foremost is the Common App, personal essay. Uh, that’s an essay that goes to every college you’re applying to.
So that essay is school agnostic. Um, since again, it will, it’s a, it’s a universal essay for every school. Then based on where you’re applying, there are other, there may be other requirements. So there might be supplemental essays, um, that are specific to the school, you know, often, you know, they’ll ask you, you know, why.
Why ABC school or tell us about a time you did blah, blah, blah. Um, and then some schools might also ask for writing supplement, you know, they might say, you know, please submit a research paper you’ve written or creative essay you’ve written. Um, again, very dependent on the school you’re applying to and what requirements they have.
Some schools have no essays. Um, some schools might ask for four or five depending on, you know, how they feel and kind of what kind of knowledge they’re trying to get from, uh, a student. So keep in mind, there are multiple facets, um, in which you’ll be writing. Okay. So we’re gonna do another poll here.
Hopefully McKenzie, you’re still with us. Uh, but you know, we’d love to understand where are you in the college application process? Yes. So, um, uh, haven’t started, I’m researching schools, I’m working on my essays. I’m getting my application materials together or I’m almost done. And while we wait for those answers to roll in, uh, can you tell us how students can get ahead, um, with the application now?
Yep. So, you know, whether you’re, um, you know, arising senior or you are arising first year, the Common App is still, is still live, right? So it doesn’t, it doesn’t go offline at any given point. It just gets refreshed on August 1st. So I always recommend to any of the students I work with, you know, create a profile on the com.
You can either create a profile on the Common App and look for the questions, look for the content, or use an offline copy there’s PDF copy available that you can print out. Um, and see, what’s see the type of question it’s gonna ask you. You know, generally speaking, the questions don’t change too much year to year.
You know, it’s gonna ask you for your demographic, it’s gonna ask you for your grades and your coursework and get that, get that content ready to go. Right. So, you know, whether you are, you know, if you’re rising senior, I would say you can, you can create a Common App application, uh, right now and start filling in content.
It does get migrated, um, to the new, to the new application. And if you’re younger in your, or if you’re earlier in your career, when it comes to applying, I would say, use an offline copy, um, and start gathering the content that you’ll need. Um, that way when the time does come for you to input it, it’s a matter of just copying and pasting.
And you don’t have to think, um, at that time, you know, save the, save the thinking for the harder parts of the application, not for maybe the, the basic information that it’s asking. Definitely. And it’s looking like we have 13% haven’t started 46%. 46% are researching schools. 25% are working on their essays.
16% are getting the application materials together, and 1% is almost done and real quick, I’m just gonna go over the polls from the last one, uh, 1% ninth grade, 4%, 10th grade, 20%, 11th grade, 71% 12th graders making up the majority and 4% other. Perfect. Yeah, I think that those are expected demographics.
You know, this is, you know, a lot of people don’t think about the Common App until it’s time to fill it out. But again, if you’re, whether you’re arising senior or you’re, you know, one of the, one of the first year students, I would say, you know, make a, make, make an application portal or download the application now and just look at what content is needed and start gathering it.
It never, it never hurts to be early. Okay. So let us move forward. So beyond the, the sections I mentioned earlier and the essays that I, I noted, there are some other materials that you’ll also include as part of the Common Application. A few things that are, that are notable here, of course are fee waivers, fee waivers are essentially, um, ways for you to not pay for the application, right?
Like apply applying to colleges as unfortunately not free, there’s a cost associated with it, but there are parameters by which you can, you can get that waived. Um, every school has different parameters, but there are opportunities to get free, free waivers. Um, should you should supply anywhere decision?
Um, there’s also an, a decision agreement that you will fill out just to, just to denote that you read, you read the requirements for a decision, you understand the guidelines and are committing to that, that requirement. Um, there’s also opportunities to put in your school report, a midyear report, as well as an, an art portfolio.
Should you choose to, um, again, some of these things are, are school specific. So for example, the O decision agreement is only viable for the school and school that, that offers a decision. And for what you’re applying in that admission scheme.
Okay. So, you know, there are parts of the conation that you’ll do, and the parts of the common conation that are done by other people. Right? So one of the prime things that is done by other people are your recommendations. Um, again, not every school will require recommendations. Um, but many do as to be aware of that and do plan for that in advance.
And so the way recommendations work is, you know, generally there’s, they’re requested through the Common App, but before you make a request on the Common App, do confirm with who you’re, who you’re asking your recommenders, that they in track will write it for you. You know, I think the last thing anybody wants is to receive a request for something that then that they didn’t agree to.
But should there be agreeance that, you know, one of your teachers says, yes, I’ll write a letter, your behalf, it’s a fairly straightforward process. When it comes to recommendations. So let me kinda walk you through the Common App, what that looks like. So hopefully you can see my screen. So, you know, you go to my colleges, you pick one of you pick a college that you’re applying to.
So in my case, we’ll look at Duke. Um, eventually it will load. And then, you know, on the, on the left side panel, you’ll standard application, this all Duke specific requirement, there’s recommender section. So I click on that. Uh, we scroll up, not down and essentially what this is gonna show me is what’s the, the requirement for the school, right?
So in the case for Duke, they require a C application who will submit the school report plus other forms. And then there’s a teacher requirement. They require two, and then I can submit an optional third and then they do give, give in this case, give us an option to also do another recommendation. An optional one.
That would be your fourth one. Um, so essentially the way this would work is let’s say I wanna invite my teacher, click invite teacher, very basic content, you know, email address, what they teach, uh, who they are. Uh, and again, you know, if you’re, if you are confirming that they’re invited and then you click invite, and then that triggers an email.
I will denote. Before you start, before you are able to make a request, you will have to do a FERPA release authorization. Um, essentially that is there, um, an authorization that, where you are telling the school that you are gonna waive your right to review the recommendation. Um, it’s common practice that you do waive your right to review the recommendation because that kind of ensures that the teacher or whoever is writing your letter can, is able to do so in an unbiased manner.
So just be mindful of the fact that you are, you will be asked to, um, do a FERPA authorization before you, uh, can make a formal request for our recommendation. Um, and once you’ve, you know, once you’ve essentially invited recommenders, you can also assign them to schools as well. Um, and again, once the letter comes through, you can pick what schools you want them to go to.
There are some schools that use other platforms to, um, do recommendations. So for example, Naviance is a very common external platform. Um, if your school uses that you will not invite your counselor or teachers on the Common App, you should ask your, um, your, your, your school on their, on how they wanna approach it.
But there’ll be instruction explaining what to do on how to, um, request via Naviance or other platforms that are not, um, particularly the Common App itself.
Okay. And so, you know, one of the, I think one of the benefits of the Common App is that you can use it to kind of keep track of all your different applications. Right? So whether you’re using the, the, my dashboard section, which I, again, I’ll share my screen, right? Whether you’re using the, my dashboard section, which kind of, which will show you all the schools you’re applying to plus what their requirements are, you know, that’s a great way to kind of, uh, keep track of what, of what you’re up to, uh, or you can of course, click on my colleges and go specifically school by school, to understand where you’re applying and kind of where everything is, uh, where everything stands at any given time.
So it is a fairly intuitive and simple tool to use, uh, and just recognize that there’s multiple ways for you to kind of track the great work you’re you’re doing.
Okay. Uh, one of the, one of the. Most important thing I think in the process for applying to college is of course financial aid, right? So in the Common App, you know, you are able to denote if you apply to, if you apply for financial aid, but, um, the, the Common App itself is not a financial aid doc, um, um, document right on the Common App, based on the, based on the school, you can, you can denote whether not you’re applying financial aid, but you must, you must submit the CSS profile and the FAFSA, which are separate platforms, unrelated to the Common App in order to actually be eligible for, uh, for financial aid.
So just be mindful of that on the Common App, you only denote whether you have financial aid interests, but you don’t apply for financial aid on the Common App itself. There are different platforms, particularly the CSS profile and the FAFSA that, um, are focused just on financial aid. So the Common App will not ask you, um, financial information.
Okay. So as I, as I, you know, mentioned earlier, right, there are ways that you can, you can get familiar with the Common Application. I would say, you know, after, after this meeting, you know, go to the common eye website, there’s tons of great guides instructional materials that can show you how the platform works.
Um, as also know earlier, you know, if you’re gonna apply within the one year, uh, the Common App does transfer over information. So it’s the rollover option. So for a lot of who on the, of you on the call, who are seniors, you know, you can technically start filling the content. Now, knowing that on August 1st, when the new, when the updated platform opens up, the content should roll over.
And if you’re, you know, if you’re applying a couple years down the road, I would just recommend, you know, use the paper version of the Common App. Again, if you search Common App PDF, um, it pops up and just get under, just get an understanding of what it looks like, what it feels like, what, what it’s asking.
And start getting some of the, the basic content ready to go, because some of the content, this doesn’t change year to year.
And so, you know, where in the Common App, you know, can you kind of shine and show your best, your best effort? You know, really it’s kind, it’s everywhere, right? Until, until you hit submit, you control the entire narrative that you wanna, that you wanna share with the school. So whether it’s your essays, activities, who you choose for who you choose for recommendations, uh, you know, even the case of, for example, testing right in the, in the world that we live in now, testing is, is optional for many, many schools.
So, you know, you, you can, you can decide whether or not you wanna, you wanna include testing as part of your, your narrative, right? So until something is submitted at that point, of course, it’s pretty much set in stone. You have a lot of flexibility to shine and craft, whatever narrative you would like to craft.
And so really, you know, I would take that, um, Knowledge deeply because, you know, I think a lot of people assume that, oh, the Common App is, you know, this very archaic document that is very structured. And while it is structured, there are many places for you to be creative and show the best of the best of who you are.
And so, you know, hopefully for our seniors, this will happen fairly soon, but you know, once you’ve put in all the content, how do you actually submit the application? So it’s a three step process first and foremost, review the application, you know, review it multiple times. Um, because you know, you’ll be surprised at how many times there are students who do it quickly.
And there are just like factual errors, right? There are errors between what the transcript says and what they, what they wrote. Um, they might have essay in the wrong place. They might be, they might be missing information, reviewer application multiple times. Then you will go ahead and you’ll pay the application fee.
If you have, if you have a fee, a fee waiver, that’s where that will come into place as well. And then once you review the application, you pay the application fee. At that point, you can actually formally hit, hit, submit so fairly shift process. But I think the, the prime takeaway here is review, review review, and make sure it represents the, the best of you.
And, you know, as my parting words, before we kind of go to the, the Q&A, which I think is the meat of the, our conversation, you know, I would just recommend two core things, right? Like one is start early. There’s really no, there’s no, you can never be too early, I think for, for the Common App and for applying for college.
Right? So again, whether you’re gonna be applying in two weeks or you’re gonna be applying in three, four years, you know, get acclimated with the platform, get acclimated with the questions. Um, so that way, when the time does come for you to apply, this is like a nature. Second nature to you and you are very comfortable with the platform and the question, right?
The last thing you wanna deal with when applying for college is technical nuances, right? There’s, there’s bigger fish to fry and there’s more important things you have to do, trying to navigate a platform. Shouldn’t be a, shouldn’t be the top of your worries. Um, and again, in that lens, you know, use the guides offer by the Common App.
They’re, they’re pretty solid, um, and offer a lot of great insights and we’ll address a lot of the questions that people tend to have. Right. So use the research they’re given to you that the, for a reason, um, and just make sure you’re prepared and ready to go when the time does come. Yes. So I know we’re gonna head to a Q&A, but I’ll turn over to McKenzie to guide us on that.
Yes. So that is the end of the, um, presentation portion of the webinar. I hope you found this information helpful. And remember again, that you can download the site from the link in the handouts tab and this webinar is being recorded. So you will be able to view this information again, later on our website, I listed it, the links for our website, um, where to sign up and as well as the Common Apps link, um, in the public chat, I don’t think the public chat gets safe.
So if you wanted any of that information, just copy and paste it. Um, so yeah, so now moving on to the live Q&A, I’ll read through your questions you submitted and re um, before our panelist gives you an answer as a heads up, if your Q&A tab, isn’t letting you submit questions, just make sure that you join the webinar through the custom link sent to your email and not from the webinar landing page or else you won’t get all the features of big marker.
Uh, so yeah, and also this is a larger crowd. So we wanna ask, um, we wanna remind you that we will try and get to all of your questions as best as possible. Um, and if, uh, please don’t vote on your questions cuz it disrupts the order of the Q&A tab and it makes it a little bit confusing. So, um, we just wanna keep everything in order.
So don’t vote on your question or any other questions. And then also if your question is very niche or very particular to you, um, we do recommend signing up for an advisor. If you do not already have one, so you can get those very personal and specific questions answered and get the best support for them.
Okay. Now on the Q&A uh, okay. So for our first question, a student is asking, uh, so they’re saying that they start their senior year in September, 2022. Um, they’re asking, should I aim to submit my Common App before I start my senior year in September? So you submit so, so you don’t waste, I guess you don’t waste.
So there’s no submitting the Common App, right? Because the app itself is agnostic of school. So you have you, so you submit the Common App in conjunction with the school you’re applying to. Last time I’m apply with Georgetown. Right? So what, Georgetown’s a bad example. It’s on the Common App I’m applying to Duke.
Um, right. So it, it gets submitted as one entity, right? So once I have the Common App portion done and all the Duke additional work, that, that they have their supplemental, their recommendations, et cetera, once that entire portfolio is done, then you can hit submit, but you don’t wanna submit the Common App as a separate entity.
It’s submitted as a, as a portfolio with the school you’re applying to. And so if by September you’ve, you’ve, you’ve done the Common Application and you’ve been done supplementals. Yes. You’re more than welcome to, you know, hit submit. The key of course should be here, submit before the deadlines. Right? So every school, every school has its own deadline, um, which a common up will tell you.
So your goal should definitely be submit by the deadline. When you wanna submit before the deadline is really up to you. Mm-hmm and if you’re, um, looking for early action or early decision, your deadlines will be around, uh, Halloween to mid-November. Yeah. So you’re timing may be a bit earlier. So keep up with those deadlines.
Also, remember you don’t have to wait until the actual deadline to submit, so yeah. Yes. Uh, going on to the next question, kind of going off of that, um, with managing time and senior year and stuff, how long does it take to fill out the application and how can students, um, time manage with it? Yeah. So again, there are multiple parts of the content application, right?
So like, if you look at like things like the demo, the basic content, right? Demographics, your family information, grades, um, awards, activities, right? Like, like the, the basic content shouldn’t take too long. Right. A lot of it is fully, fully straightforward. Again, you know, things like awards, activities, essays will take time.
Right there, there are word counts or even character counts in a lot of parts of the common. That means every character, every word you write has to be, has to matter. You know, it has to be Finese in a way that portrays you in the best way possible. It aligns with the narrative that you want to give. And so you, it can take, I will say it, it can take a while, right?
Depending on how the quality in which you write the depth in which you are able to craft your narrative and depending on how long it takes you to write a, a solid essay, you know, for some students, it takes a couple weeks for some students, it takes a couple months, right? It’s not applying to college.
Admittingly is not easy, right? If it was easy, um, everyone would do it. There are barriers that exist. The com app is one of them. And the fact that it is not that easy to fill the content when it comes to awards, activities, accomplishments, essays, those require quite a bit of, uh, quite a bit of effort. So in terms of how do you kind of manage your time, uh, start now, right?
Um, most of you are likely on summer holiday. Some of you are probably doing things. Um, some you may not. Right. So whatever time you have, you know, I would say, I would say, get to work, right? If you can, for example, commit to, you know, this week I’m going to, I’m gonna craft all of my awards for the Common App next week.
I’m gonna do all my activities next week. I’m going to do start my essay, right. Break it up in small chunks. Um, so that by the time, you know, you have to hit submit everything is, is pretty much done and well crafted, but I will just note that it does take time. It does take effort. Um, and you know, it’s not the, the world’s easiest process, uh, kind of seeing a theme of recommendation letter.
So we’ll go through some of those questions. Um, can you upload recommendations into the Common App, uh, now, so you invite, so you invite, um, you invite, um, recommenders, right? Again, part of it, part of it has to do with the fact that you’re authorizing the fact that you will not, um, view your recommenders, our recommendation in advance.
And so, in theory, I guess you could, there is a section of upload document for some schools, but I would broadly say, right? Like if you’ve seen, if you’ve, if you’re submitting a recommendation that you’ve already seen it probably that is not gonna be the most hard hitting part of your application for formal recommendations, teachers, counselors, um, any other recommendations that go as part of the recommendation section?
No, those will be submitted directly in the Common App by the person writing it, not by you going off of that, uh, students asking, um, in terms of recommenders, does this mean counselors, coaches, teachers, et cetera, who counts? Yeah. So again, it’s school dependent, but let me share my screen and I’ll show you.
So we’ll go back to Duke. I will put our recommenders, so every school will be specific to what they add. Right? So some schools will ask for counselors. Some schools will not. I think this one probably like the most biggest variable here. Um, They might also ask for teachers. So there are, so there are core recommendations and there are perhaps like other peripheral recommendations that are not always required.
Right? So in the case of Duke, they need, they need your counselor, they need two teachers plus an optional third teacher. And then if you choose, you are allowed to submit one additional recommendation. That can be things like an employer, a coach, uh, a clergy, me, a clergy member, something of, of that sort.
But, uh, broadly speaking, you know, for your core recommendations, it will be teacher and counselor. Yes. And usually when they’re saying, if a school asks for core specific, that means ones that count towards your GPA. So your math, your science, your English, um, your language classes, and then, um, social studies, uh, usually elective teachers don’t really count and they usually want someone from junior and senior year.
Just so it’s more recent. Uh, going on to the next topic, uh, a student’s asking, can you update your personal essay after you have submitted it, uh, to a few schools before you submit it to others and kind of going off of that, there was an earlier question where it was saying like, um, if a school, if a student wants to mention a specific school’s name, uh, in an essay and then send it, how can they go about that?
Like, can you just go over like the submitting editing process? Yeah. So, yes. Can you, so I guess one, can you edit the app? Can you edit the core Common App after you’ve hit, submit to one school? Yeah. So for example, if I hit submit to Duke tomorrow and the next day I, I realize, oh, I wanna change my activities or I wanna do a different essay.
Yes, you can. You can do that. Um, so I guess that’s to answer that one question when it comes to making a school specific, like the personal statement, I think, you know, I would, I would recommend, you know, keep. School agnostic, that essay isn’t about right. Like, oh, I wanna go to ABC school. That, that personal statement that you’re writing for the Common App is a reflection on who you are, what drives you.
Um, and you know, how you became the person you are, right. It’s school agnostic. And I would highly recommend keeping a school agnostic, uh, for right, for crafting essay that are school specific. Uh, for many schools, you know, they have supplement, they have supplementals and supplementals are where you would denote, right?
Like why you wanna go to ABC school? So again, I’ll share my screen and show you in the case of, in the case of Duke, right. They have, um, a writing supplement we’ll click on the questions. Should they load, um, maybe so, right. So in this case, like I’m apply. If I’m applying to Duke, Duke is asking for one essay, right?
It’s asking why is Duke a match for you? Right. So here I would, I would craft a 200 word narrative. On why I wanna go to Duke, but my Common App application. And so the Common App portion is school agnostic. This writing essay that this essay that I write, the personal essay, um, you know, is, is school agnostic.
And you’ll see, there are questions that are asked, right? So you can pick one of the, there, there are essay prompts that are given to you that guide you to think about how to approach your essay. Uh, but I would say for the personal statement, the one that’s goes to every school, you probably wanna keep a school agnostic.
It’s the supplemental essays, um, where you would kind of have the narrative of why it’s for school. Yes. And I’m seeing some questions on NCE. Uh, so once students asking if we use Naviance, do we still need to, uh, fill out FERPA? Have you used Naviance before? Yeah. So with Naviance, the way essentially you have to kind of work with your school to figure like every school, a different approach of how they, how they approach Naviance.
But yes, regardless, uh, FERPA is so in play, right? It is very important to schools that you are, um, authorizing the fact that you will not read your, that you will not review your recommendations. Right? It’s very, they wanna make sure that the, the person submitting recommendation can do so without, um, any kind of bias or any kind of conflicts.
So regardless of whether you’re using Naviance or you’re applying to the Common App or a different platform, the notion of the notion of FERPA and you are releasing authorization will still exist. Mm-hmm uh, going onto next question. Another student is asking. One second. Uh, if there’s any question that you wanted to get to, you can feel free to stop me and answer it.
Uh, another student is asking, what is the word, uh, li word count limit for activities, and then kind of going off of that. Can you explain the difference between the character count and word, count it, maybe even share your screen on that one. Yep. So yeah, so the character count comes into play. When you’re talking about the words and activities, the word count comes into play.
Um, when we talk about the essay. So, so let’s say the word is the, the word the has three characters, t-h-e, so that counts three characters, but that’s also just one word, right? So if you share my screen, go to the Common App again, um, you know, in the case, for example of Duke, as I mentioned, they had a word count their word limit for their, uh, for their essay, but let’s, let’s, let’s talk about activities.
Eventually this will load, um, and you’ll notice that. There are limits here. So there’s 50 character limit in activities for your description of your position, a hundred characters for the name of the organization and 150 characters for, um, what you actually did. So that’s characters, not words, right? So if you think about the fact that the word the is three characters and a space is also a character, appear also a period is also a character, right?
Punctuation count character as well. You don’t have, you don’t really have that much real estate, um, to work with. And so it’s very, so that’s why, you know, I say it’s, it’s difficult, right? Like it’s difficult because you have to be very mindful of how you craft what you’re writing, because all of us could write, you know, a novel on what we’ve done.
The school, unfortunately doesn’t want a novel, right? They want 150 characters, which is probably two sentences, depending on how long your sentences are. Right. So you have to kind of Finese and make sure you write the, the world’s most powerful two sentences that. What you did, why you did it, the accomplishments you had in essentially two sentences.
So that’s where the challenge, the challenging part comes into play. And so that’s for the awards and activities. Uh, the awards also have, uh, a limit as well. And then when it comes to the Common App essay, as I did noted earlier that also the limit, uh, in this case 650 words with the, with the unique part of the Common App is, uh, personal statement is the fact that you have to have a minimum two 50 as well.
So it’s it’s, I would say it’s pretty rare to also have minimums, but the personal statement is the one place you’ll see where there’s also a minimum of two 50 words and a maximum of 650 words, not characters,
hopefully that clarifies the word character nuance. Yes, it does. Uh, going on to next question on activities, um, a student’s asking if you have more than five awards, is there a place you can include them? And then also, can you just go over how many activities you can add and that whole section? Yeah. So into the numbers, it’s 10 activities and it’s five awards and accomplishments, right?
So you re, you re you remember the fact that like schools, when they read your application, they have limited time, right? They, they’re not gonna spend an hour and a half trying to read, read your narrative. Right. Maybe they’ll spend five, 10 minutes to do so. And so they wanna, they wanna see, like, what, what matters, what do you care about?
What have you done that you think is so great. Hence the limits limits both on number of things you can put in, but also that, that showed everyone limits on character counts and word counts. They want you to be clear, direct, um, as much as possible. Um, so really think about, you know, if you, if you’ve done 50 things, they’re not all.
Of equal importance likely. Right. There’s probably one that’s more important than the other. And so you wanna pick your, your top 10 activities, um, and top five awards, how to kind of filter that out. Right. So one of course is focused on high school, right? Like you may best grade in first grade, but you know, years of past, since let’s focus only on what you’ve done in high school, um, to again, think about, you know, I’ve done 50 things.
What do I think are the most hard-hitting things I care about that might come with time, amount of time you spent amount of accomplishments, you’ve gotten the kind of roles you’ve had in that position or in that team or in that club. Right. Try to think about like, you know, at push comes to shove what I want, what I want schools to see.
Um, if you are dedicated to showing more, you know, there is a section on the Common App that generally exists for other content. Um, and in, I guess in theory, you could put in more words and accomplishments there. Again, it’s not a guarantee that like that portion will get. Um, but in theory, you could, you could put in more, more words and activities.
I would say, you know, the, the good rule of thumb is the top 10 activities top by the words are the ones you, what you wanna focus in on, and really think through what, you know, what are the highlights, the highlights of your, your career so far, mm-hmm , uh, going on to the next question, another student is asking, uh, where did it go?
Uh, does the order of activities listed on the Common App indicate the value of each activity? It does. So again, really, really think about, you know, once I, the way I kind of approach it, I like first do a landscape analysis of what you’ve done, right? So like write down everything you’ve done in high school, then stack, rank them, write stack, rank them based on whatever your, whatever your, um, personal criteria is, you know, whether it’s how long you’ve done it, the type of rules you’ve had accomplishments, et cetera.
Um, because the ranking in which you put them in, does. Yeah, same with the words, right? Like how you, like, how you rank them does show the school, um, how important you think they are. Mm-hmm going on to the next question. Another student is ask, well, students are asking, how do you submit standardized scores?
How do you, um, send them, uh, super scores? Yep. So on the Common App, let me share my screen. So, so we got testing. So again, you, you’re on the Common App, the Common App tab, um, first, you know, you have to denote, you know, um, right. Like, do you want to self report what you’ve done? Right. So the reason you self report is at times there are delays on when things get submitted or when things arrive from the college board, you know, dual lingo because that’s allowed, um, and what other other platforms exist.
So you have to kind of denote that. Yes. You know, you do want. If you have test scores, you wanna, you wanna submit, you can denote that. Yes. I wanna submit the, I, I wanna self report, then you essentially pick what scores you wanna submit. And my kids let’s do the, a C T test. Um, and that, that pops up in the bottom.
Eventually it will load. Um, and then I can denote, you know, how many as, how many AP scores do I wanna submit schools, will schools will themselves super score, right? So you like, there’s, there’s a mathematical formula by, by which they will do it. You will not super score you on your own. Right? So for example, you know, if I took the ACT twice and I want to, um, on, um, you know, use the writing from one section and the math section, you have to submit both ACT scores schools will schools will, um, um, schools will.
Self, um, self aggregate, but you can, of course, you know, denote that, you know, here are the highest scores that I have, but you have to kind of back that up with the actual test score itself.
So you self so use self report now, but then you, you should also work with the testing platform and make the formal request to have official scores be sent to the school because they need, they need to verify that whatever you’ve submitted is in fact, correct. And.
Yes. And, um, real quick, we know that, uh, coming up with all these activity lists and just going through the application in general is very daunting and difficult. So we highly recommend signing up for CollegeAdvisor to get your own personal advisor who can really walk you through each part of the application, answer all of your questions and help guide you to make the best application possible.
That’ll help you build your activities list, write out your essays, your supplements, make sure that you’re doing, uh, the Common App. Uh, Correctly in each section. I know with my students that I, um, stayed up very, very late. This is not recommended to ask your advisor to do, but we stayed up until midnight to fill out those applications and make sure they were submitted.
Again. I do not recommend doing that, but they, it is someone who will help guide you through every portion and really can help, uh, ease some of your attentions and anxieties as well as you’d be able to have access to our other wonderful teams, such as our financial aid review team, or even our college list team who can help you with voting your college list or figuring out what financial aid packages work best for you and your family, uh, depending on your financial situation.
So we highly recommend going to app.CollegeAdvisor.com. There you can set up a free account where you can, um, keep track of application deadlines at your schools, figure out what all information there is about each school and what you need to do to apply, and as well as keep track of your applications.
Uh, and then, uh, you can also sign up for a free consultation with us through there where you can also find out more about our rates and services that we have and which one would work best for you and your family. Um, so yeah, so go to app.CollegeAdvisor.com uh, to find out more information and we hope, um, that you join us soon now, back to the Q&A.
So another student is asking, uh, is the Common App, the only option for applying to schools. And is it the most affordable? Yeah. So is, is it the, is it the, the only platform? No. So like, it is the most common platform. um, as I mentioned, its used by many, many schools, 900 plus schools, but not every school uses a Common App, right.
There are some schools like university, California system, Texas State, um, Georgetown, MIT, a lot of, you know, a lot of them use their own own platforms. Um, simply there’s another platform called the coalition app application. Um, it’s used by fewer schools admittingly. Um, it’s a very similar format in terms of feel in terms of feeling content, uh, that you can also use, but just recognize that, um, yeah, this, the Common App is probably gonna be the most, it’s the most current platform that people use because, you know, once you film the content, you can use it for so many different schools.
Uh, but there are, again, some schools that don’t, that don’t utilize it. Is it the, the most economical way to apply to college? Right. So. Ultimately, regardless of where you apply or how you apply to college, like the fee doesn’t change, right? Like whether you apply to the, whether I, whether I apply, I’m trying to think of schools that use multiple platforms.
Uh, the lesser, there are a school that use multiple platforms, whether they use their own platform or they use com or coalition, there are schools that are on both the cost will stay the same. Um, right. So again, if you, if you have, um, a financial need, you know, request, request that fee waiver, uh, but the cost to apply is platform agnostic.
and, um, to send in applications it’s $25 for the first application, I believe. And then $16 for each additional school’s application that you send after. Uh, some, uh, most likely you will need to ask your school counselor to get the fee waiver information. And if you’re in free and reduced lunch, you are likely qualify.
Um, and then also, uh, some schools have some sort of, this is like in the fine print, but some schools say if you use their personal application, or if you submit by a certain time, they’ll send your application for free. So definitely keep track of those if you’re looking for some free applications. Yeah.
Uh, going onto next question, uh, students are asking, um, does the application save your writing, like your essays and stuff, or should you do it on another, um, portal, like word or Google docs? Yeah. So it does, it does save it, uh, but yeah. Do it on a different platform, you know, do it on Google doc one. um, because again, you, the application portal, I think does, does a great job of like putting content in, but in terms of, you know, editing and spell check and the, you know, the nuance of how you actually graph your, your narratives, you probably wanna do on different platform.
Right? So I think from all my students, we always work off of Google docs and then it’s only when we’re fully complete and have all the information ready to go, which is a matter of copy and pasting
going on next, uh, question a student is asking, can you explain the fee schedule more? Will there, uh, be a fee for each school or one fee for the Common App? Uh, can you talk about the payment process also? Yeah, so it’s, uh, it is fee per it is fee per school. Um, so, you know, be, be mindful of, um, of that. Again, not, not all schools will, will have a fee.
Some of them will give you fee waivers as well, which may help in the process. Um, and application like the fees do, do differ by school. So let me share my screen. Um, maybe. Okay. So we’re back at, we’re back at Duke. So in the CA I went to Indiana university at Bloomington, right? So when you, when I go to my colleges and I click on college information, it will tell me what the cost for that school is.
Right? So in the case of Indiana, University at Bloomington, we scroll down and the fee to apply 60, $65. So once I was, when I put in all the content right now, I can’t submit anything because there’s no content in here. It will give me a, um, a platform to put in my card information, uh, and pay and pay for the school.
Right. So be mindful of, so it’s, it’s per school. And when you submit the application for the school, you’re submitting their entire portfolio of goods, the Common App, as well as supplementals, it does not include things like your. Um, SAT, ACT, AP exam scores, et cetera, all that is unfortunately an, an additional cost, uh, done through whatever, whatever platform or company that, uh, that owns that test.
Um, so hopefully that gets a bit more nuance here. Um, the cost is set by the school, um, and can, can vary quite a bit, um, as well.
Uh, going on next question, a student is asking about, um, deadlines. So they’re asking, um, does the Common App specify if a college has rolling admissions and then also just for more technical questions, uh, how do you know which schools are on the Common App and, yeah, tho those two questions? Yeah. So let me share my screen.
So the Common App will out deadlines. So again, we’re, if we’re looking at Indian university of Bloomington, you know, again, this is for obviously for, uh, last cycle, but it’ll show me all the schemes that exist. So for fall 20, 22, um, you know, it gave me the option. So there was, I could either early action and here the deadline, or I could relate, make the decision for other parts of, for other cycle cycles of application here, you know, they were rolling admission.
So it will, it will denote that as well. Um, so that answers the first question. Second question. Um, could you remind me what that was again? Um, oh, wow. I forgot to um, let me scroll one second. I recall it being very, I recall being very important. um, oh my gosh. Okay. I don’t know where it went. Sorry about that.
We, we, I I’m sure it will. It will trigger me at some point and at midnight and I’ll, I’ll, I’ll remember that, but if, if you haven’t taken part of the question, please do, please do we submit it? You definitely wanna answer it. Yes. I will look for it. And while we wait for that, um, where can students submit, um, that they’ve taken, uh, additional summer classes or additional classes on the application?
Wonderful. Um, so again, when you, when you are, lemme share my screen, when you’re on the Common App, um, under education, um, you you’ll have, you’ll have section for of course, high school and secondary, but you can also denote if you’ve taken courses, like, for example, at a college university, right? So summer course originally there, if you’re taking, if you’ve taken a course, just in high school, that would of course go in the high school section.
So really any kind of coursework you’ve done, um, Whether it’s part of your high school or part of some other institution can all go in the Common App that the place for that under education,
uh, okay. Another student is asking don’t the Ivy’s and HBCUs use their own, um, application portal. Great question. And that also reminded me of the question that we didn’t answer earlier. Yes. Um, so let me answer the, let me ask that question earlier. How do you figure out which, which schools take the Common App?
Yes. Um, if you, if you like Google the school’s name and the application, essentially they’ll denote on their, um, in their system, like a lot, most schools, you know, will defer to the Common App. So they’ll say like, oh, if you wanna apply to a, if you wanna apply to a Cornell, you know, please submit application to the Common App and they’ll have a link of the Common App.
Um, similarly, if you just wanna know, like what schools submit the common, like take the Common App. If you go to college search. If not the world’s best platform in that sense, but it will show you, um, there are a thousand schools that take it and then you can just type in whatever school you wanna go to.
So in this case, I wanna go to brown. If I could spell brown, I would go there. Um, and if it pops up, um, it it’s it’s fair. Right? So that that’s that’s um, fair game. Um, in terms of the Ivy’s and HBCUs, all the Ivy’s take the Common App, um, for HBCUs, I believe majority a majority do take the Common App as well.
So like, let’s say for example, looking at Morehouse, if I could spell it. Right. So it’s on the Common App. So again, there’s, I would say most schools, um, do do say the Common App is really only like special cases, like the university of California, some of the Texas schools, and then like novel cases like Georgetown and MIT.
um, that don’t take it, but, um, the Ivy’s definitely do. And I think majority of the HBCUs do as. Yes in some, uh, HBCUs, I believe it’s 90 out of 107 or no, it’s 64 out of 107 use what they call the black Common App, um, where you can apply for just HBCUs. Um, it’s similar to how the UC application works, where you pick your top choices, but it gets sent to all the schools in the network.
And so if you’re only interested in applying to HBCUs, that can be a good option. I believe it’s like 20. I wanna say it’s $20 for the whole application, but I feel like that’s very low, like $20 and it sends to everybody or whatever the flat fee is and it sends to everybody. Um, so that can be a good option if you’re interested in HBCUs.
Um, so yeah, and then also some schools will be getting added to the Common App this year. So I think it was Texas A&M is getting added. You won’t see it right now, but when the application refreshes, um, on August 1st, you will be able to see it. So there may be some schools on there that Aren are on there now.
Uh, going on to next question. Um, so another student is asking, uh, do we need to wait until letters of recommendation have upload have been uploaded, um, before submitting our application? Um, you do not, but just remember that your application is not complete, uh, is not considered complete until every, um, that portion is ready to go as well.
So you can, you can, you can submit your portion. The schools may not review your application until the letters are received. Yes. And they, um, you’ll be able to see if your recommenders have submitted their application through your Common App portal. Um, you, uh, recommenders, technically don’t have to be submitted by the deadline, but for the sake of your own stress and peace, um, you want them to be submitted.
So do check in on them for that, but you won’t be penalized if they haven’t submitted your application will still be counted as in, but you will need to remind them if they send it. Going on. I know, I know, I know we’re at time, so perhaps we can do one, maybe two more questions in together. Uh, a student is asking if you got one really bad final grade, is there a place in the Common App?
You can explain it. So if you can talk about that additional information section, uh, and then any other part of the Common App that you just wanted to talk about, feel free to use the last time. Yes. So yeah, so there is a section of the Common App called additional information. Um, it, it essentially, it’s an opportunity for you to share any information that you wish to share.
As I mentioned, some students, you know, if you wanna put in more activities, in words, you, you could put in there if you choose to, but that section can be used to explain a way, um, any anomalies that perhaps exist in your profile, uh, that you think warrant, um, explanation. Uh, and then one other thing I’ll add is broadly with the Common App in the, in the.
As it currently because of COVID, there’s actually another essay on the Common App. Uh, that’s sort of, COVID 19 supplemental, um, it’s optional, but essentially it gives you the opportunity to say, you know, how is COVID 19 and all the related, uh, nuances of that as well as other disasters that are existing in the world, uh, the impact it’s had on you.
So, you know, if you are someone who has been negatively impacted or positively impacted, I guess, um, by any of the, the trial and tribulations of the modern day, there is a short essay you can, you can submit as well. So be mindful of the fact that, you know, there are, there, there are multiple avenues for you to write to, for you to craft your narrative and to kind of share everything that has happened to you in the last couple years or decades.
Um, so we think through, you know, which question and which. Um, submission option. You, you wanna take part, uh, you wanna take advantage of and what content you wanna shape in each of the respective essays, uh, because there’s, you know, while there’s not a lot of space, there’s enough space for you to really kind of show the full breadth of, of who you are.
Um, so hopefully that was, that was very helpful. That was a, that was great, wonderful question from everyone. Uh, really enjoyed it. Uh, McKenzie, thank you. As always for leading the charge here, I’ll turn it back to you. Yes. So that is the end of our webinar. We hope you had a great time listening to all this information about the Common App and thank you to our wonderful presenter for providing all this information and for screen sharing the screen sharing let’s point on, uh, just so they can actually see the application.
Uh, here’s the rest of our July series, where we’ll be talking about different aspects of the application, um, in the admissions process, we’ll have different school tours and panels. So if you are building your college list, those may be great to join, just to get more information and we’ll just have other, um, webinars coming up on how to improve your application and how to really apply to these schools.
Um, if your question did not get answered in this webinar, Uh, go to our website, um, and type in the keyword of what you’re looking for. You may find a webinar that is on the exact topic that you’re looking for. I saw a lot of questions about early decision or early action. We have a bunch of webinars on those.
So please do check those out for more information and remember that coming to these webinars. Um, you can, it, it is a great place to get your answers. Um, your questions answered, uh, but if not, then do, uh, sign up for CollegeAdvisors so you can get that personal support or check out our other webinars that may be more tailored to what you’re looking for.
So thank you everyone for coming out tonight and goodnight. Thanks everyone. Have a great evening.