Understanding the Common App

Find out how to use every part of the Common Application to stand out.

Date 10/11/2021
Duration 1:00:11

Webinar Transcription

2021-10-11 Understanding the Common App

[00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to CollegeAdvisor’s webinar on understanding the common application to Oregon. To orient everyone with the webinar timing, we’ll start off with a presentation, then answer your questions in a live Q and a on the sidebar. You can download the slides and you can start submitting your questions in the Q and a tab.

Now let’s meet our panelists. Okay. Hey everyone. Welcome to the session. Uh, my name is Gagan Vaseer. I’ll be leading today’s conversation on understand the common app. A quick intro on myself. I am from the Gracie abroad Carolina. I went to undergrad at duke university, graduated back in 2013 with double majors in international comparative studies and political science.

I was an early decision admit to duke. So what that means is it’s the only school I applied to, uh, back in October of 2008. Um, and that was it. It was a one and done situation. Um, since having gone to duke, I also have [00:01:00] a master’s degree in policy from Harvard have worked in various various industries. Uh, currently I do consulting as my main job, and I’ve been in the college advising space now for a little over six years and have worked with numerous students and helping them get into their, their gold schools, uh, for today’s conversation.

Of course, we’re going to focus solely on one aspect of the college application process, which is the common app and we will go to the next slide. Okay. So we’ll start off with a poll. If you could just put in what grade you’re in, um, that’s going to help us kind of think through, you know, the demographics we’re working with and ensure that you’re all getting to buy content, uh, that you need.

So we’ll give you a second. Yeah, numbers are starting to come in. Thank you everyone for answering. It looks like as we might expect, um, Mo almost 70% of people are 12th [00:02:00] graders. Um, this is, uh, is a good place to be. You guys are, um, in the thick of it now with, uh, with the common app, but we have quite a few 11th graders as well.

Um, one ninth grader and two others. So you’re all in a great place. Yeah, it’s a good demographic. It’s um, you know, there’s, it’s never too early to start in the process. So for those of you who are other, or, um, 11th grade and below welcome, you’re being very proactive for those of you who are 12th graders, um, as mentioned during the thick of it right now.

So they should hopefully help you navigate, um, the common app. So let me go to the next slide. So for those of you who are not fully rubble with a common. The common application is an application that’s used by 900 plus colleges and universities primarily in the us, but it also has some, a lot of schools globally as well, primarily in Canada, China, et cetera.

Um, it does serve as [00:03:00] a central repository for tracking, um, while you’re applying to deadlines, FKA recommendation, essentially the whole gamut of all of that is involved in the common app. And part of the college process. I will just note here. The common app is one of many platforms that is used to apply to colleges and not every school uses a common app.

So for example, if you’re applying to the university of California schools, those would happen not on the common app, but through a different platform. Similarly, there are some schools that use a platform called the coalition application, um, that had a different process and approach to it. Uh, for today’s conversation, we’ll focus purely on the current.

But I did want to flag that while it’s the most commonly used platform. It is not the platform that every school will take. And so when does a common app go live for the common app for, for, for the [00:04:00] fall of 2022? So those of you who are seniors that’s when you would be starting college, the application went live on August 1st, 2021.

So now we’re a few months deep now, um, for when it launched. Uh, and I would say August is generally when the common app does launch historically across years. Um, what that really means in processes, you know, the comment app will go down for a few weeks, uh, over the summer so they can revamp the revamp platform.

So we’ll come back on August 1st, uh, fully ready to go for the next round of admissions.

And so what common app has a lot of different facets to it. You know, as I mentioned before, it’s a central repository for all information. As part of the college application process. So there’s a lot that goes into it. Would you see on your what’d you see on your slide is really the, the gamut of all that you’ve put in your, everything from basic content around, like your name, your demographics.

We are, parents are to more [00:05:00] media, your content around, you know, what grades, what grades you’ve received, the coursework you’ve taken. If you, if you had any AP IB sat act scores, whatever testing you’ve taken to also include that academic profile as part of the common app, but as you’re well aware of the college process is not just one based on grades and academics.

It’s really based on a holistic understanding of who you are, what you also see the common app in a section to put your activities up to 10 activities, as well as up to five awards you’ve won. Similarly, you’ll have the option and the ability to submit a couple of essays, a common app itself. Well, we call the personal statement.

It’s the one essay that you write that will go to every school, whether you’re applying to university of Kansas or Yale university, the personal statement is used across all, all universities. Then based on where you’re [00:06:00] applying to school, your actual college lists, there’s a few other additions that come into play.

One is recommendations. So, you know, whether it’s your teachers, your counselor, or your coach, et cetera, schools vary on whether or not they require recognition and how many that require. And then supplementals, supplementals are additional questions or essay that schools ask, ask students specifically for that school.

And so while the personal essay is a universal essay across all schools, the recommendation and supplementals is specific to that university. So just be mindful that as you’re navigating the common app, While the first few bullets will be, will be the same across all individuals. The last two bullets, the recognition supplements will vary based on where you want to pay to school.

Okay. So, you know, for those of you who have perhaps navigate the common app, uh, you’re probably kind of thinking through, you know, how do you actually add and research [00:07:00] colleges on the common app and here I’ll do it. I’ll do a live, um, tutorial to kinda make sure that everyone understand how you add colleges.

And so let me share my screen. So the way this works is, if you can see my screen, uh, this, this is what the common app looks like when you log in. I already have colleges on my list, uh, but let’s say you weren’t sure where you want to apply, or you wanted to do a bit more research. What you would do is you would go out, you would log into common app.

You would go to the college thirsty. Uh, it’s super simple. And essentially what you can do is you would start adding in names of school you’re interested in. So let’s say I want to go to Yale I’ll type in Yale. Um, what I can do now is I can add that college to my list, um, by clicking the plus icon and what that means that it will add that college to my college list.

Or if I want a bit more information about that school, I can click on this two little dots and it had the option to really go [00:08:00] three places, either get called information, which is a docu, which is information that that’s housed on the common app or the option to go either to the college website directly, which admissions.yale.com or the Aqua admissions website for first-year students.

The common app, you know, is, is quite, um, substantive when it comes to really providing you a plethora of ways to really research school. Um, and can we show that you understand what’s being offered? I will note a couple of things here. You know, you can, you can add really only up to 20 colleges on the common app.

So, you know, it let’s say you want to tie to 22 schools, the 21 schools, the additional school, you have to apply to that to a different platform. So if you have a long list of schools, um, you have to work across multiple platforms, that coalition app, the common app, the UC, the UC [00:09:00] school app, to really make sure that you can you’re, you’re, you’re, you’re playing the puzzle correctly.

Let’s say that you can apply to whatever number of school do you want to apply to, but just do note that you can add up to a max of 20 schools. Um, I will also note that once you’ve added a school to your list, you can always delete it. If you choose not to apply. However, once you have submitted the application, at that point, you can not delete that school from your college.

If you want to attract that application, you have to reach out to the school directly.

Okay. And so, as I mentioned before, there’s a couple of different essays. You write for the common app, there’s the combat personal essay, but the personal statement, supplemental essay, and then the writing supplement. So the nuance between all three. So the common of personal essay, as I mentioned before, goes to nearly every college you apply to, it is really a, a college agnostic school, uh, uh, essay.

[00:10:00] You know, you generally don’t reference any specific school you want to go to, or really any specific major, as well as an essay, really, to kind of reflect on who you are as a person and share that, you know, that individually individualistic narrative of who you are on the second front, you know, we have college specific essays as well.

There’s supplemental essays. And then there’s a writing supplement. Supplemental essays are. That schools will ask you based on any kind of plump that they have specific to them, they might ask you, why do you want to study ABC major or why you are, why are you applying to XYZ school? That’s supplemental essays schools can have to have, can have anywhere from zero to IFC up to eight or nine.

Um, in terms of length, you know, they can vary anywhere from like 50 characters. If you’re playing a Stanford to, uh, an infinite number of, um, awards for some schools. So it can really vary. And then providing supplements, [00:11:00] some schools might allow you to submit additional papers you’ve written in the past.

Any research work you’ve done, um, to a support group application. Would you only speak in those are the, that’s the jest of kind of all the essays you’ll be writing for the common app.

Okay. So, as I mentioned before, the common app includes a lot of information. So what other materials would you include in the common app? So, first and foremost, our fee waivers, most schools require payment in order to actually have your application submitted. There are ways to add Brooke to request a fee waiver.

If you meet the financial requirements, to get that, to put that request in, I’d recommend, if you are considering a fee waiver, definitely research, how to request that some of it does require either income, threshold, or a request from your college, your college counselor, and your high school to submit paperwork on your behalf.[00:12:00]

You might also submit as part of the common app will be called the early decision agreement. There are some schools which you can apply to early decision, which are binding, which are binding contracts. And so should you be able to apply to a school that’s only decision? You do have to find a college. Uh, you will sign in your college counselor will sign it totally ensure that you and your due diligence.

Um, and, and you’re, you’re saying that if you get it, you will, you will attend. Schools will also a time to ask for a school report, a school report. Essentially, it’s a document that comes usually with a transcript to give schools colleges a perspective into what your high school offers. So it might be in the coursework grading system, you know, how GPS, how GPS calculated.

It’s again, it’s a way to give nuance around, you know, your school as colleges will not know how your school functions and, um, the way you may know, um, some schools will [00:13:00] also request that you send a mid-year report. Um, essentially this is a way for schools to understand where you are academically, before grades have come out.

You know, oftentimes if you’re applying for regular decision, for example, you’re applying. Before your semester grades have been finalized it’s the school didn’t want to see academically how you’re doing, and they might request a mid-year report that will often come through your college counselor. And then some schools will often, if you’re applying for a degree that’s relevant to the, to the art space, they might ask you a similar arc portfolio as well.

Um, usually in that case, they will really define what they need from you, you know, whether it’s videos or anything of that sort.

Okay. So a lot of the common app content you put in is going to be the information that you put on yourself. However, there is materials on the common app that require [00:14:00] help from other people in particular. That is the recommended. That is going to be their recommendations. The recommendations are essentially letters written by the teachers, your counselors.

I trusted advisor, a boss, whoever that might be to speak on your behalf, you know, schools are required, anyone from one to maybe three to four letters before you go ahead and input, um, recommenders on your, on your common app, make sure you confirm with your teachers or recommenders that you are doing. So, you know, it can get very awkward if you put someone’s name in and they have not agreed to write a letter.

Once you have agreeance from them, that they in fact will write you a letter. At that point, you can go back into the common app under the mycologist tab, which I will show you one second. So you can go to my college’s tab. Um, and then I’ll pick a university in this case, I’ll pick Harvard, [00:15:00] uh, and it’s going to allow me to under the recommenders and FERPA, it’s going to allow me to submit recommend.

I will note here. One of the things you must do as part of your, before you invite recommenders is spell out what is called a FERPA release authorization, essentially what this, this document entailed that you’re going to waive your right to review your recommendations, um, in advance of that being submitted, it is generally common practice that schools will expect that you waive your right to review letters that will, your letters are going to be candid and really, really be unbiased.

So once you waive your right to review the recommendations at that point, you can invite recommenders. Um, you know, in this case you have the option to invite a lot of people. You can buy counselors, teachers, other recommenders you can buy to parent as well. Should you want your parent to be able to follow along on your [00:16:00] product?

You can also invite it in better adviser as well. Someone like myself, um, you know, if you’re, if I’m supporting application, just to make sure the content you’re putting in, um, is working out well, the first three, the counselor, the teacher, the other recommenders are actually going to think they’re going to keep up, who will actually submit things on your behalf.

I E the letters recommendation the latter to the parent and that advisor are, are not, are not individuals who will be editing your editing application. They’re individuals who are only helping guide you in the process to just be aware, um, of the different nuances. And again, schools will denote how many letters they’re required.

So in the case of Harvard, under teachers, they require two teachers. Plus I have the option to submit one additional one, just be aware that the number of letters does vary by school. I think going back to this.

Uh, I will also note here that if your school uses other [00:17:00] platforms like Naviance, uh, you will not invite your counselor teachers by the common app. There are instructions on the common app. Plus your counselor should provide you details on how to request those letters through Navios itself or whatever platform your school is using.

I will also know here once you invite a teacher or recommender to write that letter for you, you have to assign each teacher to a school, right? Some schools have one recommender, some might have four. And so you have to assign which teacher you want to write for with school. Moving forward. One of the great aspects of the common app is that it really allows you to track your 20 applications in a way that’s very clear and concise.

Um, and luckily, you know, through the dashboard and the, my cause section, you can figure out requirements, deadlines, statuses, but really all of your schools. Um, so you, if you’re ever unclear as to what [00:18:00] your status is, are the, the dashboard is a great way to go find that information out. So a lot of students do partly as part of the college process will apply for financial aid.

You can denote in the common app itself, whether or not you’re applying for financial aid. The common app itself is not a financial aid document. If you intend to apply for financial aid, you should expect to submit the CSS profile, as well as the FAFSA, the CSS, the CSS profile is used for college specific aid.

The FAFSA is used for federal aid. Uh, I gave you the documents and portals that are not related to the common app itself. You can indicate on the common app, your interest in financial. But you must submit the pro the safest profile, as well as the fats that in order to actually be eligible for aid and the FAFSA and profile are both the both, uh, portals are open for this year’s [00:19:00] application cycle.

Okay. Now that I’ve said a lot, we’re going to ask the other question. Uh, where are you in the outpatient process? Let us know where you stand. Um, probably more opportunity for, for seniors who are in the thick of it. We’ll give you guys another five or so seconds, and then what Hannah give us, uh, the hot take.

Okay. It looks like we have a lot of students researching schools and working on essays. Um, both good things to be doing at this time. Okay. Number seem to be starting to even out. So it looks like we have 12% who haven’t started 32% who are researching schools, 40, uh, sorry, 24% who are working on their essays, 26% who are getting their application materials together, and 6% who are almost done, congratulations to everyone who is almost done.

Oh, you’re you’re well, at ahead of the game, if you’re, if you’re nearing the [00:20:00] conclusion, your college process. Wonderful. Okay. And so, you know, I won’t dive too deep into this since most of you are already in the thick of it and applying, but you know, how can students, you know, especially if you’re, um, earlier on the process, you know, get, get acclimated or familiar with the common application, I would really say, you know, kind of three things here, one, you know, brown, the common app website, you know, they have wonderful guidance instructional materials that will walk you through how to use the.

The platform itself, isn’t super complicated, but it is very unique. So you want to get comfortable with it before you start applying. Similarly, if you’re going to apply within one year. So I, if you’re a junior right now and you’re going to apply next fall, you’ll have the option to start the common app now and use their rollover option.

So whatever content you put in, um, once the common app transitions into the next next year cycle, it can roll over whatever content you’ve already done. So it might be a good way to save [00:21:00] time if you, um, want to get started. Now, if you’re going to apply more than a year out, I would recommend brown the paper version of the common app it’s available on the website and started looking at the content that you need to fill out by the, um, the content takes time to draft.

And so, as long as you get acclimated and aware of the content that you would need, uh, it never hurts start early. And then when the time does come for you to actually apply whether it’s a year in advance or actually when you’re applying, you’ll be aware of what you need to do. So again, a lot of waste, a lot of ways to approach it.

If broadly speaking, it’s never too early to look into the common app, just get aware of all the intricacies that it involves.

So last thing is often asked, you know, where are the common app? Can you actually shine? Uh, and the answer really is, you know, you can shine everywhere, whether it’s your essays, your activities, your recommended, your recommendations. You really have the power to control and shape your [00:22:00] narrative in any way that you deem fit.

Um, it’s only when you hit submit and the application goes to the school. At that point, you have no, really no further control around what’s in that profile. But up to that point of you hitting submit, you really own that application. So that’s why it’s super imperative that you take the time and effort to make sure that you’re dotting your T’s and dotting your I’s and crossing your T’s.

Uh, because the common app is a reflection of you at the individual and all that you’ve done. And so you really want to put your best foot forward and make sure that everything you’re inputting in really meets the mark and at the best of what you can put on paper. So take your time, don’t rush through it, make sure that your, your, your, your, your spell checking your grammar is correct.

You’re factually correct as well in the content you’re putting in, because all of that’s going to reflect on the narrative you put forward, and the profile of the school is all about you evaluate again, evaluate you [00:23:00] against.

And so once, you know, for the, for those of you who are nearing the end, um, you know, how do you actually move forward and actually submit the, submit the application? So once you put all the content in review application, And we review it again and review it again, make sure it’s a hundred percent accurate.

And you’re very satisfied with what you have. Once you do your due diligence. At that point, you need to pay an application fee. If you requested a waiver, the waiver at that point will come into play as well. And then once you’ve actually paid application fee, and that goes through, you can go ahead and click submit.

Um, I would note here, you always want to be mindful of the deadline. Deadlines are generally not forgiving. So if the w if the deadline is November 1st, you should assume that’s going to be the deadline, the common app, like most tech platforms do suffer challenges when on the, on their [00:24:00] final days, because it’s got, they’re going to be inundated with students applying.

If you all, don’t leave yourself a buffer period. If the deadline is the 1st of November, aim have everything submitted by the 30th 31st of October, that way, you know, you aren’t tackling with technical issues, um, and hope we don’t miss any of that. So the mindful of tech issues and plan in advance that worst comes to worst.

That could happen.

And so, you know, as we kind of close out the, the petition portion of the session, the advice I would give to all of everyone on this, on this call is start early. Right. As I mentioned before, it’s never, you’re never totally just have the common app. You’re never too early to, we think about college. You know, whether you’re applying in a couple of weeks or in a couple of years, um, you really want to think critically about what the, what are the common app entail?

Do I understand how to use it? Do I know what do I do? I know what [00:25:00] goes into it. So, you know, if you have five minutes here and there, you know, download the common app, look at, look at all that entail and get comfortable with it. So when your time does come to hit submit, uh, you are, you can do how you can do so comfortably.

And again, take advantage of all the guides that are available on the common network. No, they do so for your better rent. Um, so it’s available, you utilize it, you know, all of you are already doing great work by joining this call. You know, this is a great step, but you know, definitely take the next step as well of learning more about the platform and how to, and how to use it.

All right. So this, yeah. So this is the end of the presentation part of the webinar. We hope you found this information helpful, and remember that you can download the slides from the link in the handouts tab. Now moving on to the live Q and a I’ll read through questions you submitted in the Q and a tab, paste them in the public chat.

So you can see and then read them out [00:26:00] loud before our panelists give you, gives you an answer as a heads up. Yeah, go, go on. Yeah, I would add your edge as you guys ask. Um, a couple of things. One thing I’ll ask, I’d definitely ask questions that are targeted to just more than an individual person. You don’t think of questions that others might have as well as you can fathom.

There’s quite a few people on the line here. You want to be able to provide answers that are perhaps a bit more universal than your specific case. All right. So our first question is, um, how can you make changes in the applications if you want to make some changes after submitted, after you’ve submitted it to some schools, but want to add changes for the next schools, basically, if you’ve submitted some, can you still change for other schools?

Yeah. So once it is submitted for that school, that it’s a, it’s a snapshot in time. So whenever you submit to that school, [00:27:00] that’s done. If you change anything later on the common app, which you are allowed to do, that will only go to. Uh, schools that have not received or schools that you have not sent an application for?

The answer is yes. Okay. Our next question is what do we put in the honors section you have the honor section is really, um, so you got you get, you get the option to put five honors. The honors section is any kind of award or honors or achievement that you’re proud of anything from like academic achievements, such as honor, on a role on society, AP scholar, uh, any academic awards you won two, maybe you won awards around athletics or you’ve won volunteering service award.

Maybe you’ve done some very profound research. Again, anything that you deem yourself as a high honor, uh, and that you’re proud of. Um, you can, you can provide that content in the honor section again, you only give you, you only get the option to pick five things, to be mindful that you really want to pick things that are [00:28:00] hard heading, um, that are unique.

Um, and then, you know, maybe better, if you want to kinda think of a tiering system, you want to put international awards or national awards and national awards over local awards. Okay. Our next question is, is a good to start making a profile and practice writing essays for college while being a junior.

So I guess I’ll say in tune two ways in terms of starting a profile, you know, definitely yes. Uh, you can shut the common app a year in advance, start throwing content in, and then you can roll it over to when the next to when the new common app opens up, be mindful that you will likely do things in, in, in junior year and early senior year that you want to include the common app.

So the common app is a living document. Make sure you’re updating it as you have more achievements and you’ve done more wonderful. In terms of writing, uh, in terms of writing your personal statement, the personal statement requires a [00:29:00] lot of thought, you know, again, if that one essay that every school sees.

So if it truly is a universal essay, you should be thinking about what you want to write about in your junior year. In terms of craft with a narrative might look like there are students who will build on their junior year junior experiences. Um, and so, you know, they might start junior year, but they won’t finish it until maybe beginning of senior year because they want to have that freshness and they want to include whatever grade work they’ve done.

But, uh, broadly the answer to both questions is yes, you should start early, uh, but make sure you’re always evolving what you’re writing so that it reflects you in the, in the moment.

Uh, our next question is, are there good resources for how to write the personal asset? There are. So within our CollegeAdvisor.com had the wonderful. That walks, that has a lot of different guides around how to approach the common app. And I was [00:30:00] recommended after today’s session, you know, definitely go through our blog if you haven’t already gone.

So you’ll see, um, guides both on how to write the common and personal statement, but also how to write for specific schools and supplementals. And if you want to work with the CollegeAdvisor, we will work with you. One-on-one on your essays. Okay. Quite a bit of time working with students on the common method.

Yes. Um, also, if you, I will, I plugged this now, cause the team started back up again. We also have an internal essay review teams. So you can get your essay looked at by more than just your advisor. Um, I plugged that because I’m on that team and we’ve been, I’ve been reading many essays and the past few days.

Okay. Uh, our next question is if you don’t have any awards, can you submit 10 activities? Yep. So when you, so the common app gives you the option to miss, to submit above you have 10 activities and five words. So they’re, um, again, they’re independent things, [00:31:00] but overall it’s 15, but 10 activities and five awards, I would say really assess whether or not you have achievements.

Most students, you know, they’re not, they might not be formal award, but you likely to have achievements that you’re proud of, that you should denote on your application. Um, again, you, maybe you haven’t won the Nobel prize, but you’d likely have won something in how your high school career, or have an honor or an achievement that you’re proud of, that you can likely, um, craft in a way that works for that content.

And again, that we work with as advisors quite a bit on, on helping students think about what is, uh, an honor for them. Because a lot of times you, when I think of that honor, but externally, it has one. All right. Our next question is what is the average cost of each applicant? Wonderful question. So again, it does, it doesn’t vary and you know, I really cannot give you a dollar amount.

I think generally speaking, it’s in like the 50 to $80 [00:32:00] range. Um, again, year to year costs change based on inflation and what schools want to charge. But again, I would say 50 to 80 some schools again provide, provide waivers, some provide, um, the ability to get a, either a co cost reduction. If you attend one of their online session or you go on campus and visit them, there are a lot of ways to save around, um, college fees.

But again, you know, if you need a waiver, um, definitely research that process, you have to meet either financial threshold or your college counselor. I’m happy, able to kind of request that on your behalf. Okay. Our next question is besides the common app, what are the other application platforms? Yep. I guess they’re really two universal platforms that are the common app you talked about today.

Um, and the coalition app, uh, which there there’s quite a bit of, there’s quite a bit of overlap between coalition and coalition app and common [00:33:00] app, but common app is a bit more universal than the coalition app. There are some schools that are only on the common app. There’s some schools that are only on the coalition app.

Aside from that, if you’re playing a university of California, for example, they use their own UC university of California system portal, which you apply to them and then schools independently. But also that other platform, a lot of Texas schools use a platform called ApplyTexas Georgetown, for example, had their own application portal on portal.

Um, again, you know, it is a hodgepodge of different schools and their preferences and how they, uh, and what they prefer. Generally speaking, if a school is on the common app and they offer their own platform, their. They don’t care, which one you pet. There are oftentimes school with only with school, with only have one platform is either going to be the common app coalition app or their respective school platform.

And as, as [00:34:00] good said, if, if I know I’ve seen a few questions of like, which is better at the common opera coalition app, neither one is going to make you more likely to get into the school. Um, well, they’re at school. They’re very agnostic. As long as you are picking one thing in an application and you’re filling it out correctly.

Yeah. Which one you choose schools don’t care about. Okay. Our next question is, do you have 12th grade courses listed on your transcript that have been issued official transcript grades? So I think I just had a question correctly. So your transcript should include. Depending on how your school approach it should include the class that you’re taking senior year weights with the nuance here.

If you’re playing early action, early decision, the class, it will be listed, but your grades will not be because the class haven’t finished yet. Um, if you’re applying for example, early, [00:35:00] uh, regular decision and that deadline is after your grades come out, your grades will be included. As I noted earlier, schools will ask for a thing called a midyear report.

Uh, and that’s their attempt to figure out and learn about how you’ve been doing academically. Since you submit your application, if you submitted an early application and you got in, you got in school to want to know, are you still doing academically well? Uh, and the mid-year report is a way for them to kind of glean your grades.

Okay. Okay. Our next question is, is there any benefit to finishing the optional portfolio option on the.

If you are applying for a degree that requires a portfolio, then it is of course not optional. I would say in most instances, if you’re not applying for really a degree that requires a portfolio, you know, arts dance and those related those related spaces, barring you having an [00:36:00] extravagant wi um, strong art background is joining our recommended.

You know, it’s, it’s very rare that students who are students who are not in that space to have, have a profile or portfolio that’s going to be compelling. Um, I will say also one thing. Um, kind of differs from school to school is in some schools, often larger schools, the only person who sees that portfolio is the admissions officer.

And for many of them, it is not a large factor in their decision to admit you because they may not be a like painter. And so they don’t know what, or, or a like fine art, you know, consumer. And so they might not know what they’re looking at when they look at a painting of yours. Um, if, again, if you’re not applying specifically to a fine arts conservatory, um, however, some small schools, um, will [00:37:00] pass those portfolios onto the department and have professors overview of them.

So at the school I went to, which was a pretty small school, I submitted a music portfolio and they pass that onto the music department. And the music department basically said, we like her. We don’t like her. We don’t want. Um, and, uh, I don’t think you can really, Reese, I don’t know if schools have that anywhere online, whether or not they do that.

Um, but I think if it’s a really small school with, with very, um, with a department that is very invested in finding, uh, new students, which the music department at my school was, they do look over that. And I do know that that had an impact in their decision to admit me. So, you know, it’s not, it doesn’t mean nothing, but, um, it’s probably not going to be the biggest, um, factor either way.[00:38:00]

Wonderful. Okay. Our next question is, um,

how does your school counselor know whether you qualify for a fee waiver or not? Yep. So you a school counselor. I have gone through the process many, many times before it’s. So generally they’re aware of the parameters that are, um, the parameters that are needed to meet that fee waiver requirement. Again, I would say for those of you who think you might qualify for a fee waiver, you’ll go on, go on, you know, you can, you can, there’s this Google common application fee waiver, and it will go walk you through the requirements to get a fee waiver.

Generally speaking, I think for a counselor to request, they have to visit like the note that this person out for a fee waiver, if they believe that you should get one. But I would say definitely after our conversation today, um, Google comment, application fee, waiver, you [00:39:00] know, walk you through whether or not you qualify.

Okay. Our next question is, um, since the sat is optional for the 20 21, 20 22 school year, will it be okay to not submit scores this year? It’s the top 10. Yep. So ultimately it comes down to, you know, what your scores are, right? Like if you have scores that are within the range of what is top 10 or top, whatever, you know, look at your, if you, if you have sat scores and they follow in the range of that school, you’re applying to, you’re more than welcome to submit them.

If your sat scores on the lower end, or you don’t have sat scores that you shouldn’t submit them. I think it’s, uh, it’s a fairly easy process. Just assess where you are in there in the school spectrum or range when it comes to sat, scores, act scores, whatever that might look like if you fall within the right range, it’s a minute.

If not, you likely don’t want to. Okay. So we’re going to take a [00:40:00] quick break and I want to let you know what you can do. If you want to work with one of our advisors from our team of over 225 advisors and admissions office. You can sign up for a free consultation with us by going to CollegeAdvisor.com and clicking the green chat button in the bottom, right of the screen from there, just write in consultation and alive team member.

We’ll get back to you to help coordinate your free consultation with us. All right. Back to the Q and a. Um, our next question is, um, when we do any honors or activities, can it only be high school or can it be from our entire schooling as well? You should focus purely you, you should focus on high school because that’s going to be the best reflective nature of who you might be in college, unless you want something so profound, right?

Like if you won [00:41:00] an Olympic gold medal, when you were in seventh grade, you may want to put that in your application. But generally speaking, you should, you should think primarily of high school honors and awards.

Um, I would say the one, the one difference is if you’re talking about, you know, if you’ve gone to a, some kind of higher education, uh, between high school and, um, of course, and this application obviously include that as well. Um, I’m seeing quite a few people, um, asking about the blogs. So I’m just going to post in the public chat.

This is the CollegeAdvisor blog. There’s a bunch of very interesting and, uh, useful, uh, blog posts on all sorts of things, not just essays, but, um, you can find all, all of the sort of free essay, um, blog posts in there. Okay. Our next. [00:42:00] Question is what do, what, if you do not report your AP scores, do schools think that you did poorly on them?

If you do not report them? Great question. You know, again, you know, schools understand the game that they’re, that, that we’re all playing here when it comes to applying to college. Um, you know, if you take AP classes and then don’t take the AP in classes, but then don’t reveal your AP score. The presumption will often be that you scored poorly on the AP exam.

Right? If you didn’t, if you didn’t take the AP exam, there’s, there’s a there’s um, an essay on the common app is called. I think it’s called other essentially a 600 words. You get to explain anything that’s that you haven’t expressed anywhere else. So for example, if you talk the AP and AP class, but didn’t, didn’t take AP exams.

You should, you can denote your rationale for that decision in the optional other essay. Similarly, if you took the AP exam, but did not do well in the APS. [00:43:00] If you look at AP class that I didn’t not do on the AP exam may want me to walk through them, walk through what happened in that other optional essay.

But again, if you choose not to share your AP scores, um, oftentimes the function will be that usually you’re not strained then because, um, the scores report,

um, also while we’re on the other topic, I do want to share something that I’ve heard from several admissions officers, um, that this year there’s a COVID specific, um, section on the common app, which basically says explain anything that has had a major impact relating to, um, the ongoing pandemic. And many admissions officers have said, please don’t use this space to tell me about the fact that you didn’t do this club for this [00:44:00] year.

And that’s why there’s a gap in the resume. They like all admissions officers are aware that COVID happened or, um, or if your grades were slightly lower because of that, that’s like understandable. And that’s something that they can infer that’s. Um, many admissions officers have said, you know, use this to talk about, um, really serious large-scale life changes that were a result of the pandemic, um, like a loss in the family, or, um, major financial burdens or something else that you really need to explain sections of your application as opposed to, well, I didn’t do choir this past year because we couldn’t sing in person.

Um, they would, they would, that would be implied by the fact that the old leaguer you took off was 20, 20 and 2021. Um, our next question is what should I do if I’m homeschooled and I do not have any way to submit the transcript.[00:45:00]

Fair question. I guess I’m a little confused here. Um, don’t have a way to submit or don’t have access to access to a transcript. I will be, I guess it’ll be, it will be different questions. Um, there in the common app, as you kind of play as you, once you put in your academic academic information, there’s an oxygen to note that you are homeschool.

Um, and that will kind of shift how the application works. I guess school will need a way to verify your grade, right? So you should have some, some platform or some way, um, to verify a grades. That’s not just you, right? So even for students who do go to a typical high school while they will self report, their grades, transcripts are required in order to, in order to verify that what students are inputting.

It’s in fact true. And so whether you’re homeschooled or you’re, you know, you’ve switched schools in between high school or any different, any circumstance, you should have a [00:46:00] system to verify, to provide verification to the school that Hey, whatever I’m putting in, when it comes to academics is in fact factually.

Correct. Okay. Our next question is for the two, about 200 word essays, would you recommend breaking the essay into paragraphs or are they fine in blocks? Could you repeat that question? Uh, for essays that are around 200 words, so some of the shorter supplementals would you recommend breaking the essay into paragraphs or are they fine and large blocks again, you do whatever works best for the narrative, right?

Like there’s some, if you’re, there are some students who use those 20 words to, I travel one story that naturally makes sense for after one paragraph. And so essentially we talk about multiple things. Uh, some students write poems or haikus, right? Like there’s no right or wrong way to craft that essay. I guess some of them, I, I don’t want to use the word essay.

There’s no right or wrong way to [00:47:00] craft this 200 words. Ultimately your goal should be to get your point across in a clear manner and to reveal to the school how wonderful you are, whether you do that, whether you do that in one sentence, that’s 200 words, or you do that in a series of poems is really up to you.

I will say that I would, around 200 or 250 words would be about the longest that I would leave at one block because after a certain amount it gets, it just gets hard to read. And, uh, and I think then it’s nice to break it up into chunks. Okay. Our next question is when writing, why this major section. How do you write, how do you write it?

If you are planning on creating your major instead of studying the major youth you’re declaring.

So oftentimes schools, when you’re, when you are telling them what major you want to pick, they will give you the option to pick the other [00:48:00] option. So again, if your, your narrative should be about whatever major you, you put on the common app, right? So it would, if you’re going to put Iowa city math on the common app, you should, what you should write an essay about how much you love math and why you want to study math.

Even if you intend later down the line, just switch into your own major. Um, maybe because there has to be very clear narrative hair, it would seem very strange to a school that you write about that you say you want study math, your essays about whatever are partial choice. What about parts of major you’ve chosen?

So be consistent with your narrative. Uh, if you’re going to pick your own niche, your own major, make sure you’re selecting that option. The other option, um, one from the dropdown box and explaining what other major you want to study, but broadly you should be consistent here, um, because it will, it will, it will look by onto the school.

If you have clashing content, um, around what you want to study,[00:49:00]

I would say also make sure to, if you do want to write about a, make your own major, make sure you’ve looked up the, uh, school’s politics, go on that it should be online. Um, but they probably won’t be very happy if you say I’m going to make my own major. And somewhere online, they have said people cannot make their own major at our school or their major actually exist.

Exactly. Yes. Yeah. Or that major exists. Um, So, if you do want to write about why you’re going to create your own major, make sure you can do that and make sure it’s not something they offer and you’re making a real case for why it matters to you.

Okay. Our next question is if my senior courses are full year, how would I report my senior grades in the January application? Yup. So it’s a very common thing that happens across school. When you put in your, um, [00:50:00] your classwork did option a pick, um, like I think it’s called no grade, um, and to schools will know that it has been graded yet.

And again, your transcript will reflect that as well. So as long as your transcript and what you’re inputting in is both accurate and it’s all the same content of schools will not ding you or reflect poorly on you. If you don’t have grades, like that’s just how school works. Um, and I mentioned before, as part of yours, your transcript, oftentimes schools will get a school.

And that will explain to the college higher school grades, then this personal case, you know, you have year long courses and the grades on offered at that time, but it’s fairly common in schools know how to work with that. Yeah. Okay. Our next question is when we request a recommendation letter, does the notification go to him or her after or before submitting the application to the college?

Do we need to take, oh, I was just going to say, do we need to take into [00:51:00] account a lead time? So yes, heavily times. So the moment you put that request on the common app. So for example, if I put in Hannah’s name today to buy a particular letter from me, after I put her name in, it will go to her inbox and she gets submitted.

You should, you should plan it out. So that you’re you are, you, are you, your letter of recommendation has to be submitted by the deadline of that week. Right. So if you’re playing, for example, a decision and a deadline is November 1st. You should, you should aim to have your application fully end with all of its components by November 1st.

That includes your essays, your transcript, your activities, your supplemental, and your letters of recommendation. So make sure you’re giving your teachers, your counselor, whomever. Who’s right. Whoever’s writing your letter enough lead time to think about what they’re going to write to write it in a submitted by the deadline.[00:52:00]

Generally, in my personal, my personal approaches, I have my students make those requests formally to teachers, uh, in advance of, uh, summer break. And then in August early August, once the portal actually opens up, we will go ahead and formally make that request in that way. There’s generally two to three months a lead time, uh, to get letters in, but you should, you should.

For a few, at least if I was in this three to four weeks to get people enough time to craft a letter, submit and submit it because also especially great well-liked teachers probably are having to write a lot of these. And so you want them to be like, while they’re writing their hundredth letter of recommendation, right.

This person got it to me with more than enough time. And I’m really glad about that. They did that as opposed to oh God, after right. One 12 hours before the deadline. Yeah. Um, and so I’m already not feeling my [00:53:00] happiest about this student as I’m writing it. Yeah. Okay. Our next question is what does one do if they want to declare undecided, does this affect the common app and or supplementary process in any way?

So I would say that school dependent, some schools make admissions decision based on what you’re declaring, uh, in terms of the actual common app. Um, again, they’re only, there’ll be some S so for the core common Epicel, there’s no really implication with supplementals schools might ask you why you chose, why you’ve chosen certain major.

Um, instead they, what you pick undeclared, they might ask you what you may think you want to study. Um, if you don’t, if you don’t fully know, or, you know, essentially what your broader interests are, again, being undeclared is not a new circumstance. It is very common that students will go, um, we’ll that students will go undeclared.

Again. You want to think about like, you [00:54:00] know, often given one thing that I’m interested in studying, and you can find narrative narrative about why you may want to study chemistry or history or both of those things. Okay. Um, and we actually have a webinar from this past February, I believe about, um, how to apply undeclared and do that as successfully as.

Um, okay. Our next question is if I got a two on an AP test, can I retake it again a year later? Great question. I guess that would way depend on, I’m not an expert on AP policy and whether or not that retake is allowed, if it’s allowed, you’re more than welcome to, if not, then I guess you cannot, again, you also want to think about, you know, opportunity cost here.

The amount of time you spent, you spent studying for the AP again, is that bringing value add to you, could that time be spent doing more, more high impact things where your admission, but definitely look at, definitely look at the [00:55:00] AP policy to figure out now what they allow for retakes. Um, and yeah, and as pecan said, the there’s the issue of, if you haven’t formally studied this thing and over a year, um, consider if that is, if studying for it again.

The best thing that you can be doing for your college application. Okay. And your personal wellbeing and your personal happiness, but more importantly, your mental health and personal happiness. Um, our next question is if high school uses Naviance, should I delete the recommenders from within the common app?

Um, generally the answer is yes. I would have talked to a counselor. A lot of times schools will request for Nadia to particular. They will request that letters are submitted on Naviance because Naviance can be linked to the common app. So I’m 90% sure that the answer here is yes, [00:56:00] you should delete them from the common app and make that request on NABI aunts in particular.

Um, and now the analyst should be linked to your common app. Do you make that, uh, to make that happen, talk to your college counselor to figure out if you’re not sure how to link the two. Okay, our next question is, is the rollover feature new? I’ve heard others say your information will be wiped out on August 1st.

The role drawer feature is, I mean, I, I am not a scholar on the common app unwillingly. Um, I it’s, I believe it’s been live for a couple of years. I don’t know when exactly they brought it, brought it into play, but at least for this year, the common app does offer a role or a rollover option. And that was also the case, I believe last year, as well, prior to that, I can’t speak about, but the rollover option is available.

Should you be interested in partaking in it? Um, just because [00:57:00] computers sort of scare me, I would say that if you’ve decided to write your whole, um, personal statement or something before. Your senior year starts or before August 1st have that somewhere else on your computer, just in case, uh, all the content you put on the common app, you should be storing, uh, within a Google doc or a word doc somewhere because to Hannah’s point technology does technology does fail.

Yeah. Um, and you want to always have a back up. Yeah. That just, uh, would not be fun. Um, okay. Let’s see. Our last question is going to be I’m about to start my essays this week. Is it too late to start for early action deadlines? Quick question. Uh, one thing I will add on the rollover thing that wouldn’t be that very clear.

The rollover option works for the main common app for support, for school specific [00:58:00] information that will not roll blower because that can change here. Um, so, so folk maybe could college essays will change year to year. The common app essay is so almost generic that you can really write about whatever you want, but that, that content is static.

College specific information is not. And so you, for example, if you’re applying to NYU, you shouldn’t fill out the NYU information if you’re not actually applying this year, because that information will not roll over as well as of course any recommenders, because that’s also quite specific. So focus purely on content on the main common app tab, um, because that’s, what’s available to you, um, to enter the question that was asked, she asked regarding the too late to start the con the, to the question was either too late to start.

Now I’m about to start my essays this week. Is it too late to start for early action?[00:59:00]

I would say that depends on how fast you rate the quality of your impacts, right? Like if you can craft really strong, early application deadlines can, it can be anywhere from the deadlines this week, for example, on Friday for some schools, some, some earliest schools go up up until December and the convicted to that early.

So again, based on your particular case, when the deadline is plus the viability of you crafting strong essays and strong supplementals, um, I think broadly the answer is yes, it’s based on how, how, how much time you have available and how well you write. You can definitely still make early, but it is truly more on you and your ability to really kind of drive this forward in the next couple of weeks.

Absolutely. Okay. Thank you everyone so much for coming out tonight and thank you so much for presenting again, of course. So this is the end of the webinar. We had a wonderful time [01:00:00] telling you about understanding the common app and here is the rest of our October series. So tomorrow we have understanding UC apply.

Have a great night, everyone. Thank you for one.