In early May, I received a call from Bob (not real name) asking me to help him with his Common Application for next fall. My first reaction was, "Uh-oh, either this kid is already freaked out about college admissions or he has a parent who is."
I was wrong.
Turns out that Bob has a lot going on in his life this summer and fall, so working on his Common App in June makes sense.
The Top Six Reasons Why a Student Would Start Working on a College Application VERY Early
With shades of a David Letterman To-10 List, here are the top six reasons why Bob did as much as he could on his Common Application:
6. He wants to apply Early Decision to his favorite college
Early Action, Restricted Early Action and Early Decision deadlines tend to be the first or 15th of November, which means you need to have the Common Application completed, including three essays; the school's supplement (sometimes more essays) finished; and have your recommendation letters, test scores and transcript sent by the due date.
5. He is a very good student and will be taking two AP courses senior year
AP courses take more time and work than regular courses. Even so, college admissions officers don't want students to slough off during their senior year. They expect you to maintain a healthy course schedule and get good grades, in addition to your class work and activities.
4. Football practice for his school starts at the beginning of August -- depending on how well his team does, the season could last past Thanksgiving
Everyone knows that high school sports require practices every afternoon and games during the week and/or weekends (and workouts during the summer). Some fall sports last almost to December, which takes a huge chunk out of your time available to work on applications.
3. His school is out in mid-May
Whether your school is out in May or June, if you have a lot going on during fall semester, taking a week or more during the summer to work on college applications is smart. The idea is that what you complete in the summer will take off pressure in the fall.
2. He has nothing scheduled for the first two weeks of June
Rising seniors need to have time during the summer to relax. On the other hand, come this fall you will be so grateful that you took summer time (when things are less hectic) to get a jump-start on your applications for the fall (when so much is going on).
1. At the end of June, he is going to Chile for a month-long Spanish language immersion program
Whether it's time in another country learning a language, a family vacation, or a week or two set aside to just play, students also need to calm down and relax. Be sure to set aside some time for this.
Individually and together, the above are all excellent reasons for a student to get a jump-start on his or her college applications during June or July.
As Bob and I went through the Common Application, we came up with some information that is useful for students to know.
• On Friday, July 13th at 11:59 pm EST, the 2011-12 Common Application online will shutdown. The 2012-2013 online Common App, as well as individual college supplements, will be available on August 1.
• Right now, the Common App people have made a preview version of the 2012-2013 Common Application form available as a pdf. You cannot type in answers on the form, but can print the form and complete it by hand.
• The Common Application essay questions are the same next year as they were for the 2011-2012 form. They are the following:
Common Application Essay Questions
"A. Short Answer: Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below or on an attached sheet. (1000 characters with spaces)
B. Personal Essay: Please write an essay on a topic of your choice or one of the options listed below. This personal essay helps us to become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself. (250-500 words)
C. Additional Information: Please upload a document here if you wish to provide details of circumstances or qualifications not reflected in the application. (No word count)"
Just so you know, Bob has filled in all of the data on the 2012-2013 form, has written and edited his essays. Bob is neither uptight, nor badgered; he's just crazy...like a fox.
I hope this information helps you decide when to get started with your applications.