Hello, readers! I hope you all had a fun Independence Day weekend, with lots of food, fun, and fireworks. This week I bring you post number two of my three-part series covering the college application process. Here we will continue discussing the common app along with additional paperwork and the role of the high school main office.
Keep in mind, the common app may not be the easiest website to navigate. For the last several years there were common complaints regarding poor layout of pages, confusing instructions, and difficulty transitioning from page of the application to the next. Largely in response to this criticism, the website underwent major changes last year, but there were many bugs in its first rollout. The Daily Beast covered this last November at the following link: ttp://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/11/01/the-2014-common-app-is-a-glitch-ridden-nightmare-for-college-seniors.html. We here at ProperChannel hope that our website will help avoid issues like this, but for now we must make the best with what is available. The best advice on the common app is to prepare in advance. This is not something you will do in one sitting or even in one day. During junior year one should begin gathering materials that will be required. This way when it comes to actually completing the application most of the effort will be filling boxes because you’ll already know what to put in them.
Request a transcript from your high school’s main office in advance, they will have to submit it to your desired schools on your behalf, but you have to prepare the envelopes. This reminds me of a more general point that my guidance counselor shared with me in June of my junior year of high school: Buy lots of envelopes, manila and white. Every school may require at least a few for different things, and the multiplication starts to add up. Also by adhesive labels on which you can computer print the addresses of the admissions offices of all your target schools. This way you avoid the risk of the postal service misreading your handwriting, which could cause delays in application processing that could be disastrous for your admissions success. These addresses can be accessed on the schools’ websites, so this is another item one can check off the to-do list in advance.
Back to specific deliverables. Talk to teachers early about recommendations. Different ones are more willing to write than others, and students generally know who’s who, so it is likely that the teachers you ask will receive many other requests. These recommendations may be in the format of a letter, a fill-out form with substantial “additional comments” space (think of this as a mini-letter), or both. These forms can be coordinated with your high school’s office, but this is something you must be on top of. Speaking of the high school office, many high schools have guidance counselors or post-high school advisers. These people are an invaluable resource. They have extensive experience with the application process, may also need to write you recommendations, and some even have contacts in certain admissions offices. Be sure to speak to them early and regularly. Again, I cannot emphasize enough how knowledgeable and helpful they are.
That’s it for now. Next week will be the last part of our college application series, discussing the role parents play in the application process along with some more requirements for the application and interviews.