College application season starts August 1!
Because I feel so strongly that early preparation is key to success in applying to college, I am going to revisit a topic I discussed last summer: the actual application process.
There are a few different types of applications to use: The Common Application, The Coalition Application, individual college applications, and State College and University applications. While the Common Application and the Coalition Application both have parts of their applications available to work on sooner, most colleges will not begin accepting completed applications before Aug. 1, and some may not open until later. The nice thing is that a student can begin working on most applications during the summer, before school starts and the hectic last year of high school gets rolling.
Here are the different applications of which you should be aware:
The Common Application – This was the pioneer in designing an application that could be sent to multiple schools. One only needs to complete basic information (name, address, scholastic background and records, extracurricular activities) once, as well as only write one major essay, and then complete some supplemental information for each school where you want to apply (some schools will ask for a short supplemental essay). There are over 750 schools that use this application. Students can apply to as many schools as they want using this system, but be aware that application fees will be charged per school, so don’t go crazy applying! The application is available at commonapp.org.
The Coalition Application – Like the Common Application, this can be used to apply to multiple schools. There are just over 140 schools that use this application – many overlap with the Common Application – but there are a few that use this application exclusively (like the University of Washington), so you may need to complete both if you are applying to multiple schools. One of the features of this application is that a student can begin uploading schoolwork into their “locker” as early as freshman year of high school. The locker can be used to store special projects or work that can highlight your academic and extracurricular activities as you progress through high school. Instead of having to do all of it at once, this gives you the chance to do it as you go along. So, rising freshmen, check this out and get started! The application is available at coaltionforcollegeaccess.org.
Other Applications – There are still some schools that want their own application and are not part of either one of the combined application systems, like some private schools, many public schools and the UC and Cal state systems. The University of California has revamped their application for the coming cycle, so make sure to review it soon. Check school’s individual websites for which application they use.
The next decision you have to make (after choosing where you are applying) is if you want to apply Early Decision, Early Action, or in the regular cycle of admissions. Lots of students like to wait until the last minute to get things done, but this is one time that you will want to be aware of your choices, make your decisions and get your work done early. So, what is the difference between these choices?
According to the College Board:
Early Decision (ED) applicants (binding) apply early (usually in November) to their first-choice college; receive an admission decision from the college well in advance of the usual notification date (usually by December); agree to attend the college if accepted and offered a financial aid package that is considered adequate by the family; apply to only one college Early Decision; apply to other colleges under regular admission plans; withdraw all other applications if accepted by ED; and send a nonrefundable deposit well in advance of May 1.
Early Action (EA) applicants (non-binding) apply early; receive an admission decision early in the admission cycle (usually in January or February, but can be earlier); consider acceptance offer (do not have to commit upon receipt); apply to other colleges under regular admission plans; and give the college a decision no later than the May 1 national response date.
For regular applicants, as the name implies, one applies in the normal admission cycle and is notified in the normal time frame, usually in March, but no later than April 1.
Why apply early? It shows a school that you have a strong interest in that school, and in the case of Early Decision, that you are willing to commit right away. You also get your decisions earlier, thereby alleviating the stress of college admission sooner and giving you more time to make your final decision in the case of EA. Why not apply early? If you think that you will have grades in your first semester of senior year that will dramatically improve your chances of being admitted, you might want to wait until regular cycle.
Rising seniors, the prompts for the essays are available on both the Common and Coalition Applications NOW. Spend some of your free time this summer wisely by choosing an essay and starting to work on it. Complete whatever you can on both applications before you get bogged down by school work. For UC and other applications, make sure to mark your calendars to look at the application requirements and essay prompts on Aug. 1, and get started. Be mindful of deadlines, and don’t wait until the last minute to apply! If you want help with applications, essay topics, proofreading or any part of the application process, contact me now for an appointment.
Maryanne Hogan is an Independent College Admissions Consultant working with students on Maui. Visit her website, thecollegeauntie.com, for more information or to make an appointment.