Get Online. College Applications are Live!

Are you getting ancy about college applications? Do you have or know rising seniors who are feeling the heat? unCommon Apps is ready to help.

College Applications: They’re Live! Yes, the Common App is open for business. It’s working and more flexible than in past years. I especially like the Google Drive integration for the essay.

But it’s not enough to complete the questions and upload the Personal Essay. If your student wants to separate himself from the pack, download Supplementing the Supplement, available on iBooks or through my website. Targeted marketing plays a huge role in your child’s candidacy, and that means writing solid supplemental essays and embracing social media positively. As Alan Katzman, founder of Social Assurity, told students in a recent webinar, “If they’re looking [at social media], you have to start creating content.”

Social Assurity and ZeeMee contributed to my new ebook, Supplementing the Supplement, available on iBooks or through my website.


Who’s a fan of ZeeMee? Tulane’s Director of Admissions, Jeff Schiffman. In a recent blog post, Schiffman shares application tips with prospective students, telling them to:

  1. Explain Everything. If your student has a bad grade or semester, it’s time to use the Common App Additional Information box.

  2. Make a ZeeMee Page. ZeeMee is a way for applicants to differentiate themselves and show colleges the other side of the person writing the essay.

  3. Avoid Application Redundancy. Students should show all sides of themselves. That’s why a budding engineer may be better off writing about something other than engineering, or an athlete may want to discuss an interest that’s outside of sports.

  4. Mention Jobs. Schiffman believes that jobs are as important as sports. I agree! Through employment, students may help support the household, earn expenses for college and gain life skills. (Some of my favorite Personal Essays relate to students’ jobs.)

Testing: Counting Down The countdown to August 26th has begun, with many students taking advantage of the new College Board test date. Some are seniors who are retesting, while others are sophomores or juniors taking SAT Subject Tests.

Who requires SAT Subject Tests? Unfortunately, the number is dwindling, despite the fact that they are great credentials. We still have holdout Georgetown, which also stands by its own app (as opposed to the Common App or Coalition App). Engineering colleges (e.g., MIT, Harvey Mudd) and programs often require the tests, as do select colleges of larger universities (e.g., Cornell). When in doubt, check a college’s website for the latest.

Then there’s the essay component of the SAT and ACT, which many colleges no longer require. Which colleges still want to see the essay? Brown, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Morehouse, Princeton, Stanford, the University of California system, Miami (FL), Michigan, Wellesley and Yale are taking a look. The same rule applies: When in doubt, check a college’s website. I almost always recommend that students do the essay regardless.

Business Models: What’s Going On? We know that bootcamps have been used in recent years to bring smart kids and adults up to speed on coding. But bootcamps for college students? According to EdSurge, “more bootcamps are quietly coming to a university near you.” The article cites Duke’s civic engagement faculty who want to even out students’ skills prior to the beginning of the semester. Their bootcamp will be online in evenings and during winter break.

Hot Schools (Hint: They’re in the Mid Atlantic) An article in The Daily Pennsylvanian (where else) calls Penn “the Ivy League institution of choice among future employers.” Job site indeed.com looked at callbacks from employers and found that Penn’s are “30.6 percent higher than the average Ivy League student.” In its report, indeed also praised Penn’s Annenberg School of Communication and Wharton along with the university’s “unique interdisciplinary focus.” Now you know that I’m a fan of Penn’s forward-thinking programs such as NETS (see my forbes.com article). But interdisciplinary? Now that’s Brown’s turf.


Speaking of turf, I totally enjoyed “Why a Top College Football Prospect Chose Princeton,” an article in the Wall Street Journal. We learn that rising senior Brevin White, a quarterback from Lancaster, CA, could have signed on with many Division I powerhouses but has chosen Princeton instead. As a member of the Class of 2022, White plans to study economics and take advantage of the proximity to Wall Street. (Brevin obviously hasn’t taken New Jersey Transit.) Unlike other college options, Princeton slots team practices from 4:30-7:30 pm, a time set aside just for extracurriculars.


Will White fill the stands at Princeton?

A Free Course for Parents! Social Assurity, mentioned above as a contributor to Supplementing the Supplement, is offering a free course for on social media for parents. Gain access by completing and submitting this form.

I’m now a Professional Member, Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA). Twitter: @nberler Email me!

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