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Summer Action Items for College Applicants

Depending on their high school, students have either taken final exams or switched into summer mode—unless they’re rising seniors. Here’s what’s trending just in time for their summer.

Supplements: Now Available on iBooks! Knowing how students need to boost their profile with colleges, I partnered with Social Assurity and ZeeMee to create Supplementing the Supplement. It’s available on iBooks or as a pdf on my website. Students an use it on their smartphones!

Now on iBooks!

Students should work on supplements earlier rather than later, as any reader of the ebook can see. It’s very important to take notes on college visits to make the process smoother.

Common App: Ready, Set, Self-Report! The Common App opens on August 1. A Washington Post article by Valerie Strauss recounts anticipated changes to the Common App, including:

Self-reporting of grades. In recent years, some colleges that don’t accept the Common App (e.g., Rutgers) have asked students to self-report their high school grades, which can be not only tedious but also prone to error. For the 2017-18 application cycle, we’re told that students will be inputting their high school grades year by year in the Common App even though colleges receive official transcripts. (Students can already self-report their standardized test scores.)

Integration of the Google Drive. This will allow students to access their work and will be a welcome addition.

Assignment of advisers. Following the example set by the Coalition App, a rival system implemented in 2016-17, the Common App will allow students to invite advisers to review their applications. Clearly, that’s intended for underserved students. Strauss quoted an independent counselor: “So it’s possible an eager rising senior could have her counselor, her parents, her boyfriend who attends [insert impressive sounding name] University, her lawyer uncle, and her three BFFs to view and comment on her Common App work.”

Common App Personal Essay: Own It by Labor Day My students know that the Common App Personal Essay should be ready to go by Labor Day. This is a 650-word opportunity to tell an applicant’s story as only that applicant can do. For 2017-18, the essay prompts were modified slightly. If your student is stuck or stumbles, the writing process or prompt selection may be off. Get in touch for assistance.

College Tours: What to Do While summer isn’t the best time to see a campus, it is often the only option for a family. (Sometimes the students on campus are in pre-college or other special programs and are not part of that college’s student body.) Before you visit a college, look on its website to see whether there are tours and information sessions, and sign up if required. Take photos and notes if you’re touring several campuses, go inside dorms and other buildings, and check out the surrounding area to see whether it’s a good fit for your student.

I recommend that students apply Early when possible, and these decisions are far more difficult without (another) visit to a college.

Summer Testing: Score! Once upon a time, the ACT was a Midwest test. No more! Education Week tells us that the ACT has surpassed the SAT in popularity, with a volume of 2.09 million students compared with the SAT’s 1.64 million. At the University of Pennsylvania, in fact, more applicants reported ACT results than SAT results. According to the article, “Some believe the ACT will remain dominant, since more states give it for free during the school day, and the jittery students who abandoned the SAT during its 2016 redesign will be hard to win back.”

Penn applicants have their ACT together.

If your student is interested in retesting, College Board will offer the SAT and some SAT Subject Tests on August 26. The ACT will resume on September 9.

This counselor likes to see students retake tests unburdened by school obligations, so the August and September dates are a really good idea. Everything to Gain Why would any students not use the wonderful platform? Colleges that join set awards called micro scholarships for student achievements such as grades and extracurriculars; the student, if accepted, can cash in. Last week, Education Dive reported that some great colleges, including University of Chicago, Grinnell, Harvey Mudd, Penn and Wash U joined the platform.

Parents: Urge your underclassman to set up an account on They even provide financial guidance. Students can fill in information for previous years in high school.

Don’t sweat the process on these warmer days. Email me, and don’t forget Supplementing the Supplement!

Featured image: Pre-college students on the Brown campus.


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