What? Common App Essay Not Done?

A road trip, some time at the pool, and the Common App Personal Essay. What more could a student want? Here are some items to keep you and your student current this summer.

Common App: Almost Ready to Launch Last year, the Common App handled one million unique applicants and a submission volume of 4.5 million applications. Who knows how much the volume will climb in 2017-18? The new version, which will be released on August 1, has some enhancements.

Self-reporting of courses and grades. Self-reporting might help admissions officers, but it can be a downer for students. So far, only a limited number of colleges are requiring applicants to grid their courses, including:

  1. Chapman University

  2. George Washington University

  3. The Ohio State University

  4. Purdue University

  5. St. John’s University (NY)

  6. University of Southern California

  7. West Virginia University

Integration of the Google Drive. Nearly all my students develop their essays on Google Docs. When they get to the box for the Personal Essay, they can just upload from the Google Drive, a welcome improvement.

Wait! Could it be that your student has yet to draft the Common App Personal Essay? The prompts have been available for some time, and applicants get to write about . . . themselves! If your student needs help understanding the style and tone of a good personal essay, get in touch. I even have an essay upload on my website!

Counselor-enabled. To help underserved students, the people at the Common App now allow a student to invite a counselor or mentor to check out progress. The student can grant access, but it’s only a preview that the counselors see. Look but don’t touch!

Chapman University: A Popular West Coast Destination

Every year, I have more students interested in Chapman. Recently, I reached out to Casey Decker, Assistant Director of Admission, to find out why the Orange, CA, college is playing so well with my New Jersey students. She replied:

“Chapman itself is active in every sense of the word, both with programs and hands-on learning but also with community and culture. Students at Chapman love getting involved in activities, in classrooms, in their community and collaboration is hugely supported and encouraged on campus. I would say students who are excited about ‘getting their hands-dirty’ through real-life experiences flourish at Chapman because they aren’t afraid to get involved; so many of our programs (Career Development Center, Study Abroad, Career Fair, internships) are incredibly successful because are students take full advantage of them.”

Known for film, music, theater, dance, screen acting and graphic design, the university is expanding. In Fall 2018, it will open the Center for Science and Technology, a 140,000-square-foot complex that will house research labs for students and office space for faculty. It will also launch a new School of Engineering.


Chapman U is appealing with or without self-reporting.

Bucknell: Where Liberal Arts Meets Business

While some students in the Northeast are just hearing about Chapman, Bucknell has always been popular. Interestingly, this liberal arts university just launched a new College of Management which promises to “offer transformative business experiences and educational opportunities grounded in the liberal arts.” Programs include a five-year bachelor of management for engineers, an Institute for Leadership in Technology & Management (ILTM), and a minor in arts entrepreneurship.


Bucky the Bison stops here.

Summer Standardized Testing (Seniors Only, Please!)

The deadline to register for the August 26, 2017, SAT is July 28. This is not a test for juniors to “get it over with.” Rather, it is for seniors who need an extra shot at a higher score or perhaps a chance to try the SAT and compare the results to those of the ACT. Some SAT Subject Tests are also available. By the way, students who took the test in June can finally access their scores next week. 

Don’t Allow Your Student to Drown in Work!

As I get to know a new cohort of rising seniors, it’s interesting to see the courses they’ve taken. Is the student who’s sat through several APs better off than a peer who has taken primarily honors courses? These discussions don’t go away from year to year.

In a recent post, college admissions specialist Cristiana Quinn warns students to know their limit, advising them to start off high school with just a few challenging courses and “add one more high level course per year, if they feel that they can handle it.” She explains, “Many times, individual teachers in several subject areas will end up recommending a student for an honors or AP class without seeing the whole picture. The result is that the combination of 4 or 5 high level courses ends up tanking a student’s GPA and leaves the student exhausted and stressed.” 

As I meet new students from a variety of high schools, I see that schools are not consistent in how they factor high-level courses into the GPA. The result is that colleges may not use the GPA that’s on a student’s transcript, opting to recalculate it. According to Quinn, “Colleges base most of the academic portion of their decision on your 5 core courses each year (science, math, English, history, language). And while they don’t want to see you take basket weaving, your elective courses are really secondary and don’t usually go into the GPA that many top colleges calculate for candidates.”

Questions answered and essay done? Get back in the water! If not, get in touch and I’ll help keep your student afloat.

#collegeapplications #CommonAppPersonalEssay #CommonApplication

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