4 Tips for a Strong Common App

The following piece was written by Linda Abraham. Linda has been featured in our Admissions Expert series and is the President and Founder of Accepted.com.


College applicants – have you looked at your calendar today? It’s already NOVEMBER! It’s time to crack down, get serious, and crank out one uncommonly great Common Application.

The following four tips will help you manage your apps over the next few weeks:

1. Give yourself time

Well-crafted, thoughtful essays don’t just pop into existence on the eve of your deadline. Rather, they require time and attention – usually in the form of multiple drafts and careful revision. The 500 words in your Common App personal statement allow you to showcase your personality and talents, and if your college doesn’t request an additional essay, then those 500 words are your sole opportunity to do so. Don’t rush this important process. Start now and give yourself time to polish your gem.

2. Think how others will view your application

Once you’ve filled out your application’s forms and boxes and have a good working draft of your personal statement, it’s time to step back and think about how the college adcom will view your data. Are all of your test scores and transcripts accurate? Are your job descriptions and extracurricular activities clear? Have you focused on achievements and not just on descriptions of responsibilities? Is your personal statement interesting and persuasive? Have you made effective use of examples? Does it provide key information about who you are?

3. Proofread, proofread, proofread! 

You may think you’re done with your application once you’ve ensured that all sections are filled out and that all data is accurate. But is your personal statement well-written? Have you checked your grammar and spelling? You need to edit all sections of your application, with a strong focus on your personal statement. Read your essay aloud to listen for errors that your eyes may have missed. Ask a teacher or parent to review your writing. View the final document to ensure proper formatting.

4. Submit before the dinger

Submitting your application may take more time than you realize, so waiting until the very last minute is not wise. Leave yourself time to troubleshoot as well as to avoid last minute panic and missing the deadline. Browsers crash. Servers overload. Technical glitches beyond your control happen (especially this year when the Common App website and healthcare.gov have something in common: bugs). Submit early.


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The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.