There are several application elements required by each college/university. Let’s walk through each one.
1. Common Application – most schools require the student to submit the Common Application, an application that was built to streamline the application process. The positive is that the application has improved significantly each year and is now pretty user-friendly. You can also use the Common App to apply to more schools more easily than before the advent of the App. Of course, this also brings increased competition, as the barrier to applying is lower than ever before and more students are applying to each school.
Common Application Elements:
The Common Application consists of basic background information, test scores, grades and curriculum, activities, and an essay/personal statement.
There are up to 10 spots for activities and you fill in as many as are applicable to you.
There are 5 choices for the essay and you select 1 to answer. The Common Application essay questions for 2015-2016 were released on March 31, so I recommend you go ahead and take a look at those!
There are MANY pitfalls that must be avoided in the essay and activities sections and each needs to be filled out in a way that best showcases who the applicant is as a person. Test scores only tell part of the story, and the personal statement and activities sections are crucial areas for showcasing personality, interests, and goals.
2. College-Specific Essays – most schools have several college-specific essays. Take your time with these, as they are the main avenue through which application reviewers see YOU. Anyone can score well on a quantitative exam or in classes, so the essays are where you really showcase your personality, interests, and goals.
The school is looking to determine if you will be successful at their school, and the essays are one very important way to show how you will be.
Take the essays VERY seriously. This is absolutely where you should spend the most significant amount of time.
The Application Authority is an expert at essays, call us today!
3. Test Scores – for now, many schools accept either the ACT or SAT (with variations occurring by location). If you can’t get your test scores where they need to be, I suggest taking a test prep course. Most students see a significant increase in test scores after the course. Another option would be to switch the tests. If you are really struggling with the SAT, switch over to the ACT. These exams differ in significant ways and it is important to try them both.
4. Recommendations – many applicants falsely believe that recommendations don’t matter. Recommendations DO matter. To a certain extent. No applicant needs 5 recommendation letters that have the same general, common theme. A student should be strategic about from whom they get a recommendation, and it is the student’s job to let the recommender know what information would be best to include in the letter.
English and other teachers at your school may be fantastic, but they are trained to teach their subject, not to stay up to date with college standards and write recommendation letters. Help them help you.
For help with your application, don’t wait, call or email us today!

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