Jump Start Your College Application

You've got questions about the college application and admissions process. The College Whisperer has the answers. Ask The College Whisperer.

Rebecca of Lawrence, NY writes:

I'm the parent of a soon-to-be high school senior and want to know when we can get started on college applications.

The College Whisperer responds:

That would be the editorial "we," right? LOL.

The Common Application, which is the starting point for the admission process at most colleges and universities, does not go "live" for those hoping to enter the ivy-covered gates in the fall of 2013 until Aug. 1.

That said, high school students and their parents (as well as counselors and advisors) can get a sneak peek of the complete Common App (sans Supplements), including the essay questions, at https://www.commonapp.org/CommonApp/Docs/DownloadForms/2012/2012-13FY-FinalHighlightedPreview.pdf.

This should be a good starting point, particularly in getting those creative juices flowing in connection with creating a vibrant, nuanced, and highly critical personal statement.

Here are the essays, with instructions, that will appear on the application:

Personal Essay.
Please write an essay of 250-500 words on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below, and attach it to your application before submission. Please indicate your topic by checking the appropriate box. This personal essay helps us become acquainted with you as a person student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself. NOTE: Your Common Application essay should be the same for all colleges. Do not customize it in any way for individual colleges. Colleges that want will ask for them on a supplement form.

*Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

*Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.

*Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

*Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.

*A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.

*Topic of your choice.

Students will also be asked to "briefly elaborate" (as in, make a long story short) on one extracurricular activity or work experience.

Thinking caps on. Pencils down. We're in the exploratory stage at this point. A figurative glimpse into the future, as you or your child finishes up the junior year, decides what to do on summer vacation, and gears up for the great college application frenzy that follows in the fall.

A postscript to the Common App essay word count: "250-500 words" is a suggestion, not a limitation. Go longer than a Tweet, shorter (by far) than War and Peace. More on the essay in future blog posts.

By the way, with the "first look" at the Common App comes this advance notice: There's no better time to begin planning for college, and staking your claim on admission to the college of your choice, than now!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.

Who knows what peril lurks in the college application and admissions process? The College Whisperer knows. . .

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The College Essay Expert July 11, 2012 at 12:41 PM
USA Today did a great piece on 5 top college essay blunders. I’m going to add some of my own: One mistake I see kids making is trying to cram everything they know/want/think into one essay. An entire life experience – whether you an octogenarian or a teen – can’t really be fit into 250-500 words. An essay is not a résumé, after all. Rather, one thought, one quirk, one person or book who moved you in a unique way gives you a better opportunity to explore – and explain – your thinking. Zelda Fitgerald once wrote that what she missed most about her father after he died was the particular way he tented his fingers when he spoke. That single detail brought all of her emotions – loss, love, the power of memory - to light. What is the one detail or anecdote that can become the focal point for your essay? It is worth taking the time to think about that before you write. For more tips, go to The College Essay Expert. (http://collegeessayexpert.com)
The College Whisperer™ July 11, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Right you are, College Essay Expert. Amazing how something so simple can -- and does -- evoke not only great imagery but vast emotion, weaving a story and portraying persona that, figuratively, brings the applicant to life in the eyes of the college admissions officer. As I always tell my students, it is the essay that, in many respects, sets them apart from the thousands of other applicants vying for very few spots in the freshman class. Moreover, it is not only what you say that matters, but how you say it! http://collegeconnection.yolasite.com/the-essay.php
Helen P wardle November 11, 2012 at 05:45 AM
i would like to ask about this jumstart? i really dont know what is it? my friend told me this morning i am trying to apply this job, but i dont know how to do? please explain it to me, helen p. wardle
Helen P wardle November 11, 2012 at 05:46 AM
i am really interested this


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