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Beware the Quirks of the Common App!

Written by College Whisperer  |  20. October 2011

As the frenzy to file college applications before deadline (be it Early Decision, Early Action or Regular Decision) heightens, that finger drawers perilously close to the dreaded "submit" button. With the Common App serving as the very foundation of your foray into college admissiondom, you scrutinize every word, each digit, all the dotted "i"s and crossed "t"s. You pore over your personal statement, short answers and supplemental essays, making sure they give voice to the very essence of heart and soul. You "Save and check for errors" a thousand and one times, just to be certain you haven't overlooked that singular entry that could make or break your application. And then, confident at last that you have given it your all, you arrive at the "Signature" page, ready to take that giant leap for all mankind -- or, at least, for one harried and beleaguered college-bound high school student. You check off all of the boxes next to the plethora of colleges you are applying to. You "Print Preview," and check those squares. You certify. You Sign. You date. And then, with breath held and caution to the wind, you decidedly hit "submit." Done? Well, not exactly. Dollars to donuts, Common App comes right back at ya with an error message, informing you that some or all of the colleges you are applying to require the submission of the "Supplement" prior to submission of the Common app itself. Soooooooo, you go to the "Supplement" section, reviewing every last one of 'em for the umpteenth time, then forging ahead gallantly, pressing "Submit" for each school's supplement. Back again to the "Signature" page, where every last one of those checked boxes is now unchecked, your entries having been unceremoniously erased. You again check off all of the boxes next to the multitude of colleges you are applying to. You "Print Preview," and check those squares. You certify. You Sign. You date. And then, assured that you are now ready to roll, you sally forth and hit "submit." Finished? Not quite. Up pops the advisory that some or all of the colleges you are applying to require PAYMENT (and here you thought this was all being done out of the goodness of the hearts of the college admissions gods :-) before submission of the main application. And so, you submit, if to nothing else, to the whim, fancy and utter quirkiness of the Common App, going through the payment process (credit card, check or waiver of one kind or another). Receipts printed. Emails received. Fingers worn to the bone, you proudly proclaim, "Mission Accomplished!" Not so fast, ye of Common App faith! Seems you -- and a good many Common App filers -- have fallen in to the Common App's trap for the weary and unsuspecting. You assume that, having paid your way, many times over, and having receipts in hand and emails in your inbox, your applications have been submitted to your colleges of choice. But nooooooooooooooo! Be not fooled by that false sense of Common App security; the logic and reason of an-all-in-one pay and submit, as if you were making a purchase on Amazon, having quietly fallen by the wayside. Apparently, the folks at Common App (who still don't see "250 to 500" words in the personal statement as a "limit," but rather, the fundamentals of the English language aside, consider same to be a "suggestion"), haven't quite figured this one out. [Or could it be that they are simply -- perhaps unwittingly -- testing to see if you can follow instructions?] One more step to go before those applications are actually submitted for the consideration of college admissions officers everywhere, each waiting with baited breath, and a truckload of caffeinated beverages, to receive your pearls of wisdom. Return, once more, to the "Signature" page, clicking on those now vacant boxes; recertifying that which has been certified up the literal wazoo; sign, date, and then -- with trumpets blaring and angels circling above (even they, by now, have given up and gone home) -- pounce upon that "submit" button (presuming the "enter" key hasn't worn out or fallen off). Voila! Now you have submitted you applications. Congrats! Rest for the weary? Welllllllll, maybe by the time the holidays (and we're not saying which ones) roll around. Make sure you submit your SAT and/or ACT scores to each college. Submit any and all required forms, envelopes, etc. to Guidance. Update Naviance, if your high school uses it. Be certain that EVERYTHING -- on your end, the school's end, and College Board/ACT Inc.'s end -- is submitted to the colleges you are applying to in advance of the application deadline date(s) [well in advance for SAT submissions, unless you want to pay extra for College Board's so-called "expedited" service], lest your application become destined for the "wait and see" pile, or, worse yet, the cyber equivalent of the "circular file." Then, keep on checking those emails, avoiding the temptation to delete everything that isn't coming from your favorite online store. Colleges will write, sometime just to say hi, but, more often than not, with a purpose. Open. Read. Follow instructions (i.e., set up your personal account on the college website). And don't dare forget to follow the status of your application, NOT via Common App (their work on your behalf is now done), but rather, through the personal portal you've established on the website of each college you've applied to. Ahhh. To sleep, perchance to dream? There will be plenty of time to sleep after college! You've applied. Mazel Tov! Now, the groundwork having been laid for your admission, it's time to look for, and actually find the money to pay for the college you will be heading off to next fall. Onward, brave soldiers, to the search for scholarships and grants... * * * The college market is more competitive than ever. You need to be as well. Reach out to College Connection TODAY (we can't call you), and be on the road to college admission success tomorrow! Check out all of College Connection's fare (or create your own) at www.CollegeConnect.info. Call us at 516-345-8766.

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