Over One Million Common App Users In 2011

Common App LogoThe Common App revealed this week that it had over one million registered users for the first time in its history this year. This is a huge milestone for the site and also shows that applications (and the ease with which students can apply to large numbers of schools) are increasing to never-before-seen levels.

Remember to check in with our recent reminders about double-checking your submission status with the Common App and especially your payment status for all your applications. Finishing your submission is a multi-step process, so make sure all your documentation, supplements, and payments have been received by your schools before you consider yourself finished.

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Regular Decision Deadlines Fast Approaching

Colleges That Change Lives offered a sage piece of wisdom a few weeks ago. "In a few short months, no one will ask you about where you didn't get in... you will be celebrating all your college acceptances. Keep smiling!"

Hard to argue with that. For those of you who were denied acceptance at your top choice (or chose not to apply early), remember that the work in front of you is all that matters. Wrap up those remaining applications, send them out, and relax. The admission season eventually ends, and you'll be focused on your acceptances above all other things.

You can find the Colleges That Change Lives Facebook page here for continued updates.

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Last Chance For Your Free Essay QuickFinder in 2011!

Remember that College Essay Organizer's Essay QuickFinder is FREE for these last two weeks of 2011! Get access to every essay question you'll need to write this year, including supplemental, scholarship, optional, and program-specific questions you won't find on the Common App -- all organized in one place!

Get Started Today For FREE!

  1. Click here and create your Student account. It takes just a few seconds.
  2. Select "Essay QuickFinder - up to 20 colleges" under "Choose Your Services"
  3. Enter promo code blogfree1 and press tab - your Essay QuickFinder is free!

This offer applies only to high school seniors - no counselors. Each student gets only one free account.

Once you create your account, simply select your colleges and College Essay Organizer will do the rest!

All students who create their accounts will be eligible to enter our Best Essay Contest and win up to $500 cash!





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A Simple Common App Tip For The End Of The Year

Common App LogoOur friends at the Common App offer useful tips and tidbits about the application process every few days on their Facebook page. They've reminded us of one of the most important tips there is - not to mention one of the ones you're most likely to forget:

Don't forget: Go to your My Colleges page and check the Application, Supplement, and Payment statuses for each of your colleges. If the status does not show as green, then you have not submitted that item--even if you think you have. Please do this now. It's much better to discover this today than after the deadline has passed.

Simple, but important, no? Make sure that your applications have fully submitted, and that the payments have gone through. As they say, much better to catch this today than after the deadline has passed.

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What To Do If You're Accepted

We've spent a good amount of time talking about what to do if you're denied acceptance from your top choice college. Here are a few students showing exactly what to do if you are accepted.

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Writing Commitment Letters to Colleges And Universities

Commitment. It's a big thing.

This time of year is stressful for high school seniors for many reasons, not least of which is the early decision or early action notification. Though your chances of attending your top choice are higher if you apply early, acceptance is never a sure thing.

If you've been deferred by your early decision option, or you made a late decision on which college you really want to attend, there are ways to channel that anxious energy into something tangible that can actually increase your chances of getting in.

Experts suggest that writing a Commitment Letter will not only help reduce your stress but might also be just what the college needs to tip the balance in your favor.

When the regular decision process unwinds, college admissions officers will be at their desks struggling to determine how many students will accept their offers. After all, they don't want to accept students that are not likely to actually attend. A commitment letter lets the college know that you are passionate about enrolling, and that if admitted, you would definitely accept the offer.

This love letter should demonstrate your enthusiasm for the school and include important updates on your academic and extracurricular life. There's no need to repeat what you've already told them - this should be new info, along with the heartfelt expression of hope that you'll be accepted. Don’t you want your favorite school to know that you’re still working hard on your AP courses, and have now become president of the chess team, or whatever else you might be up to these days - and that all the while you’re dreaming of the day when you can pack up your things, leave home, and finally be on their campus?

Consider this to be one last college essay, just make sure not to be unfaithful. Committing to a school and not attending can reflect negatively on your high school, affecting future students’ chances. Also, colleges sometimes share notes on applicants, and if they realize that they have all gotten the same commitment letter, it might hurt you. No one wants a player.

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Free Help For Your Regular Decision Applications

If you're cramming in the remaining work for your regular decision applications, remember that College Essay Organizer's Essay QuickFinder is FREE for the remainder of the year! Get access to every essay question you'll need to write this year, including supplemental, scholarship, optional, and program-specific questions you won't find on the Common App -- all organized in one place!

Get Started Today For FREE!

  1. Click here and create your Student account. It takes just a few seconds.
  2. Select "Essay QuickFinder - up to 20 colleges" under "Choose Your Services"
  3. Enter promo code blogfree1 and press tab - your Essay QuickFinder is free!

This offer applies only to high school seniors - no counselors. Each student gets only one free account.

Once you create your account, simply select your colleges and College Essay Organizer will do the rest!

All students who create their accounts will be eligible to enter our Best Essay Contest and win up to $500 cash!





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Early Decision Notifications Rolling In

Many of you who've applied to schools with early deadlines of 11/1 and 11/15 are hearing back this week. If you've been accepted, congratulations! You're about to begin the most relaxing nine months of your lives.

For those of you who are denied entry to your top choice - don't fret. There are many, many fish in the sea, and though it may seem that your top choice is all there is, once you find the school that's right for you, you'll wonder why you were every interested in anyplace else.

Now's the time to get started on the rest of your writing if you haven't already, and to get organized with the Essay RoadMap to minimize the amount of work that's required of you. As always, let us know if you need help getting started! That's what we're here for.

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Getting Your Recommendations In

Common App LogoAt this time of year, with certain Early Action and all Regular Decision applications getting close to the deadline, it can be important to revisit some of the basics to avoid last-minute... how do we put this delicately... freak-outs.

Students should remind their counselors and teachers that any forms sent by mail should be addressed to the admission office of each college to which they are applying. This certainly sounds basic, but the good people at the Common App remind us with their helpful Facebook updates that these kinds of errors are anything but uncommon.

For teachers and counselors, please do not send anything to the Common Application offices. Though they will (thoughtfully!) post it return to sender, these kinds of mistakes, if made at the last minute, can weigh heavily on students. And if you know of people who are confused about where to send their recommendations, be sure to point them here.

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What Not To Write About For College

What Not To Do

We can think of a few things not to do this application season. This... actually, this is one of those things.

When your pile of applications gets overwhelming, you may feel the urge to just "churn one out." If you're writing so many pieces, what's the harm in focusing on a few and doing a few others more quickly? Right? Well, rushing can lead to simple mistakes, especially in the choice of topic. You do not want this thing to feel tossed-off.

In fact, sometimes knowing what not to do can be as useful as knowing what you ought to do. There are many essay topics that spring to mind quickly. These ideas can be enticing - in many cases they seem to almost write themselves - until you realize that they don't paint a particularly flattering portrait of you, or that the reason they sprung to mind so easily is that you've read essays just like them several times before.

Always look out for cliche! Avoid it like the plague, as well as essay topics that center themselves around your faults or around things that you are not, rather than things that you are.

Any advice about what not to do, of course, always comes with a grain of salt. There are always exceptions, so use this only as a guide. Just make sure that if you cover one of the following topics, you do so in a unique way that highlights your strengths:

  • Crime you've committed
  • Character flaws
  • Excuses for your shortcomings
  • The "Big Game"

This last one might surprise you - the big success at a sporting event is a common topic, and it talks about a positive, emotional event. So why not use it?

It often leads you down very well-worn paths without necessarily telling us much about what you will be able to bring to an academic or social environment. More often than not, these essays focus on one-off events that don't translate to your everyday life. But worse, they aren't memorable.

Picture an admissions officer reading through five hundred essays. Five. Hundred. Essays. How many of these feel the same? How many are about a success in a sporting event? Push further, past cliche and into the elements of who you are that are specific to you and what you do. Things no one else in your school can say.

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