End of Summer College “To Do” List

August 24, 2010

The rain here in Massachusetts is making it easier for our students to think about what needs to be completed before school starts.  Some may need a reminder that it will be much harder to find the time for this college prep once they start their classes. If your child is one of many who have not started, this is an excellent week to do so!!

This note focuses on finishing or fine tuning the college essay and registering for the common application.

Many students got a start or finished their main essay last spring. It is a good idea for them to look it over again. A second and third draft, with some time in-between is important. Feedback from a trusted friend, an English teacher, etc is also important but should not take away the student’s voice.

They may want to get a notebook to jot down ideas as they come to them, set a timer for 10 minute sessions of brainstorming ideas or just start to write whatever they feel like. Their goal should be for the college admissions officer get to see a part of them that does not show through on the rest of their application. Remember, the officer will be reading essays all day long; it needs to be interesting enough that he/she will read the whole thing. (They don’t always.)

Overall advice from Alan Gelb, author and essay coach is never to boast, apologize or complain.

Below are two articles that address tips for writing the long personal statement.  The third refers to the short 150-word response on the common app.


Over 400 colleges use the common application. It saves a lot of time and is recommended to use if your child’s school participates. (commonapp.org). Each student should register and save their information each time before logging off.

Students that are all set with the above essays may want to look at the supplemental applications (with possible additional essay questions) from each school that they will apply to.

Hope everyone gets off to a great start this fall.

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