Time to Make the Donuts

(This newsletter is written to your student, so feel free to pass it along.)

Summer is a time to kick back and take a break from the hectic pace of the school year. And I fully support that.

But, if you’re a rising senior with plans to attend college, it is not a good idea to completely disengage from the college prep process between now and September. There are lots of things to do to make your summer productive, but today I am going to focus on just one: getting your main Common Application essay written. That means completely done, prior to August 1.

What’s the rush, you may ask? Well, here goes…

On August 1, the 2013-2014 version of the newly revamped Common Application (CA) will be live and you will be able to start filling it out. And the extra essays (on forms called “supplements”) will be available for your schools.

Yes, I said extra essays. Many of the schools to which you apply will ask additional essay questions on their own forms. Each of these will require a thoughtful response and more than one draft.  Not to mention filling out the rest of the Common App and working on any other applications for schools that do not use the CA. So, that will be your job for August.

Now fast forward to September. Yes, some kids do wait until the fall to start any of this. And they do get the job done. There’s a difference, however, between getting it done and getting it done well, much of which may relate to the quality of writing that is submitted as things get rushed with a heavy fall course load, extracurricular activities, a job, etc.  (And, oh yeah, it’s your senior year and you might want to save time for some fun too.)

In addition, students who are happy with their grades from junior spring may want to apply to schools that offer an early action option. Those due dates are usually November 1st  or 15th. Things get very busy very quickly in the fall! And you can’t slack off on those senior grades as they do matter and are often what a college waits to see before they decide to accept you.

So again, here’s my suggestion: Finalize your common app essay now, in the next two weeks, before August 1st arrives. Ask any older kid when they started their college essay and apps and I guarantee you that the ones who stayed productive during the summer are glad they did. (Unless you prefer to spend Thanksgiving weekend trying to write essays under pressure, in which case, feel free to ignore everything I just said.)

Good luck with everything. Stay steadily on track and you’ll do just fine.

P.S. In case you don’t have the 5 essay prompts for this year, here is the link:


The big news is that this year, there is no longer a prompt titled, “Topic of your Choice.”

For more concrete tips on essay writing, see my newsletter from last summer.  Just make sure to use the CA prompts from this year, listed above (note that the word count limit has been raised to 650).

Happy writing!

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