Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Nov 1 is knocking on our door!

 The first big wave of deadlines is upon us, as November 1 is next Friday! But now is not the time to stress - remember, every single part of this process has detailed instructions available so nothing should leave you guessing. Have questions about Financial Aid? That is what Financial Aid portions of college websites are for. Common App giving you trouble? Check the Known Issues page to learn if your problem is already in the queue to be fixed. Here are some tips for this final week of October - let Halloween be the scariest part of the season, not college apps!

1) I've already sent this out to every senior and senior parent/guardian, but I'll remind you again. If you are applying EA or ED somewhere, be sure to check their Financial Aid instructions (on their school specific website) to see if a CSS Profile is due. The CSS Profile (more info here) is a Financial Aid packaging tool used by some schools and it is often due in November if you are an EA/ED applicant. If you want to be considered for Financial Aid, get this completed on time! Not every school asks for the CSS profile, so you'll need to double check for yourself to see if it is needed. You now start to see why I don't recommend applying to more than 10 schools . . . .

2) Deadlines are guidelines for the latest something can be completed, but they shouldn't be a sign to you that you need to wait that long to get something done. Even if you are applying Regular Decision with a January deadline, you should absolutely be polishing your essay now. With that said, some schools are being flexible with their deadlines due to the Common App shenanigans. This is a happy benefit of the new launch, not something to rely on or use as a crutch.

3) If a student is applying Early Decision via the Common App, the parent/guardian must digitally 'sign' their ED agreement. The place to do this is sent to you via email, but unfortunately the Common App does not have the link the is embedded in the email identified as a hyperlink. Don't let this fool you, use your cursor to find the hidden link so you can complete the online signature. That will then allow me to complete the counselor portion on time.

4) Deadlines are for students at 99.9% of colleges. I cannot force your teachers to get their letters done earlier than they are due. Heck, I can't even force them to get their letters done when they are late! Don't let yourself get stressed about the parts of this process you can't control. Be happy with your essay. Triple check your Common App. Verify that you spelled things correctly and that you are working hard in your senior classes. Don't stress over the school documents. I get to do that ;) Just be sure your Naviance account is up to date and the correct rounds of admission are listed.

5) Many of you re-tested for the October SAT. You are getting your scores back this week. You should order your score reports immediately when they are available. It can take weeks for the score to get to the college, they are prepared for that, but you should not let any days go to waste. You can (and should) also go ahead and send your scores to any school where you know they eventually need to go, even if you haven't applied yet. Do not be tempted to rush your scores. This is a con by the Common App to squeeze even more money out of you. Just send them regular. Rushing them costs more and just means they will arrive on paper and sit in a mail room until a human opens them. Sending them regular, they will be transmitted electronically.

6) The Common App essay can be edited twice after it is submitted for future schools that you submit to, but I don't recommend that you submit a draft that you aren't happy with. I get the sense, based on the volume of questions, that some of you are planning to just get something down on paper for your EA schools and then keep revising your essay for the schools you are applying to Regular. Why are you doing this?? Use time management to plan ahead and get things ready for all schools. Yes, if you find an error and can correct it for subsequent applications, be my guest and fix it. But to send a "rougher draft" to some EA schools and a "final draft" to other RD schools is not encouraged. I get it, you can keep refining and refining for weeks, but write your essay, edit it, and call it a day. There are always supplemental essays to obsess over. . . . .