Cramming the Common App

As people prepare to ring in the New Year, many high school students of the Class of 2014 have a much different agenda in mind. The deadline for a majority of college applications is only a few days away. So, in these final days before hitting the dreadful and inevitable submit button, here are some tips on how to manage the work before the calendar change.

The Common Application

While most students have completed a majority of the common application, the personal statement may still be lingering. A good approach to writing this portion of the application is to think of a story or important part of you that is not fully represented in your application. For example, if you struggled in a course throughout your educational career but met with the teachers constantly, this is a good chance to inform the admissions officers of your persistent and hard work in that subject. Or maybe you attend a lecture or took a pre-college course outside of school that has motivated you academically that you could expound on.


When approaching a supplement, refer to information you learned while visiting the school (and if you didn’t visit, a quick browse of the school’s website should suffice). Try to make each supplement as personal and focused as possible for each school, to show your genuine interest in attending. If a school has a special language program or study abroad, try discussing how you would take advantage of that opportunity, using precedent from your prior endeavors.

Make A List

One of the most useful tactics when tackling the application process is to make a list with deadlines of everything that needs to be accomplished. While it may seem like there is a lot of work at the start, this will help keep you organized throughout the process. As you finish and send the Common Application, supplements, and schedule interviews, cross each item off.

One at a time

If you tackle one application at a time, you will find that you can be much more productive. Set a goal for yourself, saying that you will finish your application for College X by a certain time of the day. Once you have knocked out the Common Application, then you will begin to see patterns as you continue from school to school. While that first application may be difficult, you will find it easier as you continue down your list.


Applying to college is stressful. There is no one who will tell you that they found this process relaxing, so don’t panic if you feel overwhelmed. Every year, hundreds of thousands of students go through the same process, writing applications and worrying about their immediate future. The most important part is to not get overwhelmed, stay focused, and remember that you’re almost there!