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Ten Tips on Filling Out College Applications

On August 1st, the Common Application launched the newest version. If you are a student who opened up an account before this, all of your information was rolled over and you can pick up where you left off. For students who haven't started filling out the Common App or any application, it's a big step. But once you open up an account, it's a lot less intimidating than one might think.

Here are my top ten tips for any student just getting started:

1. Filling out applications can be a great first step or a welcome break from writing college essays.
Most applications use a straightforward template which allows the student to easily navigate the sections.
2. Opening up an account with Common App or the Coalition App can help a student organize their college list and see what each college requires.
3. It's easy to add and remove colleges from a student's list using the Common App or Coalition App.
Nothing is set in stone until an application is submitted.  

4. Approach the biographical, personal, and educational information as a chance to begin your story.
Even though many of your responses will seem basic—like your name, high school, senior year classes, race, ethnicity, languages spoken—they are filled with nuggets of information that allow a complete stranger to begin to get to know you.  

5. The activities section is like a resume for an adult.
Try to be consistent with capitalization and punctuation throughout this section. While there is limited space to list activities and describe them, lead with the most impressive things first. 

6. The main college essay is typically required for selective colleges.
Draft, edit, and finalize your essay using a separate document. Copy and paste the final version into the application only when you know it's truly the final (and best) essay. 

7. Look through the supplements for the colleges on your list.
It will help you prioritize your time. Some supplements will just ask basic questions related to the program you are applying to or major, while others will require shorter and longer essays.

8. Focus first on the supplements for the colleges you plan to apply to sooner (through an Early Decision, Early Action, Priority Deadline, or Rolling Admissions program).
The first few supplements take more time to do and it's better to tackle them before senior year begins.
"When completing your applications, get the most important #college supplements out of the way first." TWEET THIS 

9. Know that edits can be made to your application as much as you want before it's submitted.
Just like editing an essay, take breaks and return to the application with a fresh set of eyes until it's final. 

10. There are tutorials and links to tips in each section of the application so if you get stuck or have a question, you can quickly find out an answer!
Just getting started is the hardest part. You will feel relieved the moment you start filling out an application. The sense of accomplishment when each section is complete will fuel you to keep going.