June 2012 E-Newsletter

posted Jun 4, 2012, 2:49 PM by Glenda Durano   [ updated Jun 4, 2012, 6:58 PM ]


    As seniors begin filling out their college applications in August (yes, August…that’s not a typo), they will begin to run across several types of applications:  common, school, electronic, paper and snap.  Sometimes students ask, “Does it matter which type of application I use?”  The answer: yes, it does. The type of application you submit to a university can demonstrate your interest level, and for some schools, that’s important.  Legally, schools can’t discriminate based on the type of application you submit, however, each application has its own “hidden meaning.”

    The common application is an electronic application that is accepted at 456 schools throughout the nation.  A student fills out one basic application, activities résumé, and essay, then submits the application to multiple schools with a click of the mouse.  Voila!  College application process…finished.  (Ha! In your dreams…) Before you start doing the happy dance, you need to know several things about the common application.  First, most schools also have a supplemental application as part of the “common app” that includes at least one (and frequently, more) essays. Second, because the general essay is submitted to multiple schools, a student cannot target his essay towards a particular university.  Third, if you utilize the common app, you will also request letters of recommendation electronically through that website…and the common application recommendation process has been known to have many glitches. Finally, some schools only accept the common application, but many schools accept the common application as well as their own application.  This is important to know because…

    If a school has it’s own application, but also accepts the common application, and a student takes the time to fill out the school’s specific application, it speaks volumes.  It says, “This school isn’t just one in a list.”  It says, “This school is important to me.”  Yes, filling out an individual school application is more time-consuming, but generally speaking, the essay can be adapted more specifically and the activities résumé may be tailored towards that school. Schools are more likely to offer a place (and frequently, financial aid) to a student who has shown demonstrated interest.  If a student takes the time to fill out an individual application, this qualifies as “demonstrated interest,” which, by the way, is one of the top ten things college admissions officers say they are seeking in a top applicant.

    If a student has a choice between submitting the common application or the school application, the student needs to prioritize.  Certainly the common application is much more convenient, and if a school is not on a student’s “short list,” it’s perfectly acceptable to submit the common app.  If a school is among a student’s top three choices, however, I suggest that the student do everything in his power to demonstrate his interest in that school, which includes submitting a school-specific application.

    If a student chooses to fill out a school’s individual application, he may have to decide between an electronic application and a paper application, although paper applications are sometimes not available.  Generally speaking, schools prefer electronic applications because ultimately, every application will be stored electronically.  However, even if a student does choose to submit his application electronically, he should definitely keep a hard copy for himself.  Applications can be lost in cyber space.  There are a few exceptions to this rule.  Occasionally, a student may prefer to submit a supplement, especially if the student is home educated.  In this case, the student must choose between submitting part of the application electronically and part of it as a hard copy or the entire application (and supplement) as a hard copy. 

    Finally, many students will receive “snap apps” from universities in the fall.  These applications usually require no essay (and many times, no fee) and state that the student has already been accepted based on his test scores.  The problem I have with snap apps is that the school is choosing the student instead of the student choosing the school.  That goes against my college planning philosophy that says that the student needs to choose whether or not the school is a good “fit.”  Granted, this school might end up being a good fit, but beware of taking the easy way out.  More than anything, a snap app is a marketing ploy.

    When it comes to college applications, EVERYTHING counts…the résumé, the essay, the recommendations, the grades, the test scores….and yes, even the type of application. 

    For professional, customized college planning assistance, contact College Advising and Planning Services at (505) 918-7669.  We’ll be happy to arrange a free, 20-minute meeting to see if we can meet your needs.

    As always, please forward this newsletter to other friends who might be interested in college planning information.  Do remember to check out the “upcoming deadlines” section of the website for a monthly calendar of what you should be doing this month to stay on track with the college planning process.

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