Navigating the Common Application
Although this information was given to you at the beginning of the school year, I’ve noticed that there is a need for a reminder. Most of the applications I’ve been asked to look at have erroneous information, either about my contact information, your grade point averages and/or your date of entry.
Also, I understand that with your social media you are not required to use capitalization or punctuation. YOU NEED TO DO THIS ON YOUR APPLICATIONS, HOWEVER! Proper names—your address, your parents’ names, your course titles, etc. NEED TO BE CAPITALIZED. I happy to look over your applications if you like!
You will be asked about your counselor to be a recommender. Here is my information:
Patricia L. Bostwick
Title: Director of College Counseling
The Roeper School
1051 Oakland Avenue
Birmingham, MI 48009
You will be asked whether you want to participate in their Scholar Snapp Scholarship service (Why not?)
You will be asked information about your parents and what colleges they attended (ask them!)
If you plan to apply for Financial Aid, you will need to give them your Social Security Number;
They will give you the option of listing step-parents. Do this also if you will be applying for financial aid.
They will ask if you would qualify for a Fee Waiver. Check with Patti about this. If you have received a fee waiver for the ACT or SAT you would qualify for a Fee Waiver for colleges. If you are wondering if you might qualify, we have the criteria and applications in College Counseling.
What was your “date of entry” for Roeper? If you moved to Roeper after the beginning of the Freshman year, you would list the date you actually started attending. For everyone else, even the “Lifers,” for Common Application purposes, you all started Roeper on 9/2/2014 and will graduate on 6/10/2018.
You will submit grade and course information (optional)
After looking over your transcript to make sure there are no errors and no leftover Incompletes, you may enter the grade point average from the end of your junior year. I’ve noticed that students are reporting the GPA that they THINK they have. You need to report this accurately because we will be sending the transcript and they need to match! If you do not have a copy of your transcript, please ask Bridghette for one.
(If you choose to not enter your GPA, it’s fine, just select “no.” We will be sending the transcripts with the GPA and that’s what the colleges will use anyway.) Just don’t simply guess at your GPA!!
Roeper grades on a 4.0 scale; we do NOT weight grades (choose “Unweighted”) and we DO NOT rank (put “none”). All courses are 1.0 credit. There are 27 students in the senior class.
List all Roeper courses you are taking SENIOR YEAR by semester including courses you believe you will be taking second semester. Begin with AP’s and Advanced, then other academic courses followed by electives. All Roeper courses are “Honors” that are not AP, and “Advanced” courses are AP. This is also explained in the school profile and in my letter. Courses from previous years are on the transcript we send.
AP courses are NOT college courses. That would be if you actually took a college course on a campus, such as Oakland U or OCC. You will have those transcripts sent directly, but you will list them here also.
Honors and Awards
This can be anything where you received recognition, in or out of school. Scholar Athlete, Optimist Award, Forensics Tournament, work published in the Muse, etc.
Community programs or organizations that have provided you free assistance with your application:
That would be something like Upward Bound, if you have been working with them to fill out your applications.
Most counselors I know are advising students to NOT choose to report their test scores. If you choose “yes” you will find it a very time consuming process, and essentially meaningless, as you will still need to have the scores sent directly from ACT and College Board. Some students choose to report their AP scores, however, as these generally are only sent to the college you attend, for placement. You should list every AP score; colleges assume unreported scores are “2’s.”
You will list up to ten of your most significant activities. If you don’t have ten outside of the classroom you can use electives such as Yearbook or Choir. If you have more, you may decide to combine some of them into logical categories. You will list the hours per week and weeks per year and also give a brief description of what you did/why this is important. **Short (140 characters) does not mean unimportant—be solid and succinct in your answer.
Our suggestion is to create a resume first, and then look it over to determine your ten most important activities IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE TO YOU. The Common App is not telling you this year, but colleges expect that you are listing them in order of importance. If you just start listing things and then want to change the order, it will be very time consuming.
The Essay is so important that it has its own document! However, in the this year’s Common App, you will have the option of NOT sending an essay to colleges that do not require it! Notice, that they do, however, suggest that you write it anyway and send it to the colleges that want it (it will be most if not all of them) This is similar to the option you will have of sending one or more teacher recommendations to various colleges.
Additional Information/circumstances you have experienced
You add something significant that you haven’t been able to address in your activities list, your essays or in other parts of the application. Often students want to talk about any extenuating circumstances that would explain an inconsistent grade trend, eg. illness, learning differences, etc. Talk to me if you have questions about this one.
Courses and Grades
Some colleges (listed below) are now requiring students to self-report all of their courses and grades. Students are asked to do this only if they list that they will be applying to one of these colleges. You would want to have a copy of your transcript handy. (This process is currently being used by some other non-Common App colleges, such as all of the University of California colleges). Note that even if you are asked to do this, the Common App will have the counselor also submit the official transcript. Also, you would ONLY list courses on your Roeper transcript, NOT dual enrollment courses.
CA Colleges that require self-reported grades
George Washington University
Ohio State University
University of Southern California
West Virginia University
Somewhere before you invite your recommenders, you will be asked if you want to waive your right to see your recommendations. The answer is YES, you DO want to waive your right. Colleges will want to be sure our recommendations are honest and this is how they know. Besides, we won’t write them unless you do this!
You will be asked to invite one or two teachers. Make sure you enter their emails correctly. One year this was an issue when a student thought he had invited a teacher who had never received the invitation.
If you think you want to ask more than two teachers you must let them know you are inviting more than two and let them decide whether to write a separate letter or to give me information to include in my letter. Asking a music or theater teacher is a different matter—check your college requirements.
If you have a non-teacher recommender, you may invite them as “Other.”
As soon as you “invite” your recommenders, they/I will receive an email from Common App with your invitation. Be sure you have actually asked your teachers and provided them with the information they request!
When you submit your application to each college, you will be asked to “assign” the teacher(s) whose letter(s) of recommendation you want sent to that college.
On the other hand, Teachers may NOT write different recommendations for specific colleges. Their recommendations go out to every college to which you invite them!
Early Decision vs. Early Action vs. Regular Decision vs. Rolling Decision
Common Application requires colleges either choose early or regular action/decision, not rolling admissions (although they may do rolling notification). Check the CA or college website for deadlines.
Generally, for rolling decision, the sooner you apply, the sooner you will hear back—anywhere from 2-12 weeks, generally.
Early Action—NON BINDING. Colleges make their decision based on junior year grades and test scores to date. Deadlines might be anywhere from November 1-December 15—check the college or CA deadline. Some colleges require early applications for scholarship or Honors College consideration. Students may be accepted, denied or deferred with Early Action, and generally within a month or 6 weeks. Deferred students can be reconsidered upon receipt of new information such as 1st semester senior grades, new test scores or SIGNIFICANT new information.
“Restrictive” or “Single Choice” Early Action—NON binding but otherwise similar to Early Decision. Students choosing this option may apply “Early” to only one private college—including ED or any other EA private college. They may, however, apply “early” to any college with Rolling Admissions or a public university (eg. U of Michigan, UVA, UNC) with “Early Action.”
Early Decision—BINDING. Similar to Single Choice Early Action, but with an important distinction—with the application the student/parent/counselor all sign a statement of agreement that if accepted, the student is agreeing in advance that they WILL attend that college or university. Some colleges have two Early Decision deadlines—some are as late as or later than the Regular Decision deadline, but are still binding. There is a place in the Common App where the student, parent and counselor must sign. We must have a conversation about this before I can sign it.
There is evidence that some colleges are taking a significant percentage—up to half the class—Early Decision. This is an option you want to weigh carefully. You will want to calculate your likely financial obligation, and also submit your financial aid applications (FAFSA and CSS profile or university financial aid application) by the college’s deadline so you can receive your financial aid award in time to make your ED final decision.
Patricia Bostwick, MA, LPC
Director of College Counseling