Live from the Common App. . .

The Common Application is now live at Are you ready?

Yes, the mainstay of the college application season, home to the apps (and sundry supplements) of "456 Common Application members in 46 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in France, Germany, Italy, Scotland, and Switzerland," will see you now. Let the insanity begin!

Registered? Committed your Login and Password to memory? (Don't be a wise guy. Write it down!) Personal statement about to detail your life story, in 250-500 words? Supplements completed? Think you're ready to hit that "submit" button?

Whoa Nellie!

The Common Application will be the portal to admissions for most colleges, and a site that high school seniors will likely become very familiar with over the course of the next several months.

Before you do anything other than setting up your Common App profile, check out the changes for the 2013 application at Upgrade For The Common App, 2013.

Next, have a look see at Common Application, Common Mistakes, to avoid some of the more obvious pitfalls of the application process. [For the less obvious, you'll need to see the man behind the curtain, or behind The College Whisperer! LOL]

You will also want to review the requisite Common App forms that are part and parcel of the complete application packet. You may think you're done with the Common App when you've filled in the "Common" portion of the Application. YOU ARE NOT. Remember, colleges will not even look at your application, in most instances, unless and until it is complete. [And don't rely upon the college admissions office to let you know that something is missing. Some will. Most won't.]

After you've set the table, you are ready to carefully and methodically start the application process. Don't expect to have this done in an hour, or even a day. They don't call it a "process" for nothing!

And did I mention your personal essay (not to mention the supplemental essays required by many colleges)? More than simply dotting the "i"s and crossing the "t"s is needed here, to give voice to that which will set you apart from the crowd, catch the eye of the reader, accentuate your best attributes, and give you the competitive edge you must have in today's fiercely selective college admissions environment.

Keep in mind -- it's not just checking off boxes and committing any old 250-500 words or more to paper [Paper? What's paper? :-)]. It's creating and optimizing a formidable game plan that is, in all respects, a winning college admissions strategy.

What's the difference, you may ask? Well, to put it bluntly, to plan and prepare is to prevail. What you say on your college application, and how you say it, posture it and present it, is the difference between a letter of acceptance to your college of choice, and going somewhere else.

Sound daunting? It can but need not be. Get started. Ask for help. Avail yourself of all pertinent resources, from your guidance counselor and select online sites, to an independent college planning counselor. Even check in with your parents, every now and then. [As if that helicopter mom wasn't hovering over your head like a blimp over the U.S. Open!] Give yourself the advantage. Take it from The College Whisperer. The successful candidate for the Class of 2017 will need all the support, collective wisdom, and good counsel s/he can muster!

Okay. Okay. So I've read. I've filled in the blanks. I've essayed my fingers to the bone. Now can I submit?

You can, but you may not!

Just because the Common App can be completed and sent to colleges as of August 1, it doesn't mean you should hit the "submit" button on August 2.

As much as we'd all like to be done with the college admissions process, if not during the Dog Days of August, then certainly before school starts in September, DON'T RUSH IT!

There is plenty of time to complete (and we mean complete. There is no "undo" once you submit!) your application, to tweak and enhance it, to make absolutely sure that it places you in the best possible position for the most favorable consideration. [Remember. You get one shot at this college admission stuff. Don't blow it!]

While it may seem that the Common Application is, more or less, "fill in the blanks" (and to some extent, it is), don't overlook the many opportunities to personalize the seemingly impersonal, to optimize what will become part of your matrix on college admissions officers' screens, and, quite literally, to make the Common App yours.

This is your brand, boys and girls. Your chance to market yourselves in a unique and positive way. Seize not only the day, but your moment to truly shine!

In the weeks ahead, The College Whisperer will opine on the ins and outs of the Common App, the significance of the high school resume, the do's and don'ts of the personal statement, short answers and supplemental essays, and myriad other oddities, niceties and not so niceties of the college application process.

So, don't go away. And, for goodness sake, don't hit that "submit" button!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.

Who knows what peril lurks in the college application and admissions process? The College Whisperer knows. . .

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