For those who may not have noticed, or are new to the game of college admissions (which probably accounts for 99.9% of those reading The College Whisperer's blog), the Common App has changed for the next class of applicants.

Some of the changes are obvious -- such as the reformatting of choices available in reporting SAT and/or ACT scores -- while others are more nuanced, making them all the more likely to lead to mistakes by the applicant, with often unintended, and, sometimes undesirable results.

It is all the more important, then, and incumbent upon the applicant, to read ALL instructions, thereafter, carefully and thoroughly following them.

Jeremy Spencer, Director of Admissions at Alfred University (writing for Admissions) notes six of the most common mistakes made in the college application process. Read, The Six Most Common Blunders of College Applicants. Many of these errors of commission or omission translate directly from mistakes made on the Common App.  These include, but surely are not limited to, missing deadlines, applying Early Decision instead of Early Action, and using the wrong college name in the essay.

Clearly, there is more to completing the Common App than simply filling in the blanks. Even those blanks require you, the applicant, to be concise, clear, and, most assuredly, accurate.

And let's not forget about those pesky short answers, where much more than "check the box that applies" is required.

Allen Grove, of Guide, notes 5 Short Answer Mistakes that could, all things considered, sink what would otherwise be a meritorious application.

And then, there are the supplemental applications, addenda required by many colleges, both public and private.

Surely, you will want to put your best foot forward, presenting yourself and your credentials in the best possible light, most favorable (in the eyes of a college admissions officer) to acceptance at the college of your choice.

The Common App is, in most instances, the centerpiece of your admissions table, and you will want to set it with the knives, forks, and teaspoons properly laid out and pointing in the right direction.

A bit of old-fashioned advice from The College Whisperer as you embark on the road toward college admissions -- engaging the Common App early in your travels, and meeting it head on: Take advantage of all available resources, from your high school guidance counselor to the expert advice of an independent college planning counselor (and, yes, on occasion, even the wisdom of your parents). Along that road there is many a bump and often a detour or two. You drive, most certainly, but always seek the assist of essential navigation to gain the much-needed competitive edge.

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