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Starting the Common App early? Not so fast!

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Starting the Common App early? Not so fast!

Applying to college used to be reserved for senior year.

Now, with more and more students applying and the competitive nature of college applications, parents and students are searching for ways to get a jump-start during junior year and even earlier.

The new Common App rollover feature allows students to use the information from one year to the next and, in theory, allows you to begin to work on the Common App as early as freshman year.

At the least, you have a chance to review the separate sections of the application: the profile, family information, education resume, test scores, activities, and the writing section. If you choose, you can complete many of the sections early.

Should you start the Common App early?

There is certainly no harm in familiarizing yourself with the Common App. If you know what personal information is required and what typical topics are for the college essays, it will prepare you to complete the application. But it’s advisable to wait until junior year to actually start the application.

Why should you wait?

  1. You have a lot to focus on in high school. Academics should always be your No. 1 priority. This begins freshman year when you choose your courses and the school begins to calculate your GPA. A low GPA during freshman year will have a staggering effect on the next three years and your final GPA.

  2. You should concentrate your attention on one specific extracurricular activity. Colleges look for consistency and stability in activities and community service. Choose one during freshman year and throw yourself into it for the next four years.

  3. You need to refine your writing and develop the skills that you need to craft the best college essay.

You will have plenty of time the summer before your senior year to complete the Common Application. Don’t get too distracted by the early access and rollover feature until it is time to apply to college.

But by checking out the Common App early, you will be able to present an impressive and cohesive picture of who you are as a student and be an exceptional applicant for college admission.

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Written by Suzanne Shaffer

Suzanne Shaffer counsels parents and students in the college admissions process and the importance of early college preparation. Her Parenting for College blog offers timely college tips for parents and students, as well as providing parents with the resources necessary to help their college-bound teens navigate the college maze.

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