So picture this (because before you know it, it’ll be real): you’ve finished your Common App. Yes! The one you’ve been slaving over and worrying about for months! FINALLY. But…then you have to send it.
That’s when anxiety kicks in. I’ve seen more than one of my students come in saying that their application is done…but they just can’t hit submit! And I get it: you’ve been working on it for months, the stakes are high—how can you just decide you’re done?
So here’s my method. Before you submit your application on the Common App to your dream school, follow this simple list to make sure your best-laid words come out the way you want them to. Double-check your application this way, and you’ll be ready to hit send with confidence.
1) View your entire application as a PDF.
Go to the section that says “Review and Submit – Common App.” Don’t worry: you can’t actually submit anything until you pay the application fee, but we need to see what your application looks like so far. There should be a place to “Review and Submit.” Click on it, and it will take you to a PDF version of your ENTIRE APPLICATION to that school!
2) Check for accuracy.
Read over all the information, including the basic information. Don’t forget to check that your intended major for that school is correct.
3) Check the formatting.
Do all your paragraphs have a single space between them? Or no space at all? Make sure it’s consistent. If there’s a space between the essay prompt and the beginning of your essay? I usually prefer one, because it makes it easier on the eyes. Did you indent (or not indent) all your paragraphs? Do any words get cut between lines? Are there any special characters that don’t show up properly?
4) Check for Continuity.
This is the biggest part! Once the details are in order and won’t distract you, read the entire PDF top to bottom in one go. Does the Activity List make sense? Would someone get an accurate picture of who you are from that? Does your main Common App essay fit in with what we gathered from your Activity List? There should definitely be a common theme that comes through. Can you identify it?
5) Fill in Any Gaps.
Continue reading straight through to the particular college’s supplemental questions and essay(s), if any. Do those effectively show other parts of your personality that we didn’t get so far, or do they repeat content? If they repeat content, you might want to rewrite some of your short essays to portray you from different angles…while still connecting to the big picture we made of you from your Activities List.
6) If you made any sweeping changes, reread the entire PDF again!
If you’ve done anything to meaningfully change your application, repeat this entire list! Better safe than sorry when if comes to your college applications, after all.
After you’ve completed this list, you’re ready to go!
Just make sure to do this whole process again for each new application, as the different supplemental essays will change the overall picture of you that application paints! Good luck, and if you need any help, contact me!