Okay, let's be real. If your Common App isn't pretty much done yet, you might be freaking out right now. You might be feeling overwhelmed. You might be feeling behind. Why?
Because it's Common App crunch time.
And I can't lie to you: time IS tight right now. Early decision application deadlines are upon us, and even regular decision is definitely in view. But freaking out won't help with that—what you need to do is get down to business. I don't want to take up too much of your precious time, so I'm just giving you some quick hits. I've already got some great resources right here on the blog that can help you get prepared to give the Common App your very best.
So put aside your anxiety and comparison and fear—they're not going to help you right now. But here are some things that will, so take a deep breath, grab your brainstorming tools, and read on.
1) Know what's coming.
Check out my thorough overview of the Common App. This should help demystify all the sections of the Common Application and steer you clear of the most common mistakes! This should also ease some of your anxiety, as you’ll notice that only a few sections actually require major thought on your end. Don't need all that detail? Go for this quick overview of the Common App instead. It'll still give you a sense of where you are in the overall process and get you in the right mindset.
2) Your essay is where you really shine.
To start brainstorming what you want to write about in your Common App Essay, check out my post on how to pick a college essay topic. This will clue you in to the post important elements that need to come through in every part of your application, but especially in your main 650-word essay. Whatever it is that you want to write about can be linked to the Common App questions. Don't forget to check out this year's new Common App essay prompts before you get started.
3) Writer’s block happens. Let me help you beat it.
It happens especially when you’re asked to encapsulate your entire personality, plus all your values, goals, and experiences into a single 650-word essay..one with very high stakes. If you're feeling like you can't move forward, check out my list of tips on how to beat college essay writer's block. It gives you lots of questions that you can ask yourself to break out of paralysis and get going on that essay. You won’t be stuck for long!
4) Avoid some obvious (and not-so-obvious) pitfalls!
Make sure that while you’re piecing together your application, you don’t fall into any traps that not only make you look cliché, but cast doubt onto your authenticity as a person (and onto your accomplishments)! Definitely read up on these college-application mistakes to avoid as you're trying to tell colleges who you are and why they want you.
Let me leave you with this final thought: just like you can survive junior year without losing your mind, the Common Application doesn’t have to be hell. Just start as soon as possible, get organized, and stay true to yourself. And if you need any help, you know where to find me. Now with those resources under your belt, go get at that application!