Open Season often refers to hunting season and that is just about what I am going to talk about here, but indirectly. On August 1, the Common Application opened for the 2014-2015 application season. For the first time ever, the University of California application also opened. Going back to my reference, it’s time to get moving on your applications and hunting (completing the research) for the schools to which you will apply.
Before you get started there are a few things you need to do:
Here are a few things you should also be aware of: http://blog.commonapp.org/2014/07/28/prospectiveapplicants/
Take your time: There is no rush to get your application sent. Sometimes it feels like there is a rush to get applications done, but careless mistakes can be costly. One error on a common type application gets sent to all the schools you are applying to. Slow down, but meet or beat the deadlines.
Before you submit, read everything backwards. Awkward yes, but when you have been reading something you wrote over and over again, your brain has retained most of the information. By reading essays and short prompt questions backwards, you see things differently.
If your school uses naviance/family connection, make sure that you use the same login and password information to connect the accounts. (Common Application only)
Take a few moments to look through each section of the application to see what you will need to complete for each section: names, addresses, school names, activities, etc., then start collecting that information. Once you have it, it will be easier to complete those mundane sections. You can even download a draft of the application to get started on paper before you complete the online version.
The Activities Section: While you may have a ton of fantastic activities and belong to innumerable clubs, the application only give you a certain amount of space. A word of advice, list the activities in order of importance to you. Don’t try to think what the admission committee wants to see, you will never figure that out. What they want to know is what has been important to you and what you did.
Keep to the facts – tell your role, what you did and how long and often you did that activity. This is not the opportunity to write another essay.
Hopefully, you also have a resume to round out all of the other activities and interests you were not able to use in the activities section. Be aware however, that not every school will let you send a resume.
Be careful what you put and be honest. There is no sense making things up, really. Lying about some award or achievement or club you did not start does not help your application. If someone finds out, there are consequences.
University of California’s system is quite unique in that you can apply to eight of the nine UC schools (the ninth is UC San Francisco and they only offer graduate programs). Again, read the directions carefully! There are three tricky parts to the UC application:
Students enter their own grades. There are no teacher recommendations and no transcripts sent to UC schools. They work completely on the honor system. So, ask your school for an unofficial copy of your transcript and enter your grades following the guidelines posted on the application. The directions are very complete. Be aware however, that you need to check the international section of the directions for your school system. The main directions are geared toward California residents attending school in California.
There are two essays on the UC application. The total word count is 1000 words divided between the two. You decide how you want to use the word count on each of the essays but stay within the 1000 word limit.
The final tricky bit of the UC application is that even though you can start the application now, you cannot submit it until much later – November.
The actual application process is a bit tedious, but try to have fun with it. I suggest taking 20-30 minutes out of your schedule each day to complete the application. There is no need to rush, but don’t put off getting them done. Nothing good happens when you rush.
I would love to hear comments or answer questions you may have about the research or application process. Some of your questions may be valuable to other readers. So let me know what is on your mind. Plese send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hamilton Gregg is the founder of International Educational Consulting and has worked in education since 1985. He helps students and their families understand their personal and educational needs and find the right school to meet their requirements. If you are a student or parent who would like to ask Gregg a question on our blog, please email email@example.com