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College Applications

Senior College Presentation

These slides were shared with the Class of 2024 through presentations in their English class on 9/21/23 and 9/22/23.  

Application Checklist & Naviance Tutorial

These two videos give an overview of the application procedures for Clarence High School students.  The log-in for Naviance has changed slightly since this video was created (it's gotten easier!), but the rest of the content is still up to date.  If you're not interested in a video, here is a one-page checklist that covers most of the big stuff.

The Common Application

Many students use the Common App to apply to colleges.  It's accepted by over 900 schools and can cut down on the number of applications you have to submit.  With that said, it's a big application that students often have questions on.  Collegewise is a private college counseling group that puts out a free guide to the Common App each fall.  It's a lengthy reference document that can help a lot as you're completing the Common App.

Collegewise Guide to the Common App

Here are some basic things to keep in mind when completing the Common App:

  • It lends itself to completing one section at a time, so remember to tie everything together - you’re telling a cohesive story about yourself.
  • This is your opportunity to tell them about who you are as both a student and person.
  • Describe rather than list.
  • Try to state what you learned from each activity.

The College Essay

The essay is one of the few parts of your application that's not already "settled."  You don't have too much control over your GPA or test scores, but you can do a great job on your essay.  Here are a few things to remember:

  • Get feedback from others, but make sure YOUR “voice” is loud and clear.  
  • Have a strong introduction.  
  • Try to use vivid imagery.  SHOW don’t TELL.  
  • Make sure it’s grammatically flawless, but it doesn’t need to be super formal, again, your voice should come through.  
  • Don’t reiterate your resume.
  • Try to answer the question throughout the essay, that will help keep you on track.  
  • Avoid gimmicks.  Less is more.  
  • Read the essay out loud; that will help you eliminate filler and unnecessary words.
  • Leave plenty of time to revise - sometimes you need to let it sit for a few days and come back to it.
  • Avoid sounding too negative - remember that they’re trying to decide if they want you on campus.
  • START- get something on paper, the conclusion could end up as the intro and vice-versa, but at least you have something.
  • Use Post-It notes to generate words or topics you may want to include.
  • Topics and words can serve as a framework or outline that helps give the essay direction.

Types of Application Programs (Early Decision & Early Action)

Here is a brief description of the types of application programs that schools have. 

  • Regular Decision (RD) - Defined application deadline date, often early January.  Colleges wait until after the deadline to begin reviewing applications.
  • Rolling Admission - No defined deadline.  Colleges review applications on a rolling basis as they come in.
  • Early Action (EA) - Similar to regular decision, except the date is moved up.  Apply sooner, find out sooner - simple as that.  Students can apply to multiple EA schools.
  • Restrictive Early Action - The same as EA, but you can only apply to one EA school.  There are only a handful of colleges that have restrictive EA.
  • Early Decision - Early deadline and early notification, but it’s a binding agreement.  If you choose a school ED, you’re agreeing to go there if you get in.

This video gives an overview of the types of decision programs as well the pros and cons of ED/EA.

This sheet is referenced in the video above.  It's put together annually by Jennie Kent and Jeff Levy, two independent educational consultants.  It helps give context to the potential benefits of Early Decision.

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