When Should I Start the 2018-2019 Common App?

We get this question a lot, particularly this time of year. Juniors are just peeking their heads up after (or during) finals to ask: what lies ahead? When should you start to complete the 2018-2019 Common Application? In short: yesterday. Are you behind? Yes.

It would be out of character for us to be anything but honest with you, so listen when we tell you that you should have already made a Common App account on their website. It’s the easiest thing you could have on your to-do list because we know that you’re constantly creating logins for the garbage and non-garbage websites that you peruse for news updates, videos about the news because you don’t want to read the articles, and makeup tutorials.

Here’s a glimpse into your future: you’re going to come up with every excuse possible not to do the things that we tell you to do, particularly taking that very first step of creating a Common App account. The reason you’ll avoid it is the same reason that people avoid most things: because it’s big and overwhelming. We get it.

Let this serve as a reminder and a note of encouragement—just log on and sign up today, and start filling out the Common App. The first few sections are purely logistical (you have to enter in your name, address, high school, etc.) and are incredibly easy. We know firsthand that once you complete the first few sections you’re going to feel better, like a weight is lifted, and that the rest of it isn’t going to be that scary.

We’ll address the justification you’re thinking head-on, and perhaps why you haven’t signed up yet: “Wait, but I can’t sign up because once the supplements are released in August all of my answers will be deleted and I’ll have to start over!”

We’ll give you that thought, though we’re pretty sure you hadn’t thought that far ahead. The thing is, it’s flawed. Once you create a login, it’s yours, all of your information is saved, and once supplements are released through the Common App, all of your answers roll over. So, you’re out of excuses. You won’t lose any information. As we have said, the first four sections are purely informational and you can do them while you listen to some music while you’re on a break from all of your summer reading.

We’ve seen this time and time again with students who leave everything until the last minute and who are not proactive in the least, particularly in the beginning stages of the application process (though technically the beginning of the college application process was the first week of your freshman year…now we’re at the end). They put it off, then they scramble to complete everything, and mistakes are made as a result. Columbia isn’t going to be impressed with spelling errors. Harvard will throw you in the “no” pile faster than you can say “It’s not red, it’s crimson.” It’s sloppy, stressful, and it creates a domino effect for the rest of the application process. Colleges are looking for any reason to reject you, so don’t make your rejection because of a missed deadline or misinformation.

Parents: if you’re reading this, we’re really sorry your kid hasn’t gotten it together yet. Maybe encourage them to read this article. And to create a Common App account. But don’t do it for them. That’s another problematic dynamic we’ve observed: the parent who wants to do everything for their kid because it’s just “easier.” Sure, it’ll solve a short-term problem, but what about when your kid needs to choose classes or sign up for stuff themselves? You’re creating a dependency loop that is hard to break.

If you need help creating a schedule, tips for motivating your kid, or just some general guidance on this whole process, then please reach out. We’re here to help you.