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Demystifying the Common Application


Prab Singh heads CollegeSource (http://thecollegesource.net/), an organisation that provides life coaching to adolescents and support to their family through the process of deciding their higher education and career goals.

The Common Application is changing this year! But like all change, we should see this as a good thing. I. for one, am quite tired of reading the same essays from years of working with students on the same topics, so I welcome this change. Besides the essays, the other changes are mainly around how one will technically use the common application. Though these changes have made the process much easier and more modular, they will unlikely be noticed by you. Therefore, I will not spend time talking about the changes, about which you can find tons of info online, but focus instead on what is the same; that is, how you will communicate who you are through this application.

First of all, you can create an account on the Common Application at www.commonapp.org after August 1st. Now lets jump into what is important!

Building your application to market your Personal Brand: Hopefully over the summer you have thought about what your main differentiating points are; this is your Personal Brand. You now need to work towards ‘showing’ these attributes in various parts of your application. If we are selling any product, we need to know the salient aspects of that product that together make the USP (Unique Selling Proposition) of the product.

Here is a visual representation of the cycle that you should go through.

Cycle

After understanding our Personal Brand, we need to link Tangible Activities, achievements, awards, experiences, etc. to these branded elements. The idea is to then come full circle and have an application that naturally points to your Personal Brand.

This is a work in progress, but as you go through the essays and the application as a whole, this is a great resource to make sure that you have communicated everything that you want to, and also to make sure that you have not been repetitive. There is very little space in the application, but you also do not want to insult the intelligence of the admissions officer by repeating things several times. Let’s look at the different places in the application that you can elaborate on these Tangible Activities that represent your Brand.

From a high level, we have 3 different parts of the Application: 1. The Online Application (including the supplement application in case of the Common Application); 2. The Teacher/Counselor Recommendation; and 3. The SAT (and TOEFL, if applicable) scores. We will focus on the Online Application here:

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Prab Singh heads CollegeSource (http://thecollegesource.net/), an organisation that provides life coaching to adolescents and support to their family through the process of deciding their higher education and career goals.


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