7 Steps to Take BEFORE Submitting Your Common Application

Posted on December 9th, 2019 by acsrochester

It’s probably best not to wait until 11:56 p.m. on deadline day to submit your Common Application, but if you speak with any Director of Admission, you’ll learn that a good portion of applications actually arrive at colleges in the 11th hour. My advice: don’t be one of the last applicants to submit your Common App, as you risk running into technical issues or, if a college notes your submission time, even portraying yourself as a Last Minute Larry.

 

Here are 7 key steps to take before you submit your Common App:

 

1. Give yourself plenty of time to accurately and authentically complete your application.

The summer before your senior year is the perfect time to begin work on your college applications, as we all know how busy things can get when the school year begins. Set aside some time during the summer to write (and re-write!) your personal statement and review any college-specific application requirements.

 

 

2. Connect with family members to make sure you’re capturing the right professional and educational information.

You’ll need to know your parents’ job titles, employers, and educational background, including degree dates. If you have older siblings, you’ll need their details, too. Colleges like knowing whether there is a legacy connection, which can sometimes be a boost in the admissions process, or whether you will be the first in your family to attend college.

 

 

3. Know which standardized test scores to self-report.

With score choice and test-optional schools, you are in the driver’s seat when it comes to reporting test scores. My advice is to use an SAT/ACT conversion chart to see if one score clearly trumps the other, in which case, the lower score can be omitted from your application. I also recommend only self-reporting AP scores of 4 and 5.  

 

 

4. Have a game plan for the Activities Section.

This is one of the most important sections of the Common App, as it’s the place where you can brag about your commitment and contributions to extracurricular activities. You should carefully consider the order and descriptions of your activities. The activities in which you’ve held leadership roles should be given priority, while one-year activities should be listed towards the bottom of the list.

 

 

5. Don’t draft your Personal Statement (or any other essays) in the Common App.

You’ll go through many iterations of your essays, and believe me when I tell you how devastating it can be to lose your work when you encounter an internet issue or technical glitch in Common App. Instead, draft your essays in Word or GoogleDocs. You’ll be able to save (and share) these more easily without the risk of losing hours of work!

 

 

6. Have someone thoroughly review your application.

Before you submit your application, it’s a good idea to have your college counselor or parent review your Common App for accuracy and authenticity. They’ll be able to catch spelling and grammatical errors and even let you know whether the application reflects your personality. However, if you are applying to more selective colleges, you could benefit from having a former admissions counselor review your application (see details below). 

 

 

7. Don’t wait until the last minute to submit.

This is for all of those procrastinators! Do not wait until deadline day to submit your application, as there’s a chance you’ll run into internet issues or the Common App website will be overwhelmed by user volume and crash. The safest bet is to submit your application at least one day in advance of a deadline. Plan accordingly!


Interested in having your Common Application reviewed by a former Associate Dean of Admission and Director of Selection?

As we approach application deadlines, please consider Emily Nevinger a resource and “final check” before submitting your application. During an application review, Emily will review all sections of your Common Application from the perspective of a former admissions counselor. Emily will pay close attention to your Activities, making sure you’re maximizing the order and descriptions of extracurriculars, and she will also review your Personal Statement. 

 

Emily Nevinger

Emily Nevinger

Emily Nevinger is Allendale Columbia School's College Advising Consultant, guiding students in the greater Rochester area and beyond on the college application process, financial aid, interview preparation, essay review, and more! Emily began working at the university level in 2003 and was a senior member of the admission committees for University of Miami, Emory University, and UNC Chapel Hill. Emily holds a bachelor's degree in Public Policy from Duke University and a Master of Science in Higher Education Administration and Enrollment Management from the University of Miami and a College Access Counseling Certificate from Rice University.
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Posted in: AC College Consulting, College Advising News, Eleventh Grade, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

How to Get the Most Out of Teacher Recommendation Letters

Posted on October 15th, 2019 by acsrochester

The applications of five students with similar grades, test scores, and extracurriculars landed on my desk. “Emily, we can add two more Biology students,” the Dean of Admission shared. “Would you mind presenting these applications in Admission Committee and helping decide which students are the right fit?”

Throughout application review season, I faced the same dilemma: how would we make fine distinctions between students with similar academic qualifications? The students would have strong grades in rigorous curriculums and test scores that fell into our published ranges. They all took advantage of the clubs, sports, and volunteer opportunities at their schools.

More often than not, the key to finding students who were the right fit for the college was the detailed information found in teacher recommendation letters.

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Posted in: AC College Consulting, College Advising News, Eleventh Grade, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Paying for College: The Expensive Elephant in the Room

Posted on September 22nd, 2019 by Allendale Columbia School

 

Take a guess. How much are families currently investing in a college education? 

Including tuition, room and board, and other expenses, families will spend an average of $92,304 for four years at a public in-state college; for private colleges, it jumps to an average of $169,732 for four years (NCES 2017-18). With the cost of higher education seemingly reaching no limit, families are feeling stuck.

Is it better to save for college as soon as a child is born, or will limiting assets benefit your student in the college financial aid process?

Where can you turn when you have questions about paying for college?

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Posted in: AC College Consulting, College Advising News, Eleventh Grade, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Standing Up for Civil Discourse

Posted on November 2nd, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

We see it every day: increasingly polarized and unfiltered outbursts on hot-button issues, shouting back-and-forth with neither side giving credit to the arguments of the other, and falsehoods repeated with assertive tones. This isn’t a children’s playground, it’s the world around us.

Ted Hunt recognizes a student’s point in his popular Democracy and Discourse class.

Is there room for civil discourse in today’s democracy? How do we prepare students to engage in public discourse with strategies for success and resilience? (more…)

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Posted in: Authentic Learning, Eleventh Grade, Highlights, Ninth Grade, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Is Your Child Starting From Behind? Why Others Look to AC for Early STEM Education

Posted on October 26th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

A delegation of educators from Belarus, seeking ways to boost innovation and economic development and cultivate a competitive workforce, visited Allendale Columbia School because of its reputation as the best school to visit for its “bottom-up” approach to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), which formally begins in Kindergarten. (more…)

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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eighth Grade, Eleventh Grade, Fifth Grade, First Grade, Fourth Grade, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Kindergarten, Lower School, Middle School, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Second Grade, Seventh Grade, Sixth Grade, Tenth Grade, Third Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Three Faculty Members Honored for Teaching Excellence

Posted on May 22nd, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

Since its founding more than 127 years ago, Allendale Columbia School has been dedicated to the highest standards of teaching and learning in the classroom. More recently, in 1983, the Board of Trustees created the first endowed Chair for teaching excellence. Since then, we have been fortunate to be able to attract, retain, and reward some of the best educators locally and globally.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the Head of School, we are pleased to recognize and celebrate three highly respected, talented teachers who embody the mission of Allendale Columbia School in everything they do.

Each of these teachers is dedicated to preparing students for the world that they will inherit, by creating a trusting and responsive environment for their students to grow in confidence and develop scholastic independence. They pursue the highest standard of excellence and strive to give our students opportunities for them to make a positive impact locally and globally, even at the earliest ages.

 

Jennifer Truong: Virginia and Fred Gordon Chair in Elementary Education

Please join me in congratulating Jennifer Truong as the new Virginia and Fred Gordon Chair in Elementary Education. Given every five years to a recipient who then holds the Chair for the five subsequent years, this award recognizes excellence in teaching in the elementary grades. It is awarded to a teacher whose merit is appreciated both within and outside the school community and who has earned the respect and recognition of peers.

As Mick Gee, Head of School, shared in the meeting where Jenn was installed as the fifth recipient of this Chair, “Jenn is a teacher’s teacher. Her dedication to helping her students grow academically and socially is extraordinary and she has earned the reputation of being one of the strongest teachers in the school. Jenn creates a student-centered learning environment in her classroom where second grade students feel supported and challenged in equal amounts. She is a pedagogical expert, a detailed planner, and quite simply one of the hardest working people in our community.”

If you spend ten minutes in one of Jenn’s classes, you will witness second grade students creating new knowledge, designing websites, recording podcasts, and honing their ability to think critically and communicate effectively. All of this occurs in an environment that is joyful, challenging, and inspiring; she is constantly encouraging students to produce their best work and be the best version of themselves. Read more about Jennifer Truong and the Virginia and Fred Gordon Chair in Elementary Education here.

Rob Doran: James R. Kolster Chair in Mathematics

Please join me in congratulating Rob Doran as the new James R. Kolster Chair in Mathematics. Given every five years to a recipient who holds the Chair for the five subsequent years, this award recognizes excellence in teaching specifically in the area of mathematics. This year we are pleased to recognize and celebrate Rob’s extraordinary presence in the school for eighteen years as both a Middle and Upper School math instructor.

As Mick said when installing Rob as the sixth recipient of this Chair, “Rob is a consummate professional and dedicated teacher who literally lives and breathes math. Most of us know Rob through his tireless work with his students. He is amongst the first people to arrive in the morning and almost certainly one of the last to leave at night, spending many additional hours helping students individually outside of class. Rob has played a pivotal role in helping students to grow in confidence and find their “math legs” as they move through our program, particularly in our Middle School.” He has the ability to empower his students and shift their mindset from math phobic to math loving; this is a rare gift indeed.

Outside of the classroom, Rob is fully immersed in the life of the school and offers many opportunities for students to be successful. He volunteers every year to coach the MathCounts Team, is one of the Middle School’s strongest advisors, chaperones the annual 8th grade trip to Washington DC, coaches Ultimate Frisbee, and as if all that wasn’t enough, Rob also works tirelessly behind the scenes to provide technical expertise for the Middle School show. Read more about Rob Doran and the James R. Kolster Chairin Mathematics here.

Donna Kwiatkowski: Gleason Chair for Teaching Excellence

Finally, please join me in congratulating Donna Kwiatkowski as the new recipient of the Gleason Chair for Teaching Excellence.  Given every five years to a recipient who holds the Chair for the five subsequent years, this award recognizes teaching excellence in any grade level, in any subject field, for the highest standards of excellence in independent school teaching. It is with great pride and pleasure that we honor Donna Kwiatkowski as the new Gleason Chair for Teaching Excellence for her long history of outstanding teaching and service to the school as our loyal, talented, and beloved Nursery teacher.

Donna has been teaching at AC for an amazing 31 years. As many of you know firsthand, she is a master teacher dedicated to her craft. She is and has been responsible for developing the hearts and minds of AC’s youngest students for more than three decades. As Mick said at Donna’s installation, “the impact of Donna’s teaching can be seen every day throughout the school. Not only in her classroom and at her lunch table, but in older students at all grade levels who benefited from their early years with Donna. Many of these older students, and even not-so-young adults, have grown into the people they are today because of the lessons learned during the time they spent with her.”

Together with her Pre-Kindergarten teaching partners, Donna has helped to build one of the strongest programs at AC, and anywhere in this region. Her classes are always full — often with a waiting list — and her reputation amongst elementary educators, and parents in the know, is exemplary. Read more about Donna Kwiatkowski and the Gleason Chair for Teaching Excellence.

For more information about any of our named endowed chairs for teaching excellence, please contact Karyn Vella, Assistant Head for External Affairs.

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Posted in: Highlights, Lower School, Middle School, Pre-Primary School, Upper School

AC Student-run TEDx Brings Ideas, Learning

Posted on February 16th, 2018 by Allendale Columbia School

Learning occurred on multiple levels at TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool on February 3rd. You may already be familiar with TED talks, and TEDx events are local versions of those talks. What makes this TEDx event different from most is that it was planned and produced from start to finish by AC students.

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Posted in: Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Global Engagement, Highlights, Invent, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School

Congratulations to the Class of 2017

Posted on June 1st, 2017 by klapa

We are delighted to share that the 32 members of the Class of 2017 will attend colleges and universities in 10 different states, the District of Columbia, Scotland, and England! Our seniors’ academic and artistic achievements were recognized with over $2.4 million in merit-based scholarships and invitations into honors and special programs. Click here to see a list of their plans for next year.

Please join us in congratulating the Class of 2017 and wishing them well in their future endeavors!

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Posted in: Alumni News, College Advising News, Highlights, Kid Kudos, Twelfth Grade, Upper School