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The Common Application 2015-16 compilation

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I am just now starting the Common Application for my senior who graduates from high school in June 2016. Yes, I know I am behind and as I look through the threads that relate to the Common Application, my stomach goes a bit queasy.

 

Maybe we could compile all of the recent threads on the CA into this thread so the information is easier to find?  Also, we could ask new questions and either use the topic tags or just use a bold title at the top of your response/question so searching is easier. 

 

For example:

 

Whose account is it?

 

When registering for the Common Application account, I am assuming the information is for the student. If this is correct, as the parent/guidance counselor, do I need a Recommendor account?

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Whose account is it?

 

When registering for the Common Application account, I am assuming the information is for the student. If this is correct, as the parent/guidance counselor, do I need a Recommendor account?

 

Yes, it is the student's account. To get to the counselor account, the student must fill you out as the counselor in the Education section of the general tab, then over in the schools tab, fill you out as the person doing the counselor recommendation and "sign" the FERPA waiver. At this point, you will receive an invitation to create a counselor account via email.

 

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Yes, it is the student's account. To get to the counselor account, the student must fill you out as the counselor in the Education section of the general tab, then over in the schools tab, fill you out as the person doing the counselor recommendation and "sign" the FERPA waiver. At this point, you will receive an invitation to create a counselor account via email.

 

 

Thanks, Janet.

 

I assume the invitation will be issued only after the entire application is complete?

 

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I assume the invitation will be issued only after the entire application is complete?

 

 

No, if I recall correctly, the student can invite recommenders whenever he or she chooses.

 

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No, if I recall correctly, the student can invite recommenders whenever he or she chooses.

 

 

He or she must complete the sections I listed in my answer above. The rest doesn't have to be finished for you to start your parts.

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The guidance counselor will get an e mail right away, but if you are simply listed as a recommender, you won't get an e mail until you are assigned to a college. I also suggest warning people that these e mails are coming, and that the process with the Common App can be a little confusing.  Teachers in traditional schools tend to have experience with it, but we have found that others have been uncertain about certain aspects of the App.  It is not necessarily self-explanatory!

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I've said this in other threads, but I'll say it here, as well. Do not spend a lot of time on the common app unless you are sure you will need it. Neither of my son's top two choices accepted the common app, it would have been a waste of our time. He applied and was admitted to his first choice university, so he was a "once and done." 

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With regards to the schools the student has attended, what counts?

 

I have the primary as "home school" and our local high school is listed second as he had one full semester and additional classes each year. Do I add Pennsylvania Homeschoolers and other online suppliers?

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With regards to the schools the student has attended, what counts?

 

I have the primary as "home school" and our local high school is listed second as he had one full semester and additional classes each year. Do I add Pennsylvania Homeschoolers and other online suppliers?

Good question-I've been curious too.

 

My initial plan was not to list any schools that weren't actually providing an official transcript.  Since I'm ultimately responsible where online schools have been used I wasn't going to add them.  Rather I have designations on the transcript and explanations with the course description/profile about the online providers.

 

(Yes, I say "I" since I think this comes under my area rather than being my student's responsibility.)

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The guidance counselor will get an e mail right away, but if you are simply listed as a recommender, you won't get an e mail until you are assigned to a college. I also suggest warning people that these e mails are coming, and that the process with the Common App can be a little confusing.  Teachers in traditional schools tend to have experience with it, but we have found that others have been uncertain about certain aspects of the App.  It is not necessarily self-explanatory!

Does this mean that the teacher will get multiple emails, one for each school to which he/she is assigned?

 

Or just one email after the first school is assigned?

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Is there a good link/site with the "steps involved" to send to potential recommenders to help them figure out the process? Some who dd has asked have been through this before - others have not.

 

 

 

I printed out the master list and it looks like most schools only require one teacher recommendation and the counselor evaluation. Am I reading this correctly? We'd assumed that dd would need, at minimum, 3 recommendations. So, we are relying on ONE letter and MY letter as counselor? Cause... there are other people who would write a far more worthy letter than her mama. :mellow:

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With regards to the schools the student has attended, what counts?

 

I have the primary as "home school" and our local high school is listed second as he had one full semester and additional classes each year. Do I add Pennsylvania Homeschoolers and other online suppliers?

For the most part, these are curriculum suppliers to your homeschool and are reported in your homeschool transcript. Some people use an asterisk or italics to make outside grades stand out from mommy grades.

 

The exception would be a provider that has a registrar and sends its own accredited transcripts of courses taken. Otherwise, self-report your online classes and don't count them all as separate schools.

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I printed out the master list and it looks like most schools only require one teacher recommendation and the counselor evaluation. Am I reading this correctly? We'd assumed that dd would need, at minimum, 3 recommendations. So, we are relying on ONE letter and MY letter as counselor? Cause... there are other people who would write a far more worthy letter than her mama. :mellow:

Check with each individual school to see if they will accept extra letters. Many welcome extra materials from homeschoolers in particular, but some really don't want more papers to read through.

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Lisa,

 

Thank you, thank you for starting this thread! We will begin this in two weeks after the next ACT test and prep cycle. 

 

We're still putting some things in place for the school year, but we have to get going with the app process and still a few visits. Yikes!

 

1togo

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Is there a good link/site with the "steps involved" to send to potential recommenders to help them figure out the process? Some who dd has asked have been through this before - others have not.

 

I set up a dummy account and will go through the actual steps myself and take notes. I'm busy preparing for a trip out of the country to visit my very ailing brother so common app is on hold until I come back.

 

But from what I've clicked through, "Other Recommenders" do not have to fill out as much stuff as a Teacher recommender.

 

The plan is to have dd include detailed instructions for the person/s that she will ask for LORs.

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With regards to the schools the student has attended, what counts?

 

I have the primary as "home school" and our local high school is listed second as he had one full semester and additional classes each year. Do I add Pennsylvania Homeschoolers and other online suppliers?

 

I'm not intending to list any source that isn't accredited or that leaves it up to the home school to award credit or not.

 

In other words, I am not planning to list Lukeion Project or the Stanford high school program that didn't award specific credits on the Common App.  I will list them on the transcript, school profile and course descriptions.

 

I will list the community colleges my sons attended as dual enrolled students.

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With regards to the schools the student has attended, what counts?

 

I have the primary as "home school" and our local high school is listed second as he had one full semester and additional classes each year. Do I add Pennsylvania Homeschoolers and other online suppliers?

I listed our homeschool and then only accredited schools. So Oak Meadow, the private school he attended for a year, and the CC, but not Derek Owens. For the DO course, I assumed DO's grading and materials were akin to any resource and I listed him that way in my course description.

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Does this mean that the teacher will get multiple emails, one for each school to which he/she is assigned?

 

Or just one email after the first school is assigned?

 

Just one e mail.

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With regards to the schools the student has attended, what counts?

 

I have the primary as "home school" and our local high school is listed second as he had one full semester and additional classes each year. Do I add Pennsylvania Homeschoolers and other online suppliers?

 

The directions for the "Other School" section read: "If you have attended more than one high school, enter the number from the drop-down list.  Zero is an option if you have only attended one school." so I didn't put anything there. I had our homeschool listed as "Current or Most Recent School." Then I listed the CC she dual enrolls at under "College & Universities." Anything other than that (Lukeion, free online college courses, courses at local public school, etc.) I have on the transcript only, and I describe them in the Homeschool Supplement section of my counselor account.

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I printed out the master list and it looks like most schools only require one teacher recommendation and the counselor evaluation. Am I reading this correctly? We'd assumed that dd would need, at minimum, 3 recommendations. So, we are relying on ONE letter and MY letter as counselor? Cause... there are other people who would write a far more worthy letter than her mama. :mellow:

 

On the "Recommenders and FERPA" section for each college, once you have added them to your list of schools, it will tell you how many are required and how many are allowed for teachers and for "others." Most of the schools dd has listed allow more than they require, so you could submit extra. As a homeschooler, I figure my letter doesn't count for as much as an unrelated guidance counselor, and so if allowed we submit extra letters. At a minimum, I try to make sure each college has a letter from a math/science professor and a humanities/languages professor.

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Free guide to filling out the common app (not homeschool-specific)

 

http://wiselikeus.com/collegewise/2015/09/collegewise-common-app-guide-is-here.html

 

I wanted to give this a bump, because I finally got around to reading this guide.  It was really helpful.  I think a student could probably work through most of the Common App in a long day's work, leaving just the essays and maybe some polishing on awards and activities.  

 

Maybe we need to compile some similar guide for working through the counselor section for homeschoolers.

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I wanted to give this a bump, because I finally got around to reading this guide.  It was really helpful.  I think a student could probably work through most of the Common App in a long day's work, leaving just the essays and maybe some polishing on awards and activities.  

 

Maybe we need to compile some similar guide for working through the counselor section for homeschoolers.

 

Yes, please. I have about tapped out my supply of problem-solving skills on some major family crises. I would love more hand-holding.

 

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You can go in and create a faux student application in order to see the buttonology.  When you do this select first time student if that is how your student  applying.  Then in the next column mark that you are a counselor curious about Common App.  You may want to use an email address that you won't be using for your correspondence as a recommender.  (IOW use an email that neither you nor your kid will be using during the college application cycle.)

 

I should have done this a while ago, because it would have let me go through the steps needed to have school report stuff ready to go.  I think I'm going to be spending quality time with my computer and some chocolate this weekend.

 

 

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Yes, please. I have about tapped out my supply of problem-solving skills on some major family crises. I would love more hand-holding.

 

I'm working on my counselor info this week. I'll try to capture some of the quirks and match it up to answers folks have shared here.

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Yes, please. I have about tapped out my supply of problem-solving skills on some major family crises. I would love more hand-holding.

 

 

Ditto!  I need some hand-holding, too.  I looked at the Common App today for the first time and the counselor section threw me with the box asking for 'Counselor's job title'.  I'm assuming we just put n/a?  

 

Also, my son is taking a gap year this year, after graduating this past May, and applying for Fall 2016.  There is this in the education section:

 

Please indicate if your progression through secondary school was or will be delayed or interrupted in any way.

 

Since it says "through secondary school", I assume my son would not indicate any interruption.  Then again, one option is "did or will take a gap year".  I thought a 'gap year' implied time off between high school and college, and wasn't used to describe an interruption during high school.  I began thinking that maybe it implies that "progression through secondary school" includes that time between high school and college, even though this makes no sense to me.  Another selection is "did or will graduate early", which doesn't indicate delaying or interrupting education.  I'm confused!  Would love to know your thoughts on this.

 

I'm sure this is just a few of many questions I'll have throughout this process!

 

Nancy in NH

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I looked at the Common App today for the first time and the counselor section threw me with the box asking for 'Counselor's job title'. I'm assuming we just put n/a?

 

I put "Homeschool Supervisor" as my job title.

 

Anything that describes the role you are playing as the person filling out the form will work. It's just to give the reader a bit of context as to how the person doing the form knows the student.

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I put "Homeschool Supervisor" as my job title.

 

Anything that describes the role you are playing as the person filling out the form will work. It's just to give the reader a bit of context as to how the person doing the form knows the student.

 

Thank you, Janet!  I like that.  My brain is on overload, and I just couldn't come up with something that seemed reasonable.

 

Nancy

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I considered Sergeant-Major or Dictator, but I believe I ultimately chose Educational Facilitator.

Regards,
Kareni

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Thank you, Janet!  I like that.  My brain is on overload, and I just couldn't come up with something that seemed reasonable.

 

Nancy

 

While I prefer to use Headmistress, I ended up putting Homeschool Counselor/Teacher

 

I think you are striking for something that indicates your are more than a teacher who is recommending based on a particular subject.  In other words, you have an administrative basis for answering questions about class rank and school grading policies that a classroom teacher might not.  

 

[i'm reminded of an old census survey we saw in the Midwest when doing genealogy.  One head of household replied that his occupation was Theocrat, and the census taker put it down.]

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So maybe if I compile suggestions as questions arise, we will end up with a crowd sourced guide.

 

Counselor Profile Info

 

Title

Pick something that makes it clear that you are able to speak in an administrative capacity, but the specific title you pick isn't going to be what makes or breaks a particular college application.

Examples:

Homeschool Supervisor

Educational Facilitator

Homeschool Counselor/Teacher

Administrator and Home-Based Instructor

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Ditto!  I need some hand-holding, too.  I looked at the Common App today for the first time and the counselor section threw me with the box asking for 'Counselor's job title'.  I'm assuming we just put n/a?  

 

Also, my son is taking a gap year this year, after graduating this past May, and applying for Fall 2016.  There is this in the education section:

 

Please indicate if your progression through secondary school was or will be delayed or interrupted in any way.

 

Since it says "through secondary school", I assume my son would not indicate any interruption.  Then again, one option is "did or will take a gap year".  I thought a 'gap year' implied time off between high school and college, and wasn't used to describe an interruption during high school.  I began thinking that maybe it implies that "progression through secondary school" includes that time between high school and college, even though this makes no sense to me.  Another selection is "did or will graduate early", which doesn't indicate delaying or interrupting education.  I'm confused!  Would love to know your thoughts on this.

 

I'm sure this is just a few of many questions I'll have throughout this process!

 

Nancy in NH

 

I looked at the explanation in the CollegeWise guide to the CA.  They mostly say not to overthink the response.  If you click one of the options other than "No Interuption" then you get a remarks block in which to explain the response.

 

Here's what I'd do.

 

Since the majority of students using CA will be going right from senior year of high school to freshman year of college, why not go ahead and mark the Gap Year option (this will help to explain why high school transcripts are dated 2015 and other similar possible question marks and will help reassure them that this isn't supposed to be a transfer app).  Then use the remarks block to give a positive little blurb about what he did on the gap year.

 

Think of it as a bonus couple paragraphs in which to describe the work, travel, volunteer time, etc from the gap year.  

 

 

I keep telling myself not to sweat the details too much.  I have to do my best with the application, but the difference between one word and another isn't going to make or break an application.  The applications will be assessed based on an aggregate of a lot of little things and I'll never really know what made an impact and what hindered.  I have to be at peace with that lack of knowledge.

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I looked at the explanation in the CollegeWise guide to the CA.  They mostly say not to overthink the response.  If you click one of the options other than "No Interuption" then you get a remarks block in which to explain the response.

 

Here's what I'd do.

 

Since the majority of students using CA will be going right from senior year of high school to freshman year of college, why not go ahead and mark the Gap Year option (this will help to explain why high school transcripts are dated 2015 and other similar possible question marks and will help reassure them that this isn't supposed to be a transfer app).  Then use the remarks block to give a positive little blurb about what he did on the gap year.

 

Think of it as a bonus couple paragraphs in which to describe the work, travel, volunteer time, etc from the gap year.  

 

 

I keep telling myself not to sweat the details too much.  I have to do my best with the application, but the difference between one word and another isn't going to make or break an application.  The applications will be assessed based on an aggregate of a lot of little things and I'll never really know what made an impact and what hindered.  I have to be at peace with that lack of knowledge.

 

Thank you.  I have been telling myself the same thing--to not sweat all the details.  I appreciate your help.

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As far as the counselor letter, do we upload it as a "third" transcript, first one being the one-page transcript, and the second page as the course description?  Also, can someone share "how" they wrote the counselor letter?  Thanks.

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Also, can someone share "how" they wrote the counselor letter? 

 

 

The approach I took was to compile a list of various character traits. I asked my husband to look it over and decide which characteristics best described our daughter. I did the same myself. Once I had that list of traits, I tried to think of anecdotes and experiences from my daughter's life that showed them. That was the basis of my counselor letter. Some of the traits I ended up ignoring simply because the letter was getting too long.

 

I also included one negative feature in the letter. I thought this was important in terms of balance. But I also tried to give it a positive spin.

 

Most of my paragraphs began in the present tense with a statement such as "DD has strong communication skills in writing and in public speaking."  What followed might be written in the past tense if it was an example that elaborated on my point.

 

One other thing I included in my letter were some comments from my daughter's outside the home teachers.  A tenth grade writing instructor had shared a copy of a letter of recommendation she had written for a summer camp; I used a quote from that as well as a quote from a writing tutor who had provided us with an end of year evaluation in ninth grade.  Both of these quotes were used in the paragraph whose opening I shared above.

 

If you'd care to see the list of character traits I compiled, send me a personal message with your email address, and I'll send it along.

 

Good luck with your writing!

 

Regards,

Kareni

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As far as the counselor letter, do we upload it as a "third" transcript, first one being the one-page transcript, and the second page as the course description?  Also, can someone share "how" they wrote the counselor letter?  Thanks.

 

No, the counselor recommendation letter is a separate document, that "unlocks" after the school report is submitted.

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I'm still in the midst of figuring out the counselor side of the CA.  Here's what I think I know at the moment.

 

You will need to create an account as a recommender.  During the process of signing up and creating a profile you will indicate that you are an advisor rather than a teacher.  The way I did this was to create a faux student account (use a different email address and mark both that you are a applying as a first year student (this was on the bottom left of the page) and that you are a counselor who is curious (this was on the top right of the same page).  Pick a college that this pretend student is applying to.  Then go into Recommenders and FERPA for that school and add a counselor as a recommender.  This will generate an invite to the counselor's email.  When you get this invite, the first thing it will do is prompt you to create a CA account.

[i used different emails for the student and the counselor log in.  You might want to save the email you are using for college correspondence for the counselor log in and use something different for the faux student log in.]

 

Remember that most counselors are working with dozens to hundreds of students.  You will put in contact info for you (the counselor), then school info, and last info on the specific student.  The school profile will go in the general school info section, along with info on how many AP and honors classes are offered, if grades are weighted and other info that would be the same for any number of students.  All of this is under the tab marked Profile.  You can go back and edit most things, but it seems that CA usually opens to the Students tab when you log in again (or maybe it reopens what I had open last session?)

 

Then you will have a Students tab where you will see each student that has added you as a counselor.  You can click on each student and see which schools they are applying to.  This will then open the student's view in the Workspace tab.  You will be able to answer questions about class rank, gpa, disciplinary history, etc.  Answers that would apply to all students at the school seem to auto populate into other students.  So for example, when I marked that D was the highest passing mark in the section for my pretend student, then that answer was already filled in for my ds.

 

The sections in the Workspace for a student are Class Rank, GPA, Curriculum (like were they IB students), Ratings, Disciplinary History, Transcripts and Homeschool.  Presumably the Homeschool section only shows up for students who mark Homeschool as their school.

 

You can mark that you have up to 4 transcripts to upload.  It seems that you can change the number of transcripts (at least up to a certain point).

 

In addition, there is a Counselor Recommendation, Optional Report, Mid-Year Report and Final Report section.  It looks like these don't open up until the full school report for the student has been submitted.  (In other words, I don't think I can get to the Counselor Recommendation section unless I've already submitted the Transcript and other info on the student.  This is where it really helps to have a pretend student to mess around on.)

 

 

Hope this helps someone.  I'm feeling pretty behind the curve in all of this.

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Also remember that the right sidebar has specific help topics that relate to the page you are on.   Sometimes they just restate what is on the form, but some of the answers are pretty detailed, for example the one on uploading transcripts lists file size, what format to use and some troubleshooting suggestions.

 

One of the help items says that there may be issues with uploading documents using Firefox.

 

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Short video from CA on the recommendation process.  This covers setting up your account and managing students.  It contains info for recommenders and counselors. This might be helpful to send to teachers you are asking to send recommendations.  

 

From the video.  This is a one and done process.  Once you have submitted a document like the school profile, it will be available to a college after the student submits their application to that college.  (In other words, you don't have to release to individual schools.)  But you also cannot tailor the school report or recommendations to specific colleges.  

 

You will have an opportunity to review a pdf of what you submitted for the student before approving and completing the full submission.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=izBoFPAy8v8&feature=youtu.be

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Article about counselor's letters to share...

 

http://hscw-counselorscorner.blogspot.com/2015/09/a-quick-refresher-on-counselor-letters.html

 

Note the part about how many busy counselors only have time to write a paragraph, if that. You don't have to do much to be "better than average" here.

 

Thanks for sharing!

 

Nancy

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As far as the counselor letter, do we upload it as a "third" transcript, first one being the one-page transcript, and the second page as the course description?  Also, can someone share "how" they wrote the counselor letter?  Thanks.

 

So my .pdf of the transcript plus course descriptions is about 650 KB and the limit is 500KB.  Is there something I can do to easily make take a little less memory or should I just split it into two documents and upload the transcript as one and the course descriptions as the other?

 

I have up to four slots for transcripts.  I might upload copies of the community college transcripts as a third item, but I'm also assuming that we'll need to request official college transcripts to be sent to each school.  

 

I have a separate school profile that I've entered separately.  

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So my .pdf of the transcript plus course descriptions is about 650 KB and the limit is 500KB.  Is there something I can do to easily make take a little less memory or should I just split it into two documents and upload the transcript as one and the course descriptions as the other?

 

I have up to four slots for transcripts.  I might upload copies of the community college transcripts as a third item, but I'm also assuming that we'll need to request official college transcripts to be sent to each school.  

 

I have a separate school profile that I've entered separately.  

 

I am planning to submit the transcript as one document and the course descriptions separately.  However I decide to list the courses on the transcript (by year or by subject--not sure yet), will be how I list them on the course descriptions for ease of comparison.  I also haven't decided if I'm including the materials/texts/resources in the course descriptions or if I should prepare yet another document for that.  If I do, I'll follow the same conventions there.

 

Hope this helps!

Nancy in NH

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I plan on submitting 2 separate uploads: one for the official transcript and one for the course description.  My course description includes materials/texts/ resources. I also have a separate document for school profile that I will upload in the profile section.

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