Rising Seniors – Now Is the Time to Start the College Application Process

Rising Seniors – Now Is the Time to Start the College Application Process


Written by – Admissions Expert, Dr. Lowe

It’s August and for some rising seniors, school starts in approximately 30 days. For many students, school will be closed and taught in an online fashion. That in and of itself will be an additional disruption in the dynamics of the college admissions process. You can use this time to continue to vacation, relax and enjoy the summer or take full advantage of all this free time!

For rising seniors, now is the best time to commence working on your college applications. Why so soon? The 2020-2021 Common Application is now ready! The senior year of high school is extremely busy with students taking difficult courses, working on activities, preparing for college applications and just trying to enjoy the last year of high school!

We believe that you should enjoy the summer, HOWEVER, at this point, you need to start putting some work in to your college applications. It will make your senior year more pleasant AND your college admissions application and journey smoother.

The Common App is more than just the main essay! Every section is devised so that the admissions officers get to know (or find ways to reject) a student. When reading an application, admissions officers strive to gain a reasonably complete picture of a student – strengths, achievements and aspirations as well as any particular challenges they may have overcome. Statistically, it takes top colleges approximately 8 minutes to review an entire application!

We spend countless hours reviewing our clients’ entire Common Application to help them successfully navigate and avoid the unnecessary and devastating landmines that cause rejections!

  • Biographical Section (Profile, Family, Educational & Testing) – The admissions committees or your regional admissions officers assess who you are. It’s important to answer the questions honestly and with precision!
  • Personal Statement – We ensure that our clients’ Common App 650-word main essay accurately reflects the information that they want to convey to the majority of colleges to which they are applying.
  • College-Specific Questions – Academic interest, program(s) applying to. Some colleges may also ask additional questions about your family, state of residence, activities, and general interests. Admissions officers/committees use this as a way to further understand a student’s past and their academic goals and objectives and how they are all interrelated and interconnected.
  • Short Answers – Then there are the school-specific (short answer essays)! Although short, these little essays (50-250 words) can play a meaningful role in your application. They provide a small window into your passions and personality, and because of this, they are important “decision-breakers,” especially with selective colleges that use the holistic admissions approach. We spend just as much time brainstorming and helping our clients to revise these, seemingly simple essays, as we do with their personal statements because we know how admissions committees use them to determine acceptance or rejections. Types of supplemental short essays include but are not limited to:

The ‘why us’ essay

Tell us more about an extracurricular

Design a class/a major

Tell us about your major

Diversity-in-community essay

Specialty small essays (list, words or one sentence or a phrase)

  • Activities Section – Whereas the personal statement will show college admissions committees who you are, the Common Application Activities section will allow colleges to understand what you have done outside of the classroom, offering one of the best opportunities to stand out among other applicants. The activities section has a limit of ten extracurricular activities. The restrictions mean you will need to be selective in reporting your activities, limiting you to the most important ones or those that are most meaningful to you. In our experience, students can make costly mistakes in this section!

Without college essays and extracurricular activities lists, colleges would be limited to grades, class rank, and ACT and SAT scores to make their admissions decisions. Given that so many students with strong numbers apply to college each year, it’s important for you to use the Activities section to develop an application theme, that is, your “WOW FACTOR” and specialties. We leave no stone unturned in this section!

  • Courses & Grades (Self-Reporting Transcripts) – In this section, you have an opportunity to self-report your grades. In reviewing our clients’ answers, we find errors. It’s important to review this section. A discrepancy with what you report and your transcript raises a red flag! These flags translate into a rejection letter.

The Common Application is not just an application. It’s a puzzle filled with landmines that if not reviewed, interpreted and completed correctly will result in students being rejected from schools. The most frequent form of self-inflicted damage is careless preparation of the application. A poorly presented application can, in fact, have a negative affect on an admissions decision.

When assisting our clients with the completion of their Common Applications, we take into consideration their student admissions profile and character as well as the specific admissions policies and missions of their target schools that we gather from our research by visiting schools and professional relationships. Our proprietary knowledge and experience help our clients to WIN (not lose) in the college competitive admissions game!

To learn more about Dr. Lowe and his unique college admissions advisory services, please review this video.


“Admissions is a competitive sport!  Why gamble with uncertainty?” – Dr. Paul Lowe

“Parents hire us because they choose to pay an admissions expert who will help them avoid making mistakes.” – Dr. Paul Lowe

Dr. Paul Reginald Lowe is the managing director and lead admissions expert at Greenwich Admissions Advisors. Tel. (203) 542-7288, and founder affiliates – Ivy League Admissions Advisors and Private School Admissions Advisors of the Pinnacle Educational Center Admissions Advisors Group network.

Dr. Lowe specializes in providing exclusive service for families and students who are interested in applying to top private schools, Ivy League and highly selective colleges and combined BS/MD programs. Dr. Lowe also helps students gain admissions into their top choice private schools and colleges after they have been wait-listed and rejected.