Guest Post

Guest Post for Seniors: 7 Steps to Survive the Common App

Comments Off on Guest Post for Seniors: 7 Steps to Survive the Common App 03 August 2015


Did you know that the Common Application went live August 1st? If you are taking a look at all the requirements and don’t know where to start or are feeling overwhelmed, we have you covered! We’ve partnered with Carol Barash, PhD, founder and CEO, Story2, and author of Write Out Loud to share some great tips that will help you tackle the app successfully.


“Make every word tell!”

— E. B. White and Wiliam Strunk Jr., The Elements of Style

The Common Application (aka “Common App”) was created by a consortium of high school guidance counselors and admissions officers from over 500 selective colleges. It serves as the backbone of US college admissions. While the Common App may initially seem long and overly complicated, with the right approach you can be one of the students who completes it successfully.

If you are a senior and thinking about applying to college this year, your version of the Common App was just released on August 1st, so it’s time to get started now.

At Story2, we want you to succeed in gaining admission and scholarships to your best fit colleges. We’re here to help you make sure the Common App reveals your unique character– especially through the essays, the part students say they struggle with most. Showing colleges who you really are–beyond grades and test scores–is how you stand out from thousands of similar students to win admissions and scholarships.

Here are 7 steps to streamline your Common Application process and help you get to the goal of college admissions and college success:

  1. Get to know the Common Application: It’s free to start an account, so sign up as soon as possible.
  1. Get organized: Applying for college admissions and scholarships includes a lot of different tasks, frequently due on different dates–including things you need to get from other people. Get organized with Story2’s College Essay Planner
  1. The forms take time: There is a lot of factual information, including information about your parents’ education and personal financial information that may take some time to track down. Get started now, and make sure to give yourself plenty of time.
  1. When you get to the Achievements section, slow down! This is where the Common Application is more than just a list. You should include specific details in the text boxes about each activity to show what you’ve actually done.
  1. Tell a Story in your Personal Essay: The essays are the most important part of your application after your academic record (grades and test scores). The job of the essays is to reveal your character, so tell a story only you can tell. The Story2 EssayBuilder (which we’re offering free of charge to the College Greenlight community) teaches you how, step by step.
  1. Take the Supplements Seriously: Use each supplement essay–to each college–to share new information about your character. Make sure you answer the specific type of question for each college.
  1. Address Special Situations directly: Discuss with your guidance counselor how to use the Additional Information essay and required essay about Discipline to address unique circumstances in your background.

One more bonus tip: When you have questions about college applications–and college–ask your teachers and college counselors for help. Reaching out to others to help you navigate new situations helps to relieve stress–and it’s an attribute of college success!

Want more info about these 7 steps?


95% of the students we’ve worked with say that Story2 increased their ability to master college admission essays and their writing confidence. And it’s free for the College Greenlight community. So, it’s easy and painless to get started.



carolDr. Carol Barash, former English professor and advisor to the admissions committee at Douglass College, Rutgers University, author of Write Out Loud, and founder and CEO of Story2, has empowered over 20,000 students to write authentic admission and scholarship essays. She has been building digital communications tools for over 20 years, and through Story2 teaches the neuroscience of storytelling to expand college access and career readiness. Have questions about storytelling, college admissions, and life choices? #AMA on Twitter @carolbarash.

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