Counselors who are still in the building will want to take a moment to pass some important reminders on to rising seniors and their families about Common Application.

Nearly all of us now know Common Application is going to an updated version, and most students are aware that this new version is debuting August 1st. What many students seem to have forgotten in these first few weeks of summer is that all Common Application accounts opened now will be permanently closed on July 1.  This means anyone who wanted to get a jump on the new Common Application is actually working on the old Common App, and they won’t be able to access any of this work come Monday—plus, it won’t be transferred to any new CA account they create on or after August 1.

If students are looking for something to do that will help them move their college applications along, you could once again give them the link to the Common Application essay topics that will be used next year.  These are new topics, which must be between 250-650 words, and can be found at

As I said, you could send this prompt along—but let me encourage you not to.  All of these eager students are to be admired for their advanced planning and industrious view of college applications, but there is some evidence to suggest that all of this early writing is leading to very plain essays.  There’s only so many times a student can revisit the same topic and not lose interest, and that isn’t the kind of writing colleges want to see.  Instead, I would recommend you pass along some solid advice about when and how to pursue a thoughtful essay—advice which directs students to start writing no earlier than August 1.

Finally, it’s a good idea to remind students that they have to include their counselor’s e-mail address on Common Application if the student wants the counselor to send the required Secondary School Report, and the student’s transcript.  If you’re going to e-mail them to remind them of the August 1 start date, it’s a good idea to add your name; the school’s official name and six digit CEEB code, and your e-mail address.  This increases the chances these forms will get to you sooner rather than later, and that gives you a fighting chance to get organized...

…and remember to send the reminder e-mail to parents as well as students.  I’d like to say all these hard charging seniors are jumping the gun because they love the idea of going to college, but many of them are doing this because they love the idea of getting their well-meaning parents off their backs.  Since you’re a counselor, you should help them achieve their personal goals—make sure the e-mail goes to Mom and Dad, too.