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If you’re a senior, it’s safe to say that your search for college is in full swing. While it’s totally possible that you have already made a definite decision about where you will be attending college next semester, it’s also okay if you have no clue about your options. Looking beyond your hometown and learning more about colleges and universities that appeal to you is something that I can’t stress enough. The interest in general can be a great resource to use when searching for schools. More specifically, The Common App website is a website that is completely filled with information about everything you need to know about colleges. The Prospect has plenty of articles mentioning this site, and I’m sure that you have already at least heard of the site from some of your high school teachers. However, the website has been updated recently and I want to make it clear what has changed and the general ways that you can use it during these stressful couple of months for you seniors.

Enhanced College Search Page

Using the enhanced college search page is incredibly helpful. They’ve always had information about colleges, but this new feature that was added early this fall is much more specific. Taking it one step further than that, they also allow you to save the colleges that you are interested in. To do that though, you must make an account with the website, but doing that is definitely worth the few minutes it takes to fill out your information. If you’re not sure what college you are looking for, note the specific criteria on the sidebar that you can use to narrow down your search. It asks you questions like what is the college type of the school you’re looking for, public or private? It also asks you to choose whether you’re interested in co-ed, women only, men only, or coordinate. This may not seem like all that big of a deal, but it can still give you more of an idea of what you are looking for in a school.

Financial aid information

There is definitely not a shortage of financial aid websites out there. So why do you need to even bother with this one? The short answer is that college professionals run this website so they know their stuff. Sure, they don’t tell you much that others you’ve heard about haven’t already, but it is still good to know. I personally believe that you can never know too much about getting money for college. There’s always stuff that you’ll already know, and stuff that you have no clue about. Give this one a look because this is a trusted website.

Check out the college deadlines

Common App has a huge spreadsheet filled with deadlines for when you can submit an application to hundreds of colleges. It also includes stuff you need to know about whether or not the school requires an essay, application fees, whether an ACT or SAT is required, and other general information about the universities and colleges. This is one of the most important resources for you as a student getting ready to apply to college. It has everything you need to know with the appropriate dates all in one document. Make sure to save this and use it as a frequent source!

Essay prompt suggestions

There has been plenty of articles on The Prospect about how to write a decent admissions essay, so I’m not going to repeat any of that. What I am going to say is that there are a few minor changes to the Common App essay for this year. As you can tell from this older TP article about the Common App Essay, not much is new this year. The majority of the questions are the same as they’ve been for the past several years now, but the wording has been changed just a little bit. My words of wisdom is to be as real as you possibly can, but don’t get too personal either. Give them a piece of who you are and let the admissions officers know why you are different from the thousands of other students you might be competing against.

Good luck with the rest of your journey through selecting a college and also the college application process! I hope that some of my suggestions about the website will be semi useful to you. Don’t forget to get in touch with a counselor at your high school if this stuff is getting too overwhelming for you. If that is intimidating to you, then this website should serve as a wonderful source that you can return to time and time again.

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