By Barclay Sparrow and Samantha Linder
Everyone knows the Common App is live as of August 1st, creating a frenzy of both excitement and panic. We, of course, want to help alleviate some of that fright with a step-by-step guide to the Common App, but we know how totally boring that can be to read, so we’re changing it up a bit.
It’s no secret that the TP staffers are a bunch of awesome nerds, so we’ve decided to add some fun into the mix. Here is the answer to the age old question we know everyone has pondered at least once (probably): How would Hermione Granger fill out the Common App?
First is the profile. Standard information, short and sweet. Hermione’s a little late in the game with that 1979 birth year, but she’s a capable witch who’s just here for the learning. Being around a younger crowd won’t bother her. This part is pretty straightforward as long as you know your own name (which we hope you do). Similarly you will fill out boxes about where you live, what language(s) you speak, etc. If you’re stressed about the Common App this is a great place to start – almost zero thinking required.
Then there’s the parent information. Hermione’s parents are proud Muggle dentists, which makes her a first-generation Wizarding student! You’ll need contact and employment info, and this information is repeated for both parents and siblings (if applicable).
This is to help colleges get a comprehensive idea about who you are and the life you’re coming from. If you don’t know how to label what you’re parents do (we didm’$t, and we’re not sure if we should be embarrassed about that yet) just ask them for a simple job title that the Common App can process.
The school and headmaster information are easy to fill out, but it’s just ridiculous to try and account for all of Dumbledore’s middle names. You can ask your counselor for all of this information in the case that you don’t already have it. You will need to provide phone numbers and emails as well, which Hermione is unfortunately missing. Hogwarts has terrible reception. If you have attended multiple high schools you will be able to fill out information pertaining to that as well.
Hermione doesn’t need to be the least bit shy about her grades. Top of her class, even with those intelligent Ravenclaws to compete with! But don’t let her GPA scare you about your own – she is an extreme case. Make sure you know about whether or not your school weights your classes. Some schools will weight grades from certain types of classes that others don’t and it can be confusing.
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The rigor of your curriculum is often one of the most important factors that colleges consider, and that will come through on your list of classes. They should receive a full transcript for your entire high school career, but the Common App course section is specific to the current year. Hermione’s schedule shows an ambitious set of classes, but her third year will probably be the one leaving the officers scratching her heads – they’ll never guess about her time turner!
The Common App does not take O.W.L.s and N.E.W.T.s, but we’re including this section anyway. This section is really about personal preference. Colleges will need to receive your test scores through the official source (make sure you request to send them!), but if you’re super proud of your accomplishments in that area this is where you put them.
Hermione will go on to work in the Ministry of Magic promoting equality in the Magical world, so it only makes sense she would want to bring to attention that she started her activism as early as when she was just fifteen! Her hat-knitting crusade shows leadership and initiative. When filling out your own activities section, action verbs are key. Make it clear what you actively did to contribute to whatever you participate in.
Perhaps even more impressive is Hermione’s role in the creation of Dumbledore’s Army, a ‘club’ created for students with unsatisfied enthusiasm for Defense Against the Dark arts when Umbridge was on a rampage throughout the school. It’s a testament to Hermione’s penchant for going beyond the limitations of the classroom.
Colleges will want to see that from you as much as possible, along with reliable information about how much of your free time goes to such activities. If the hours per week are not consistent try to think of an average time if you calculated all of the hours over the course of the year or few months they occurred.
The Honors section can be intimidating. What counts is sometimes uncertain, and there are always the people who seem to get all of the school or state awards while others feel like they don’t have much to say. THAT’S OK! Hermione has her Prefect status going for her, but remember that Harry Potter had mediocre grades, no prefect badge, and a long record of detentions. That never stopped him.
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Having your whole life planned and knowing what you want to do for decades to come is absolutely not a requirement for getting into college. Admissions officers know that whatever you put in this sections is probably going to change, possibly even before they send out acceptance letters. It’s more for curiosity and to see if there are any students who are pursuing a minority major that the school may have special interest in.
Read Even More: Using a “Back-Door” Major to Get into Your Dream College
Being the best friend of Harry Potter and a veteran of the Second Wizarding War has its perks – including juicy subjects for the Common App essays. Hermione, though, appreciates subtlety. Her name is famous and her accomplishments can be well accounted for in the other sections of the application, so her topic of choice is more ‘show’ and less ‘tell.’ Writing about her love of libraries says much more about who she is on the inside than the duels she got into with Death Eaters.
Read More: Which CommonApp Essay Should You Write?
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We hope this guide will help you with your own journey through the Common App. It’s only as scary as you make it, so cast a Riddikulus charm, channel you inner Gryffindor, and plow through like you’re ready to win the House Cup!