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Articles / Applying to College / Custom Common Application for Early Action College?

Oct. 14, 2011

Custom Common Application for Early Action College?

Question: I am going to use Common Application for my Early Action college. My advisor told me it is better to write an essay addressed to that particular school. However, the Common App only allows me to submit one essay for all the colleges. How can I solve this problem using the Common App? Can I submit my EA essay first and then change it during regular decision?

Yes, you CAN submit different versions of the Common Application, if you so choose. (A small hassle yet definitely do-able.) But doesn't your EA school have a supplement? If so, are there essays in the supplement (or short-answer responses) that address (or indicate) your interest in that particular college or are otherwise school-specific?


It sounds like your advisor wants to keep your application from sounding too generic and is trying to help you to "demonstrate interest" (big admission buzz-words these days) in that particular college. But there are OTHER, usually better ways to do this (campus visits, local info sessions, interview, etc.).

The typical, good Common App essay does not reference ANY particular college, so I'm not sure that your counselor's advice is on target. It would be helpful to know where you are applying and what you plan to say in the main Common App essay if you were to customize it for your EA school.

(posted 10/14/2011)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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