Hey Class of 2021! Seems like only a couple days ago we last talked – wait – IT WAS just a couple days ago! Here’s Part 2 of my August Rant that I promised you!

In a scene from Steve Martin’s 1979 movie “The Jerk”, his nebbish-y character Navin R. Johnson runs pell mell down the street upon seeing his name in print for the first time (in the phonebook), declaring to anyone within earshot:

“The New Phonebook is Here! THE NEW PHONEBOOK IS HERE!!!!”

How times have changed. Who uses phone books any more? Do they even print them?

No matter … at this time every summer I find myself filled with excitement and a desire to pronounce to all near and far, whether they give a plugged nickel about it or not:

“The new Common Application is here! THE NEW COMMON APPLICATION IS HERE!!”
Yeah, I’m a bit of a nebbish myself when it comes to this sort of stuff… every August 1st a brand spanking new Common Application comes out, and that means that you can – and should – access, register for free, and – wonder of wonders – begin filling out what will become (for many if not most of your colleges) your bona fide, actual college application!!!

So join in my excitement and go to this web site:


and click on the “apply now” link, hit the “First Year Student” button, follow directions to create your account and get your college applications started!!

(Nota Bene: DO NOT GO TO www.commonapp.com to set up your common app! That’s a private pay-to-play site which is trying to hoodwink you!)

Those of you who have already started the 2019/20 common application can do an “application rollover” by logging in to your existing common application and follow a few simple steps and affirmations. It’s so easy even a college advisor like myself can do it, so jump right in and get in to the new 2020/21 common application and do your thing! All information will roll over EXCEPT any potential college supplemental writing you did – those you must start anew).
Note that you need to include at least one number, letters (one capital, one lower case) and a symbol (!@#$%^&*) in your ten to thirty-two (really?!!) character password. Make sure you write down your password (and don’t be too cute – you don’t want to lose it!).

After you’ve registered, go to the “College Search” link and type in the name – or partial name – of a college from your top 10 list and hit “search”. You don’t need to fill in every blank – takes too long – just a partial name and you’ll be able to locate your school.

Click the box next to your college and then click “Add”.

Do this for every school on your list (don’t be exclusive at this stage – you can add and remove schools freely over the next five months) and then go to your ‘Dashboard’ and voila, there’s your college list!

If you can’t find a particular school (after making sure you’re spelling it correctly) it most likely means that that school doesn’t take the common application. Not to worry! Just make a note that you’ll have to register and fill out that school’s own on-line application. No big deal!
Now begin filling out the common application. The sections are: “Profile” “Family” “Education” “Testing” “Activities” “Writing”

The last section, “Courses and Grades”, is somewhat nonsensical and you’ll most likely not have to complete it. If it says you do curse a bit and follow directions. Just busywork, and you’ll need to work off your transcript so get a hold of that if you don’t already have a copy.

Note that with the exception of the “Writing” and “Activities” sections, all the other portions of the common app are easily completed.

You’ll also be able to see which, if any, of your schools require additional writing – either in the form of an additional essay or short answer questions. Look in the dashboard under each college for “Questions” and “Writing Supplement”. Most of the “Questions” will be quick and easy, go ahead and fill out all those short answer responses. It’s the writing supplements which usually entail some extra work. But note also that most schools don’t require an additional writing supplement!

Keep track, and in a future rant I’ll talk about how to organize all of your extra writing on a central ’to-do’ list I call “The Grid”.
So there you have your next assignment campers: register and then fill out the “Profile”, “Family”, “Education”, “Testing” and “Activities” sections of the common application! This is exciting!!! You’re really doing it!!!!!!


Remember from my last rant that this is a great time to be writing your first and your second (extra…additional…icing on the cake…one for the Gipper) essays. You also should have (or be constructing) an academic / activity resume which you’ll find multiple uses for. Those of you who’ve met with me have a template to follow. If you’ve not met with me – what are you waiting for?!! – contact me and I’ll share said template with you.

If any of the above has you confused, if you’re still struggling to get going on your essays, resume, list of colleges, or if you just want to qvell with me about my Yankee’s fast start in this mini – season (how ‘bout that Aaron Judge!!!!), give me a call or email and we’ll chat. This time of year I’m about helping students organize their ‘to do’ list for the remainder of the summer and the fall.

And remember to relax, it’s summer vacation fer cryin’ out loud! Keep safe and sane and enjoy yourself!

From Gary, the College Guy

P.S. As always, feel free to forward this email to other rising seniors and their parents, or send me names/email addresses of folks whom you think would benefit from reading my rants. Or you can refer your friends to my web page, which has all my rants for anyone to see. IMHO there’s not enough good, coherent information out there, and you’ve just waded through about the best there is!

P.P.S. If you’d rather not receive these semi-occasional missives, let me know, and you won’t!