Your Common App School Report and Counselor Recommendation

Within your first two weeks back at school, be sure to set up a meeting with your high school college counselor or school administrator to discuss the School’s Report and the Counselor’s Recommendation that are part of the Common Application. Your Counselor is the person who creates your School Report, which is required by the Common Application and by most other colleges that do not use the CA. The School Report accompanies your School Transcript (your grades for the past 3 years) and, hopefully, a School Profile (brief description of your school).

Ideally, your Counselor will also write a separate, personal Counselor’s Recommendation, if s/he has time. In the best of all possible worlds, s/he will meet with your teachers and/or read your former teachers’ comments so as to gather information about you and to represent your strengths. Hopefully also, your Counselor has gotten to know you throughout your past three years at school (or two, or one!). If, however, your school counselor handles all the paperwork for more than 50 seniors (and yes, at some public schools, even good ones, the counselor load can be over 400 students, across all years!), you may be out of luck in being able to provide an actual Counselor’s Recommendation as well as the basic School Report.

This is the first year that the Counselor’s Recommendation has been separated from the School Report, and is not requested or expected by over 200 colleges and universities. Please see this excellent article by Nancy Griesemer (“Important changes to the Common App school counselor recommendation system“) so you can better understand the changes in this year’s Common Application’s School Report and Counselor’s Recommendation.

Schedule a meeting with your counselor in the first week or two of school, and do not go empty-handed! Bring along the following:

1) A resume, or a list of your extra curricular and personal activities during the past three years. School counselors, like admission officers, value humility and appreciate honesty, but they need to know what you have done and achieved outside of their classrooms, beyond their experience of you.

  • Include ways you have contributed to the school in general, or to your larger community, and significant summer activities.
  • You can mention particular skills or personal strengths, and let the recommenders know what areas of study interest you.
  • Any career goals?

2) A list of colleges to which you are considering applying (you can change it later!).

3) Note any special reasons and programs for applying to specific schools.

Ask your counselor for his or her email address. You will then enter that contact information into your Common Application in the first college on your list. Click the ‘assign’ button, and the Common App will email your counselor with the required School Report form.

International students, you need to talk with the head of school, dean, or whatever administrator will prepare the School Report for you (check out the form for this recommendation in the Common Application). If that person knows you personally or is willing to talk with teachers about your contribution to the school, then do request a Counselor’s Recommendation, also.  This ‘counselor’/ administrator is a vital team member who needs to be brought up to date with your college planning ideas, testing plan and scores. It’s important to have a very good relationship with your counselor so that person can represent you to best advantage. The School Report is very significant, and a Counselor’s Recommendation can be the most important Recommendation you’ll receive!

Written by Joyce Reed

(c) College Goals LLC 2015

List of Colleges Extending EA/ED Deadlines

Here is a list of colleges and universities that have extended their Early Action and/or Early Decision deadlines because of the problems with the Common Application.  This information will be updated regularly.

Deadlines extended to October 21

  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill  –  EA
  • Georgia Tech –  EA
  • Roanoke College

Deadlines extended to November 1

  • Temple University — EA

Deadlines extended to November 4

Deadlines extended to November 5

  • Loyola Marymount University — EA
  • Chapman University — EA

Deadlines extended to November 6

Deadlines extended to November 7

Deadlines extended to November 8

Deadlines extended to November 10

  • Vanderbilt University — EA1

Deadlines extended to November 11

  • George Washington Univ –  ED1
  • University of Vermont – EA
  • University of Pennsylvania — ED
  • Saint Michael’s College (VT) — EA1

Deadlines extended to November 15

Deadlines extended to November 20

Deadlines extended to November 22

Deadlines extended to November 29

  • Furman University — EA
  • Hendrix University — EA

Deadlines extended to December 1


last updated 11November2013

Common App Essay Topics 2013-2014

Early this week, the Common Application revealed the new questions that will serve as the prompts/questions to which you must respond in writing your very important Common Application essay. I am attaching them at the bottom of this blog, so you can begin to think about the many possible ways you might develop your very personalized response.

Please note that for the first time ever, the Common App’s questions are ‘required’ – not optional. However, they are very general and open-ended. The first question allows almost as much flexibility in your response as the former and most popular question . . . . ‘Topic of your choice”.

This year, unfortunately, there will be no option to upload your essay document as an attachment to your application. Instead, you will need to copy your final essay version (after you have thoroughly reviewed, discussed, modified, edited it) and place it in a box in the online application.

Consequently, virtually all your formatting is likely to be lost . . . including space between paragraphs. Furthermore, the box will force you to keep within the word limit, which will be between 250 – 650 words . . . not one extra! . . . with an ideal goal of approximately 500 words.

To be honest, I do not think these new strictures will in any way reduce your ability to present yourself as a dynamic, interesting, worthy applicant . . . and since they apply to every applicant, the challenges will be faced by every student.

One piece that I do consider to be something of a loss is a short piece (1000 characters = approx. 180 words!) that previous years’ Common App. asked students to ‘briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences in the space below.’ I am sorry to see this option for self-expression go . . . so many of my students have written really dynamic essays that have revealed so much about their interests, goals, achievements, lessons! It is my hope and expectation, now that the Common App prompts are available, individual colleges will be developing a question regarding students’ activities in their college-specific Supplement Applications.

Dear students, please know that the more you ‘have’ to write, the greater your opportunity to reveal just why you belong on a certain college’s campus because of all you will contribute as a student and as a campus citizen. Enjoy your essays!

Common App questions:
• Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their
application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

• Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons
did you learn?

• Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you
make the same decision again?

• Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience
there, and why is it meaningful to you?

• Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from
childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.