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College Apps, Essay Timeline

Dear {firstname}

This email is for families with rising Seniors (Class of 2015), but if you have younger kids you’re also welcome to read it! 🙂

Today’s college-bound kids have a crazy amount of work to do, if they aspire to gain admission to competitive schools.

First, there’s the Common Application essay, which is a pain in the tuchus.

You get a choice of five, severely cliched questions. They expect you to write a non-cliche answer.

The questions are not only stupid, but they have no bearing on reality.

Can you imagine being told at work, “Here, go write a 650 word piece on a challenge you overcame and the lesson you learned from it.”

But that’s only the beginning.

Many top schools, private and public, require ADDITIONAL, supplemental essays (if they accept the Common App.). For example, Wake Forest required five supplemental essays last year.


Blame the Common App.

There are now more than 500 colleges that accept the Common Application, roughly double the amount five years ago.

One unintended consequence is that admissions offices now have little feel for their “Yield” – the ratio of admitted students to those who say “Yes – I’m coming (and buying the sweatshirt)!”

If a large proportion of admits say “Thanks, but no thanks,” that hurts the college’s rank in US News and World Report and elsewhere.

Admissions officers want to know that they have a good shot at landing you if they admit you, which is hard to do when kids apply to 20 schools with the click of one button.

I think the multiple essay supplements are a form of asking you to show commitment to the college.

After all, if a kid writes six essays for one school, he’s either highly interested or a nut job.

My recommndations for Class of 2015 kids, particularly those with 10-12 or more colleges on their list:

Start on the Common App essay NOW. Brainstorm the topics, pick the one that sucks the least, draft it. Put yourself on a strict timeline to produce drafts, have someone hold you accountable. (Sometimes Mom or Dad is the right person, sometimes they are horribly wrong choices.)

Cut/paste all supplemental essay questions into one document, so you can see what you’re dealing with. And see what, if any, essay questions overlap. Create a timeline for producing work and be accountable.

Get your resume together.

Fill out the Common App after August 1

Get all this crapola done BEFORE going back to school in the fall! Many of your friends and peers will be struggling with all this stuff, PLUS schoolwork, well into November and beyond.

Imagine how great it would feel to be done in September, while everyone else is complaining and whining about how much work they have to do!

Please don’t keep the College Success for Less Bulletin a secret- forward it to any friend, relatives, clients, etc. who could benefit from this advice!


– Andy Lockwood

P.S. Need help with any/all of the above for your Class of 2015 student? We are reaching capacity but still have room to take on a few more clients for the fall. But we usually close out sometime in July.

If interested, book a free 20 minute Strategy Session,

Andrew Lockwood