Started Your Common App? Now It’s About Supplementing the Supplement By Nina Berler

August 1st isn’t just the beginning of a month; it’s also the launch date of the Common Application. Last year, over 940 million college-bound students used the Common App to submit over four million applications. On its landing page, the Common Application organization states, “More than 700 colleges. Only one application.” But don’t think that you can fill out the Common App, upload your personal essay, and hit a button to apply to every college.  When you add to “My Colleges,” look carefully. In numerous cases, there are additional essay questions.



Address the Supplemental Essays with Care

We all know that the personal essay is an important way to tell your story.  But most supplemental essay prompts (for example, “Describe how GW offers a strong fit with your interest, talents, and goals”) provide you, the applicant, with a way to show your knowledge about the college and display how you’d fit in and contribute while on campus. Just like essays you write in high school, successful responses have a thesis and support that thesis with clear evidence.

Be Proactive in Other Ways

Essays are no longer the only way you have to show admissions officers what you’re all about. Applying to college means putting your social media skills to work. You can do this using:

Established platforms: Even if platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are already familiar to you, you’re not likely to have used them with college in mind. You also probably haven’t optimized them for inspection by colleges, increasing awareness of what you have to offer. You need to wisely use tools that make you stand out to admissions officers and others who could help elevate your application, such professors or interviewers.

Social Assurity, a company dedicated to helping students use social media proactively, recommends inviting colleges to view your digital presence. According to founder Alan Katzman, “A robust digital portfolio reflecting a student’s activities, accomplishments, interests, and community service creates actionable data upon which schools and scholarship committees can make informed acceptance decisions.”  So why not use social media to your benefit?

A platform developed for applicants: Now you can avail yourself of a free service launched specifically for you to tell your story through video: ZeeMee. Now in 128 countries and 13,000 high schools, ZeeMee is used by thousands of admissions counselors from over 250 partner colleges. Once you create a ZeeMee profile, all you need to do is paste your link into those colleges’ applications or the Common App Additional Information section, and the admissions officers are a click away from learning more about you! It is a quick glance, yet also very powerful.

According to Ethan Lin, Head of Education at ZeeMee, “Colleges have made it clear that the insight they gain from authentic student video helps them get to know students better as human beings. Meanwhile, students are using a familiar app interface on ZeeMee to share their story and character.”

Lin adds, “A key feature we’re introducing in 2017-18 is centered around video content, along with others that make ZeeMee even easier and powerful for students.” Central to the enhancements are “casual, yet insightful” questions prompts that serve as stimuli for students to create 26-second video responses.

Find Out More!

With killer supplemental essays, a proactive social media presence and a ZeeMee profile, you can portray yourself in the best light possible. For further guidance, check out Supplementing the Supplement, available on iBooks.

Nina Berler is the founder of unCommon Apps and the author of Supplementing the Supplement. She has guided numerous students and families through the college process.