The Common Application

by Eva Shimkus, Features Editor
graphic by Emily Zhang

Will Lavey, previously known as Anthony, committed to Middlebury College, where he will run on the cross country and track and field teams. He said that applying under the Division III process informed his decision as he was able to talk with coaches and get to know schools better. 

“They had Zooms with some of the team, so I was able to get some insights into the teams and what they are like,” he said. “They also sent along virtual tour videos, and they helped give me a lot of information on the school.”

Lavey said that running has helped keep him grounded throughout the admissions process.

“A lot of people play sports in high school to meet new people and get some exercise and be a part of the South community, and I did that at first as well, but as time went on, I really started to enjoy it,” he said. “It means a lot that I’m going to be able to continue doing what makes me happy in college.”

Lavey said that he feels relieved to have finished the application process early and without experiencing rejection.

Though committed to college, Lavey said that he still feels a strong connection to South. 

“I’m definitely a bit sad to leave, and I don’t think it’s fully hit me yet. However, I’m excited for a new chapter,” he said. “I think once summer hits and once graduation comes around, it’ll feel a lot different from right now.”

Amy* was accepted restrictive early action to Harvard University and early action to UMass Amherst. She said that her strong interview with Harvard was most likely what led to her acceptance.

“[My interviewer] was someone who was familiar with my kind of activism, and that shared connection helped a lot,” she said. 

Regardless of her success in early applications, Amy said that the experience was stressful.

“I felt like every day was going by so slowly the week before my results came out,” she said. 

Amy said that financial aid is a main factor in determining which college’s offer to accept.

“My family can afford college, but we don’t have the money that we can afford to go to any college that we want,” she said.

Amy said she plans to apply to Columbia, Stanford and Yale Universities regular decision to expand her options.

Natalie* said she applied to six schools including Pennsylvania State University and the University of Michigan through the Common Application. However, as a theater production major, she must also submit a portfolio application and interview. She said that she has had to adjust her portfolio to the criteria of each school.

“Some schools have a different limit to the files you can submit, so my portfolio consists of 14 files, but some schools have a five file maximum, so it was difficult to tell what to prioritize,” she said. “Some even required a headshot, which made me so unhappy because I’m not applying for acting, so I could not understand the relevance of it.”

Natalie said that, in addition to condensing her portfolio, she wishes she had narrowed down her list of schools before entering the application process.

“Sometimes I feel like I’m wasting time with applications, and I think, ‘Do I actually want to go to this school?’ And, ‘Should I actually send in an application?’ But I send it in because of this doubt in my mind like, ‘What if this is the only school that accepts me?’” she said. “I wish I had prioritized some schools over others.”

Kurt* applied to Emerson College and Northeastern University through non-binding early admissions plans and will hear back in late January and February, respectively. He said he wishes he had managed his time more efficiently when applying.

“For Northeastern, I rushed my essay on how COVID-19 affected me. I just completely forgot to write it,” he said. “I was so caught up in my personal essay that I didn’t even think to do so.” 

Kurt said, however, that he’s proud of his application to Emerson.

“I made it so that there’s a continuity between all of the supplements,the COVID-19 essay and my essay,” he said. “Each one could have stood on its own, but if you read them together in any order, they’ll sound even better.”

In addition to his early applications, Kurt said he is applying to 10-12 other institutions, including Columbia, New York and Syracuse Universities. 

He said his advice to younger students would be to take chances while applying.

“Just do one really reach school that you think you have no chance of getting into because it can’t hurt,” he said. “I’m submitting an application to Harvard just for the fun of it. I know there’s no chance I’ll get in, but why not try?”

*Names changed to protect students’ identities