commonapp

You are not obligated

To tell others where you’re applying.

To tell anyone your SAT score.

To explain your acceptance if others think it’s a “Fluke.”

To show your friends your essays.

To rationalize your rejections.

To have a “first choice”

To like the “best” school over the right school.

To apply to a reach school.

To fill out all 10 activities on the Commonapp.

To finish your applications by August 30th*

To apply to your “legacy” school if you have strong opposition.

To write about anything you don’t want to write about.

You are obligated to make the right choices for you.

*unless you’re a certain blood relative of mine who has a lot of rolling schools.

How to (Maybe) Be Less Poor in College

For all those kids out there who counted “Back-to-School School Supplies Shopping Day” as one of their favorite events of the year, get ready for college: it’s literally a non-stop barrage of picking and planning and choosing new ways in which to style and organize your life. When people come to college, they oftentimes are on their own for the first time and treat it as an opportunity to start anew.  When you come to college, it’s one of the few times in your life when you have the freedom to pick out everything from your bedspread to your “best friend,” and that’s really exciting for a lot of people. 

However, know that this “new start” is way expensive.  Just like the rest of your life, costs and other stupid inconveniences will pop up in places that you never expected.  Forget textbooks, do you know how expensive a nice desk lamp is? Do you know how expensive it is to stock your fridge with fruits and vegetables every week? I swear, you have no idea.  So, below are my suggestions for keeping it cool and keeping YOUR cool in regards to money and college. 

Wean yourself off the fiduciary trust that is your parents

  • I swear to god, I had my parents pay for everything I could get away with up until the second they rolled away from campus and I was truly on my own.  After all, I’m no sucker: if I don’t have to pay for it and they’re willing, then why not?! Those people have “real jobs” and I’m now officially a “starving student.” However, what I never realized in my manipulative money grab was that 1). relying on your parents makes it difficult for you to rely on yourself, and 2). your parents have probably acclimated you to a level of “luxury” that you cannot afford on your own. As a result, I ended up spending WAY too much money and charging WAY too many (stupid) things to my parents credit cards when I first came to NU, just because I didn’t understand how much things actually cost.  While you’re still in high school and still have your parents to act as a little bit of a cushion, do yourself a favor and begin to rely on them less and less.  If you can get used to telling yourself “No” when you want something and can be really cognizant of what you’re spending, you’ll be way better off. 

Begin to view prices like an adult would 

  • And on that note….begin to view prices as if you had to pay for everything.  I know when I was in high school, I used to go to the grocery store and throw whatever I wanted into the cart, because i was fortunate enough to have a mom who could buy it for me.  If I wanted a $30 steak so I could make some unnecessary dish from some weird Buzzfeed recipe I saw on the internet, I would do it because I only understood prices in the context of what I knew my mom would be willing to pay.  Over the next few months, before you leave for college, I recommend you try and challenge this perspective.  If you can begin to recalibrate the way you see prices and think about spending money, it will be way easier for you to budget and shop in a sustainable way later on. 

Get a summer job, no matter how banal

  • I think I may have had one of the worst high school jobs ever right before I came to college: it was corporate, my managers were teenagers, the hours were brutal, it was boring, and the customers were terrible. However, I made money.  That part was great.  I had the freedom to work as much as possible and had a pretty hefty bank account by the end of the summer. It allowed me to go out comfortably and buy what I wanted and needed without relying on my parents (you sensing a theme, here?) and I built up enough of a savings account that I could actually afford to study abroad the following summer! Plus, for some reason, real employers later on like to see those strange summer jobs because it shows a commitment to work and the ability to work as part of a professional team. Who knew?!

Make a list.  Make a ton of lists. 

  • Everyone who has ever seen any American sitcom knows about the “big costs” that come with college: tuition, room and board, textbooks (insert lame joke about paying $150 for a book), etc. However, what people often forget are the obnoxious little things that you can’t live with out.  Do you need to buy new furnishings for you residence hall? Great.  Keep in mind, however, that that doesn’t just include towels and bedspreads: it includes the weird stuff, too, like hangers, a television (which you WILL want), office supplies, basic kitchen necessities, etc. If you can start to think about what you’ll want and need before you get to college, it will help you know how much you will need to save before you arrive.

(Actually) save your money 

  • So, back to that crappy summer job I mentioned.  Although I did earn money and put it in the bank and that’s great for me, I also spent A TON. During the summer before I came to college, I would get my paycheck and would then go and blow $200 on extravagant stuff in Sephora (sorry, I’m a raging narcissist) just because, hey, I had a job and why not? Well, the thing is that having money in the short-term is not equivalent to being prepared for the long-haul.  Remember: college lasts for many years, so maybe skip out on that $400 Coachella outfit (and Coachella tickets all together, now that I think about it) and instead put it in the bank.  Your future, much wiser self will thank you immensely. 

DO NOT think money = coolness

  • This isn’t high school, people. Though I’m sure most of you will treat this as splendid news, know that jamming people’s insta feed with garbage pictures of you in expensive restaurants and buying stuff at the Gucci store in the Pru will impress about no one.  Remember, this is Northeastern: we have Kuwaiti princes and self-made teen millionaires, so there will always be someone who can out spend you.  If the friends you make will only be your friends if you sneak into clubs and spend $500 on bottle service that (is illegal) and you don’t even like, they’re not your friends.  They’re lame posers. Everyone in college is poor no matter what their parents do, so do yourself a favor and only spend what you can afford. Your REAL friends will be happy you did. 

And that’s it.  You’re welcome for having written the longest Tumblr post ever, but I hope it helped.  Now, you wanna cut me a check for all the money I just saved you? I accept nothing less than 5% of all increased investment.

The Summer Check-List

While it’s not quite application season, the school year is winding down (and it’s even over for some).

Juniors, you’re officially rising seniors.

Which means that this scary admissions stuff is finally real.

I’m going to come out with the official 2014 Junior/Senior timelines in a few weeks. But for now… Let’s go into what you seniors-to-be need to be looking into finishing this summer.

1. Make a short-list

You can keep adding schools up until the end of the admissions process, so you don’t need to have your final list ready to go at this point.
However, by the end of the summer, you should have at least 5 schools (1 safety, 1 low match, 2 true matches, 1 extra) on your list that you’re sure you’re going to apply to. Make an effort to tour the ones that are possible to tour, and keep doing research. Start working on these core applications as soon as you can, so you don’t have to worry about them once the year starts.

2. Decide on essays

You have several choices on which commonapp essay you’re going to write. Which can be a bit daunting. You’ll want to have a decent draft done before the school year starts, and the first step of that is deciding which essay you’re even going to write.

I’ll talk about choosing a topic more in the coming weeks, but HERE are the posts I wrote breaking down the 5 essays last year.



3. Schedule interviews and tours

While obviously we don’t all have the resources to tour every school, chances are a few are within a few hours driving distance, making the possibility of a tour very likely.

Figure out days or weekends you (and your parent/guardian) are free to tour, and make an effort to go see at least a few schools.

If you’re the interview type, see if you can squeeze in an interview while you’re there. It’s a great way to express interest, and it can be a plus on your application.

4. Solidify Recs

If you haven’t asked your teachers for recs, stop reading and do it now.

5. Make a commonapp account


August 1st, be ready.

6. “Twitter” Your Resume

The resume on commonapp kind of… sucks. It’s brief, to say the least.

You don’t want to be stressing about it in August, so be prepared in advance. Narrow down your top 10 activities, and “twitter” them. As in, write 140 characters of the highlights of the activity.

If you do it now, it’ll be a breeze by the time the commonapp opens.

7. Talk about finances

This is a rough one, but start talking to your parents about what their expectations for you, financially, are when it comes to college. It’s a really rough conversation to have, but it’s better to know now rather than when you have to turn down your dream school because you just can’t afford it. Check out the calculators for every school, and know that student debt sucks. Know this as far in advance as possible, it’ll help you make a great list.

  • interviewer:yo iggy spit that fire
  • iggy:I understand that once my application has been submitted it may not be altered in any way; I will need to contact the institution directly if I wish to provide additional information.
  • I certify that all information submitted in the admission process -- including this application and any other supporting materials -- is my own work, factually true, and honestly presented, and th

anonymous asked:

Do you have any tips on showing and not telling? And doing so under word count?

First things first, never pay attention to the word count until after you’ve written a draft and edited it once. It’s a lot easier and you’ll eventually become a more concise writer in general.

Second! Showing instead of telling is super duper easy as long as you have an image in your head while you write.
For example, if you don’t have an image, you might write a boring sentence like “She was annoyed at the dog.”
If you actually have a picture in your mind of this person being annoyed, you’ll have a good idea where to start. Describe what you see, not what you, as the author, know.
When someone is annoyed, they do certain things, right? So you can rewrite the sentence as follows- “She rolled her eyes at the dog and stalked off in a huff.” -and convey the same message in a more interesting way. A good general rule here is to look for places where something “was” something else (eg. she was happy, his shoes were brand new, their homework was easy).
In addition to having an image to describe, you’ll want to use specific language to convey the mood. I could easily have substituted “walked away” for “stalked off”, but it wouldn’t have conveyed as strong of an image. When in doubt, use the reverse dictionary (I’ll post a link when I find a decent one) or a thesaurus.

Since this generally does require more words, you’ll probably have to edit quite a few times. Figure out where you can cut down without detracting from the message of the piece and work from there, revising for flow as you go. It takes time. I’m not going to lie and say that it’s easy. It’s not. But if you put the effort in, the results are most definitely worth it.

Don’t be Afraid

It is going to be okay.

Juniors- Your scores are going to be just fine. Even if they’re unexpected, they’ll be fine.
Seniors- All of your decisions will make sense in hindsight. All of this stress will be a memory. It will be a “remember when…?” because future you is looking back on past you. All of your stress, all of your anxiety, and they’re thinking if only they knew what I knew now.


The process will have some unexpected twists and turns. You might dream of schools only to find yourself unqualified for them when you get board scores back.
So you’ll start looking at other schools, schools you didn’t know about before, or ones whose names you’ve heard, but not thought about.

And you’ll start putting together a list.

And there might be some unexpected schools.
Each school leading you on a slightly different life path.

One school will be a change in lifestyle. Another will mean you can continue to be involved in your family’s life. Another will kindle your love of sports, and another a love of music.


One school will force you to take a science class, an English class, a history class, that completely changes your life.

There are a million different paths (or say, 7-10) and you don’t know which one you’ll be taking in a few months.


You’re going to end up where you belong.

You’re going to have wacky traditions. You’re going to take classes full of engaged students who debate openly. You’re going to have crappy 8AM Gen-Ed classes full of varsity athletes who couldn’t care less.

You’re going to have late night talks with people who become your closest friends. You’re going to stay up all night freshman year talking to people you’ll never actually be friends with, but you’ll know things about them and will say hi when you see them.

You’re going to have professors who are there to do research, and you’re going to have professors who are passionate about teaching.

You’re going to whine about dining hall food and splurge on “real” food whenever possible. You’re going to go to a real party, discover what your alcohol limit is, and make friends you won’t remember.

You might decide partying isn’t your thing, so you’ll find other things to do, both sober and drunk.
Or you’ll turn into a social butterfly, bouncing around to parties every weekend.

You’re going to have roommates you love. You’re going to have roommates you’re ambivalent about. You might even have a roommate you hate (and an excellent “roommate from hell” story to tell for years to come).

You might never really do the “dating” thing. You might hook up with a few people. You might hook up with a lot of people. You might date someone for 4 months and then dump them to date the boy you’ve been in love with for almost 6 years (and I’m still sorry about that). 

You’re going to meet people who are mind-bogglingly smart  and you’re going to think “They go here. They’re one of us. They’re my peer”. You’re going to meet people who are staggeringly dumb and think “How do they go here? Why are they one of us? They cannot be my peer”

You’re going to whine about papers, about tests, about reading. You’re going to join too many clubs and overextend yourself.

You’re going to make friends who graduate too soon. You’re going to graduate away from friends you make.

You’re going to have the same experience everywhere, and the school you go to will be perfect for you.

So don’t be afraid.

To those caught up in the college admissions process

Do things because you love them not because it will help you get into college. (This is advice more for myself and friends than directed towards you).

1. the SAT is a four hour test. If you are within the mid 50% range than you’re good. No need to go after the 2400 unless you have time to burn.

2. join the clubs of things you are interested in, and become a leader because you are really good at it not so you can check off a bubble on the commonapp.

3. get to know your teachers well. in fact, get to know ALL your teachers well just for the sake of it. Not for recs.

4. do well in school just for the purpose of education.

yo i realize this is a bit early but if you’re a junior in high school preparing to apply to college (or a senior planning on going to college) please feel free to stop by and ask me for advice! i came from a low-income family and i didn’t really have a lot of experienced help when i was applying, and it sucked pretty hard. but now i’m a trained college advisor and i know lots of tips and tricks, especially for california kids. come message me here (anon is fine) or reblog this for your followers if you like. :)

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Starting Senior Year Right

Congratulations! You’ve survived junior year. You’re top of the food chain (and other clichés). Get ready to be a SENIOR!

You’re excited to finally know where you’ll be going to College, go to prom, and to enjoy that glorious period of senior year where your grades don’t really matter.

The thing is, all of the fun stuff about senior year comes later. Comes with the security of a college decision, and comes with the carefree “I never have to see you again” attitude that will pop up in the later months.

There’s a whole lot of stuff you have to do first before you get to that point.

Here is a nice timeline of everything you should be doing senior year.


A pretty major thing about senior year is that you go in with expectations of a fun, carefree year, and will find your expectations crushed to shreds by the demands of applying to college.

So here are just a few things to keep in mind to start senior year right.

1. Don’t slack first semester
I know I know, “I’ve had senioritis since freshman year” and other jokes about laziness. But be warned, colleges will look down on even a slight dip in grades first semester senior year. If you were previously an A+ student, and you slack a bit and start getting As, colleges will notice.

Your mid-year reports are going to be sent to the schools, and they’re going to be looking for someone who keeps working their fingers to the bone, even the year “grades don’t matter”

Grades do matter. They matter a lot. So take hard classes. Increase your rigor. And really knock those grades out of the park.

2. Remember you still have to be there for a year

Keep reading