The College Solutions Blog

Valuable insights from Lynn O’Shaughnessy
a nationally recognized college expert.

Common Application
Featured image for “A favorite college essay tip”
June 14, 2015

A favorite college essay tip

I’ve looked at plenty of college essays over the years and the vast majority of them have been b-o-r-i-n-g. The mediocre essays that I’ve seen have usually been guilty of one or more of these no-no’s: 1. They lacked details. 2. They didn’t convey the student’s voice. 3. They covered too much territory. (Writing about something that lasted seconds, minutes...
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July 11, 2014

Top 3 Keys to an Impressive Application

Today I’m running a guest blog post by Jessica Yeager, a grad of Harvard and MIT, who is a tutor and college consultant for high-achieving students and their parents. You can get her four-step workbook: Base Brainstorming Workbook  for free. The college application is one of the most stressful, scary, and overwhelming experiences for most teenagers and their parents. How can...
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November 21, 2013

Video Guides to Completing 2 Popular College Applications

Today I am sharing two excellent how-to videos from a friend of mine, Tamika Lewis, who is an independent college consultant and a counselor in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Tamika put together an excellent tutorial on how to complete the Common Application, which is the document that more than 500 colleges are now using. In October I wrote...
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October 21, 2013

The Common Application Apologizes

The Common Application emailed the lengthy letter below to the counseling community on Friday, which college consultants, high school counselors and anyone with a high school senior might like to see. In the email, the nonprofit apologized for its continuing problems and for being too slow to respond. Let’s hope all the problems are fixed soon! If you missed it,...
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October 16, 2013

Common Application Pandemonium

College blog post update: Since I first wrote the post below, there have been more developments in the continuing Common App fiasco: More schools are extending their Common App deadlines for Early Action and Early Decision. Here are the names of some of them:  Duke, Roanoke, Marist, Boston University, SUNY Geneseo Northwestern, University of Chicago, Columbia, Tufts, Barnard. The Common...
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September 25, 2013

Why You Shouldn’t Be a Stealth College Applicant

Do the schools that your children are interested in attending know that they exist? Or will they be stealth college applicants? As you’ll learn momentarily, stealth applicants can unwittingly hurt their admission chances at some colleges and universities. Growing Stealth Applications The number of teenagers who are applying as stealth applicants has been growing at both public and private colleges...
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August 9, 2013

Seniors Applying to College: You Need a Plan!

Today’s college blog post was written by Alison Cooper Chisolm, who heads the college admissions consulting practice at Ivey College Consulting. Prior to becoming a college consultant, Chisolm worked in admissions for more than 10 years at three selective universities (Southern Methodist University, University of Chicago and Dartmouth College). Chisolm is the co-author of How to Prepare a Standout College...
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June 26, 2013

How To Avoid Essay Hell

I was thrilled recently when I discovered Essay Hell. I believe any teenager, who will have to tackle a college essay, should visit this EXCELLENT website for valuable tips on how to write a killer college essay. Janine Robinson, who is a former newspaper reporter and an essay coach, has stuffed her website with advice on how to write a...
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Featured image for “The Newest Change for the Common Application”
February 8, 2013

The Newest Change for the Common Application

Earlier this week the Common Application organization released its new college essay prompts. For months plenty of people (myself included) worried that the advisory board of 15 counselors in charge of revising the prompts were going to recommend killing off Option 6, which encourages applicants to write creatively. Sure enough, Option 6 that allows applicants to write on the topic...
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December 21, 2012

A Lovely College Essay Example

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that most students dread writing their college essays. I fear that the task will become harder for many students beginning in the next admission season. As I mentioned in a previous post, the nonprofit that overseas the Common Application has announced plans to eliminate what many consider to be the best college...
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