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Applications all have similar requirements, and it is perfectly permissible to use the same materials for different schools. In fact, the Common Application is used by more than 130 private colleges, from Dartmouth to Harvard. The form is available from high school guidance counselors. But your child should order application packets even if he is using the Common Application form, because some schools require additional information. Your child can apply online to hundreds of schools with our Next Stop College service, available in Student Tools.
Some schools allow students to apply early. Such early decision or early action programs often inform students of admission in the first part of senior year. This can reduce the stress of waiting, but there's a catch: Early-decision plans require the student to attend that college if accepted with an adequate financial package. This option can be ideal for students who are sure of the school they want to attend, but it doesn't work for those who want to compare their options. Help your child do careful research on all the details if he goes this route.
George Mason admissions dean Andrew Flagel says perhaps the most important advice for parents is to avoid putting too much emphasis on the process. "The less stress a student can having during the application process, the more they will get out of junior and senior years — a crucial time — and the better they will do on standardized tests. When the application process becomes more important than the education they are receiving, there is a problem," he says.
At last, the envelopes will all be sealed and ready to mail. You might want to help your child send the packets certified mail, so she gets confirmation and a record that they were delivered on time. You and your child can celebrate this accomplishment; it's one more step on the road to independence and adulthood.
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