College and Career Planning Resources
The Common Application
The Common Application is an online college application used by over 500 colleges (mostly secular schools). The advantage of the Common Application is that you can enter your basic information and stats into a single application which is accessible to all member colleges you select.
Colleges That Accept the Common Application
To see which colleges are participating this year, check CollegeData’s Common Application Colleges at a Glance. You can also view application deadlines, fees, and supplemental form requirements. You can also check on each college’s website or check on Naviance to see if the colleges you are interested in use the Common Application. A new version of the Common Application is available every August 1.
Currently, Grove City College, Wheaton College, Taylor University, Cedarville University, Houghton College, Geneva College, Messiah College, Liberty University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, and Huntington University DO NOT accept the common application; refer to each of these college’s website for their online application.
Linking the Common Application and Naviance/Family Connection
If you are applying to a college that uses the Common Application, you must link your Naviance account to your CommonApp account, and you must sign the FERPA waiver.
- Click on the Colleges Tab on the home screen.
- Click on the Colleges tab at the top.
- Click on Colleges I’m Applying To.
- Check the box that waives your right to see any of your recommendations.
- Check the box to authorize us to release your information and talk to college officials on your behalf.
- Type in your Common Application username and password (this should have already been created at www.commonapp.org.
- Click submit.
The Common Application Essay
The Common Application requires an essay of 650 words or less. You must choose one of five broad topics designed to help demonstrate your ability to write clearly and grow from your personal experiences. It’s a good idea to start your essay as soon as possible so you have plenty of time to get feedback and make revisions.
Most colleges using the Common Application will ask you to answer additional questions and write an additional essay. All colleges will ask for at least one recommendation letter and information from your high school. The Common Application supplies grade report and evaluation forms. Counselors and teachers complete these forms only once and send copies to the schools you apply to. Colleges may also require additional materials such as resumes. These requests will be included in the Common Application for that school.
How to Access the Common Application
Go to commonapp.org, or link to the application from the website of a school that accepts it. Using the Common Application is free, but you are still required to pay the college’s application fees. You must complete and submit the application online. There is no paper application.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the form used by the U.S. Department of Education to determine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) by conducting a “need analysis” based on financial information, such as income, assets and other household information, which you (and your parents if you are a dependent student) will be asked to provide. The form is submitted to, and processed by, a federal processor contracted by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), and the results are electronically transmitted to the financial aid offices of the schools that you list on your application.
The U.S. Department of Education accepts applications beginning October 1 of each year for the upcoming academic year. File as early as possible, or at least before your college and state grant agencies’ financial aid deadlines or preferred filing dates. Most student financial aid is limited (there isn’t always enough for everyone who applies) and awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.
The online version of the form is available at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.
The Parent/Guardian Transcript Release form serves as permission for Plumstead Christian School to release all information necessary to process college or scholarship applications.
PCS utilizes a comprehensive website called Naviance designed to help students and parents make informed decisions on college and career options. Since it is internet-based, students can easily access this program at any time and are encouraged to use it during the entire college research and application process.
Some of the features of Naviance for college:
Supermatch College Search – students can get matched from over 20 search criteria that will help them find colleges that are the right fit for them.
Scholarship Opportunities – students can search for local and national scholarships that match their field of interest, major of study, location, gender, ethnicity, or grades, and more.
Career Exploration – The career planning and assessment tools in Naviance allow students to realize their strengths, goals, skills, knowledge, values, constraints, and interests in future careers, to help them make better academic decisions.
Transcripts – students use Naviance to notify the school counselor to send transcripts to the colleges to which they are applying. Students can also track the status of these requests.
Teacher Recommendations – students use Naviance to select and request teacher recommendations as part of the college admissions process.
*Note: Students do not apply to colleges through Naviance.
Students submit admission applications through each individual school’s website directly or through the Common Application (www.commonapp.org). Generally speaking, most Christian colleges request applications through their websites; most secular colleges request applications through the Common App.
Log on to NavianceFamilyConnection: www.connection.naviance.com/plumstead
Contact Bob Brennan at PCS if you need logon credentials or have any questions about Naviance.