A Look Into the Final Minutes of Common App Hysteria

Please excuse the interruption of your daily scheduled programming for this public service announcement.

I just did the absolutely unthinkable for a college-bound high school senior, finishing 4 college applications in just ONE day, with one being in under 20 minutes! For the record, these four schools were the following: Carnegie Mellon, Columbia, Tufts, and Williams. My plan was to finish approximately 10 schools out of the 17 I’m applying to (Yeah, you read that correctly, 17) over the entirety of my winter break, which started on December 24th and ended January 1st. My plan was going well in the beginning as I finished my applications to Brown, Cornell, UPenn, Duke, etc. but after December 26th, I began to get sluggish. There were a couple of days where I didn’t even open the Common App, which I instantly regretted the morning of January 1st – after a hard night of sparkling apple cider and margarita mix shots #drinkresponsibly.

Thus arriving at the last resort, 12 hour, desperation essay plan. The original plan outlined a day solely working on applications for Columbia and Carnegie Mellon, initially ditching Williams and Tufts. As per usual, I started off great, researching unique things about Columbia and outlining the essays before I tried my hand at crafting them into written masterpieces, but I was soon distracted by other ventures, quickly derailing from the 12 hour plan as I was attempting to figure out the DNS settings of this website and whatnot. Fast forward to 4 pm and I have nothing done for Columbia and nothing done for Carnegie Mellon. I decided to switch my efforts towards Carnegie Mellon since they only asked for two essays as opposed to Columbia’s 6 (or what felt like 15). I surprisingly hammered out Carnegie Mellon by 5:15 and was in such a rush that I was able to finish Columbia by 8 (with many snack breaks in between). By 8:30, I was bouncing around the house, still burning off the adrenaline rush from completing both applications in less than 4 hours.

But the night was far from over.

If there’s anything that bugs me about the Common App, it’s the little yellow circles that accompany incomplete applications. Wanting to minimize the ugly look of my dashboard, I somehow thought it would be a wise idea to just hammer out the Williams application. Mind you it is now 11:03, I’m off my adrenaline rush and was supposed to be getting my stuff together for school the next day. My trick to completing most of my essays was borrowing bits and pieces from old essays and making them fit the prompts, but Williams had to be different. I had to pick someone who I’d want to be the other student in a Williams’ “tutorial-style” class (see their application, I don’t have the energy to explain). I ended up choosing Steve Bannon of Breitbart News and spat out some cheesy essay about how we should approach argumentation differently than the media’s yelling and screaming at our opponents who happen to hold views that are polar opposites of our own to have some chance at correcting the pervasive issue of divisiveness in this country (I’ll let you all know how that goes, but I can surely say I’m expecting a big fat rejection from Williams… UPDATE 7/20/17: I got in through “likely letter” so yeah… I guess that crap worked). I managed to finish that essay in all of 9 minutes and was promptly beset with another adrenaline rush that could only be contained by – you guessed it – ANOTHER college application!

The time is now 11: 39. I open the Tufts writing supplement and skim through the essay prompts. I’ve done zero research on Tufts at this point, but I was on a mission. In my five minutes of research, I was able to write a pretty specific “Why Tufts” essay in 100 words that definitely had hints of generic sentiments I had in my “Why Brown” essay, but we’re not going for gold here. All of 7 minutes, time is now 11: 46. The next essay was about community in which I promptly copied and pasted my Duke essay about community. All of 2 minutes, time is now 11: 48. With the final essay, about why I liked my interests and how they contributed to my intellectual curiosity, I used an ultimate amalgamation of all of my different essays expressing my enthusiasm for the classics and how I fell in love with computational biology and how I make intellectual connections, blah, blah, blah. Luckily I was able to pull through with a completed and proofread essay by 11:56, but there was still one final challenge. Now, I didn’t even want to apply to Tufts in the first place, but after my Princeton deferral, I felt as if I needed to apply everywhere that even had computational biology as a search result on their website, yet here I was anxiously trying to submit in the midst of the final minute sluggishness of the Common App website. I managed to submit the writing supplement at exactly 11:58 pm, and just like that, my application was done. I’m still on an adrenaline high from that experience, which admittedly gave me enough energy to even consider writing this.

If this experience teaches anyone anything… it would be to do your college applications in the summer and finish them as early as possible because this was definitely not healthy.

 

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