A Personal Narrative on College Applications… and Useful Information!


Erin Hong and Junhyoung (Edward) Kim

College application season is officially at its peak, and most Tenafly High School seniors are handing in their Early Decision and Action applications this November.

As one of those seniors, I can say that October might be the most stressful month of my life. 

Everything that I’ve done in high school is culminating to this moment: handing in college applications. My GPA, my SAT scores, and my extracurriculars will all factor into this enormous decision in my life. Ever since beginning my high school career, college is what I’ve had in mind. It’s all starting now: it’s time to officially demonstrate my achievements to the colleges I want to apply to. 

Being a senior right now is certainly an interesting situation. The sensitivity and tension around students filling out their college applications is nearly palpable, and the stress imposed on seniors is immense. Because we are given countless assessments, projects, and homework in the upcoming weeks of the application deadline, we must divide up the time we spend on the Common App as best as possible. 

I work on my applications and supplemental essays during lunch, during my IDTs, and after I finish my homework. Various schools require these supplemental essays, which may vary in length and in quantity. One school I am applying to doesn’t have supplemental essays at all, while another has four. These supplemental essays take more time than one might think, so I would advise underclassmen to get started as soon as possible once they reach senior year. 

Although the supplemental essays are crucial, the main Common Application essay is of peak importance. This main essay is the place where you will be able to show colleges the non-academic part of you: your hobbies, your background, and your passions. It’s important to craft this essay very carefully.

As of right now, the majority of the schools’ early decision applications are due on November 1st as well as some other early action applications due on the same date. If you are a senior handing in your application pretty soon, make sure to check the institution’s website and try not to submit it last minute because unexpected errors may occur. 

That being said, there are multiple factors and steps into applying to college. 

The two main websites that Tenafly High School seniors will use are Naviance and the Common App; the two are interconnected.

Naviance is where teachers will hand in their recommendation letters, and the Common Application is where the students will hand in their applications. 


Common Application

As the biggest platform for college applications in the United States, the Common Application mainly has sections for the common application and the supplemental application. New changes to the platform for this school year were recently introduced. 

  1. The removal of the school discipline question
  2. The removal of the military discharge question
  3. Revisions to the citizenship, family, and geography questions
  4. Revisions to the sex/gender questions
  5. The removal of the religious preference question

According to the CEO of the Common Application, these revisions allow for “students to feel supported by Common App regardless of where they are on their path to education attainment.” The organization is also working to reduce barriers for racial minorities and low-income individuals. 

In addition, a new prompt has been added for the school year. It goes as follows: “Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?” 

The prompt was designed so that students could focus on gratitude and happiness that occurred for them. 



Unlike the common application, there weren’t many changes made to Naviance. However, teachers found that there have many errors occurring while they were submitting their letters of recommendation. This, for students, has also been problematic. I personally did not encounter any errors, but it is still important to watch out for any potential problems that students may encounter in this process and report them to their guidance counselors. 

If you are an underclassman reading this article, Naviance is extremely helpful in the way that it can help with not only your college choices, but also your career choices. Here are some helpful tips about Naviance:

  1. You can input your SAT/ACT scores and GPA to see what range of colleges are right for you.
  2. If you do not know your GPA, you can find it by clicking on your profile. 
  3. You can use that information and see where you fall when looking at past year’s admittance history for certain colleges.
  4. You receive updates about upcoming college events and visits. 


Early Application Dates Chart

Common App Revisions