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We've had everything ready to go for awhile, but have had to wait for his college calculus professor to turn in his letter of recommendation!! Oct 30 is the last day for early decision at my son's dream college, Case Western. My son has been in to see the professor several times during his office hours, he's written him emails, still, nothing as of tonight, so, we will wait until lunch tomorrow and will need to send in the common app without his LOR. So disappointing, my son is going for Computer Science, a letter from a college calculus class would have helped sooooo much!
I just published my own list of college application "hacks."
Recognizing the common areas of information that schools require is the single best tip for college applications, but is often ignored, so I'm glad you emphasized that on the essay part.
I think recognizing those areas of commonalities doesn't happen often because students often start applications without first gathering all application materials to make an accurate assessment of what information can be transferred between applications. It's working harder, not smarter.