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Common App Recommender + 6 Other Stellar Common App Counselor Resources

In the dynamic landscape of college admissions, the role of independent education consultants (IECs) is increasingly complex, as guiding students toward their academic and professional aspirations becomes increasingly competitive. Tapping into resources provided by globally recognized entities like Common App can significantly enhance a counselor's ability to provide comprehensive support. The Common App, the most-used portal for college applications is more than just a submission software; it offers an array of facilitative tools that streamline the application process. By leveraging Common App's suite of resources, counselors gain access to invaluable tools, insights, and best practices, empowering them to help students to effectively navigate the complexities of the admissions process. 


In this article, we’ll dive into the counselor resources offered by the Common App, highlighting their utility and impact in guiding students towards success. From the Common App Recommender system, to an array of additional resources addressing topics from accessibility to admissions statistics, we examine how counselors can harness these tools to optimize their guidance strategies. 


1. Common App for Recommenders

The Common App for Recommenders is a free tool built into the Common App portal, in which individuals assisting students with their applications can gain access to students’ application materials. Though it may seem to be directed only towards teachers and school counselors submitting letters of recommendation, it is just as relevant for IECs.  


The purpose of this tool may seem unclear — how is this feature better than obtaining a student’s login? Though the system is integrated with students’ accounts, the Common App for Recommenders offers counselor-specific resources that cannot be accessed through a student’s individual account. Rather than asking students to provide you with their Common App password, you’ll have an individual Common App account where you can view and assist with all of your students’ applications in one place.   


The Common App for Recommenders has three main goals — streamlining your counseling process when working with multiple students, displaying students’ progress on each application component, and facilitating administrative tasks. Through this platform, you can easily navigate between students’ portals, with the ability to view their forms, essays, and Activities List. 


In terms of direct student assistance, student account access through The Common App for Recommenders allows you to ensure activities and essays are input correctly, and facilitate guiding students through filling out application forms. You’ll also be able to see which tasks a student has completed and areas where they might be falling behind. It can be difficult to keep track of all application materials, especially as students begin applying to increasingly high numbers of colleges. So, through this platform, you can ensure nothing falls through the cracks and that each of your students is prepared to submit on time.


2. Data & Analytics

As an IEC, you’re tasked with showing expertise and proof of the strength of your recommendations. If you’re wondering how to best back up your advice, admissions data is always a great resource! 


The Common App for Recommenders has an ongoing series of data-driven reports and insights — these statistics show admissions trends and case studies verified by official application organization, helping you to both make effective decisions and show evidence for your reasoning. Current hot topics such as test-optional admissions, transfer applications, trends in student extracurriculars, discussions of race, ethnicity, and applicant diversity are all covered in the data and analytics compiled by the Common App for Recommenders. 


3. First-Generation Student Support

The Common App for Recommenders additionally provides specialized resources for First-generation students. Being the first in their family to attend colleges, first-Generation students are often at a disadvantage in the college admissions process. These resources can help level the playing field for students in need of extra information. As an IEC, engaging with these materials can help you in supporting students who have had fewer opportunities to learn about the college admissions process.


The Common App for Recommenders offers a collection of research and recommendations on supporting First-Gen students, from statistics on how first-generation status impacts college admissions, how different colleges define this status, and methods for supporting and empowering first-generation college students. You can access a summary infographic, statistical report, and briefs on admissions trends via the Common App for Recommenders website.


4. CommonApp Ready

The sheer amount of information to know about college admissions can be overwhelming for students, which can make the job of IECs tricky. While you’ll ideally spend the most time workshopping application materials, ensuring students know each step of the process is key. To ease this part of the process, Common App Ready provides a compilation of resources to help walk students through each step of the Common Application, including core educational materials for students unfamiliar with the Common Application, advice on demonstrating your identity and personality within the application, and navigating financial aid.


Geared specifically to school counselors and IECs, these materials provide relevant and well-organized information for mentoring your students. Based on the topic at hand, you’ll have access to key details of all features of the Common App — and the application process overall — grouped by topic. IECs must be prepared to educate students on a massive array of topics and materials. Having condensed resources for each sub-category of the application process can streamline your educational work with students, allowing you to spend less time on the basics and more time digging into the nuances of essays and resumes. 


Many of these resources can be shared with students as well — each main topic area contains worksheets for students to complete, with goals including preparing to request strong recommendations and compile the requirements of each school they’ll apply to. These worksheets can be strategic assignments for your students to complete between meetings, ensuring you’ll make the most of your time together. 


5. REACH Pathfinder

The Common App for Recommenders describes REACH Pathfinder as a ‘cheat sheet’ for helping students design their ideal school list. As a significant responsibility of IECs is to recommend a strategic list of colleges that meet students’ interests and needs, this resource can lay the foundation for collaborating with your students on this step. 


REACH Pathfinder emerges as a valuable resource designed to aid students in identifying the most suitable educational institutions for their academic journey. This tool not only serves as a step-by-step guide to the school choice and application process for students but also presents a strategic assignment. Students can assume responsibility for discerning their interests, laying the groundwork for collaborative planning alongside counselors. Covering essential dimensions such as Academic fit, Career fit, Financial fit, Personal fit, and Student support services, REACH Pathfinder prompts students to evaluate colleges comprehensively, moving beyond mere prestige or basic academic offerings.


Moreover, the utility of REACH Pathfinder extends to counselors as well, offering a streamlined approach to information gathering. By consolidating key application steps within a single structured document tailored to the construction of a successful college list, this resource significantly alleviates the workload of counselors. Instead of developing a list of step-by-step instructions, you can focus on helping students complete Common App-recommended processes, facilitating more efficient and effective guidance processes.


6. Newsletter & Blog

For ongoing updates and advice on the college admissions landscape, the Common App for Recommenders hosts both a blog and newsletter. Through these resources, you can access new information as soon as it becomes available, stay up-to-date on latest admissions trends, and learn about any changes to the CommonApp that’ll allow you to best support your students. For example, a recent topic covered on the blog include the newly-launched direct admissions process, with 70 Common App-partnered schools assisting first generation and low income students with their college goals. 


7. Bonus Tip: Resources to look out for

Though not yet available online, the Common App for Recommenders has announced two forthcoming initiatives: the Common App for International Applicants and a guide to “How the Application Works.” So, if you’re working with international students or those without a strong foundation in the Common App’s structure, keep an eye out for these resources.



In conclusion, the suite of counselor resources offered by Common App represents a cornerstone in the ever-evolving landscape of college admissions guidance. Through our exploration, we've uncovered the transformative potential of tools like the Common App Recommender and REACH Pathfinder in empowering counselors to navigate the complexities of the admissions process with ease and efficacy. By leveraging these resources, counselors can not only streamline their workflow but also provide students with comprehensive support tailored to their individual needs, aspirations, and circumstances.

As we look towards the future of college admissions counseling, it's evident that harnessing the power of internationally renowned organizations like Common App will continue to be instrumental in shaping the educational journeys of countless students worldwide. 



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Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


Alexej is a graduate of Princeton University, where he studied Linguistics, Cognitive Science, and Humanities & Sciences. Alexej works in college admissions consulting, and is passionate about pursuing research at the intersection of humanities, linguistics, and psychology. He enjoys creative writing, hiking, and playing the piano.


Image Source: CommonApp logo

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