August 1 . . . The First Day of The Most Awesome Year!

August 1 – The first day of your most Awesome Year! Get ready to roll up your sleeves and dive in.  These are the words I tell my students every August.

I can’t believe we are 1/2 way through the summer. This past weekend I was supposed to be in Lake George, visiting my kids at their camp visiting day.

I need a moment, if you don’t mind.  This is the first year in 12 years that we did not head to that beautiful oasis my kids call their second home. This is the first year in 12 years I was not anxiously waiting to hug my kids, who I have not seen in over three weeks. The first time in 12 years that I was not running around filling their lists of “wants” and “I just have to have”  or searching for days for just that special treat to remind my kids how much I miss and love them. The first time in 12 years that I didn’t drive home – my head swelling with the growing list of to-do’s that I wanted to get done while the kids were away and realizing that in 3 1/2 short weeks, they would be back in the nest.

If I am feeling nostalgic and a little sad, I can only imagine how my kids feel. But this is not a post of us pining for summers past.  It is about how every mid-July drive home from Lake George, I get geared up for one of my favorite days of the year.

Yes, August 1 is one of my favorites, along with Halloween, Valentine’s Day, the first night of Chanukah, and, yes, Visiting Day.  My husband thinks that I love August 1 because it is the first day of his birth month; REALLY? Nope, sorry honey, that’s not it!

August 1st is the day the Common Application opens. Yes, you read that right. The day the Common Application opens—the true beginning of my busy, yet favorite, season. The spring and beginning of summer were just pre-season, but from August through October, we are full in. Working with my students, we have practiced, rehearsed, and trained for this moment. I am ready. They are ready.

On August 1st, reality sets in for seniors as they open up the Common Application and put in their first school – “Wow, I am a senior, and this is really happening! “ 

At this point, I witness a range of emotions:  

1) I get tears of excitement

2) I get an over-anxious kid who wants to get it all done right away 

3) I get the “Thanks for everything, I’ve got this now” attitude

4) I get the “Wait, you wanted me to set up my account?” Or “I did, but I can’t remember my password” remarks, and of course,

 5) I get the “deer eyes in headlights” stare – where the heck do I begin?

Like any good coach, I remind them that all the training they did these past few months, all the free writes, the worksheets, the scavenger hunts, and practice ad-hoc interviews will make this easier. 

That all the prep work they spent their time on was time well spent.  

To help your senior prepare for August 1 and the opening of the Common Application, I have six steps to follow:

1) Have them gather their information now – if you and or your partner/spouse attended college, make sure they know where and when, and what degree(s) you hold.

2) Have a copy of their most recent transcript and a list of their senior year courses. Some schools want you to load up your grades either in the Common Application or through a self-reported academic record SRAR/SSAR.

3) Make sure they know to which schools they may apply test-optional, to which schools they can self-report their scores, and to which schools they need to send their test scores directly from the College Board or ACT. (Note that it may take five to ten business days to be sent from the testing agencies to the school, so don’t delay in sending them.)

4) Make sure they know their deadlines and have a system to keep track of them. For instance, some schools have a regular decision deadline of January 1st; but there might be a “priority deadline” for scholarships there that is much earlier. 

5) Have them complete an “activities worksheet” before opening the Common Application. We’ve got one for you in our Rising Senior Summer Checklist Free Download! Click here to get your copy!

6) Make sure they create their Common App account using their personal (not school) email address that they will check daily! Colleges often email students important time-sensitive updates about their applications. Make sure they use a password they don’t forget!  Hint: if you use a Gmail account, make sure they check their promotions/spam filters as well.

As summer comes to a close, and I am missing our Lake George traditions, the excitement of July 31st remains as my students (and, this year, my son) embark on their journey toward becoming their awesome best selves.

As you and your family navigate through the college application process, make sure to follow us at and  Only 650 Words. We’re here to help and will be sharing valuable tips and strategies to help you and your teen make informed decisions.

Remember, this is an exciting time. Embrace the journey, stay united as a family, and celebrate each milestone along the way. We can’t wait to witness your child’s Awesome Year!

Until then, stay positive, stay informed, and stay excited!

Grab the Official Guide to Talking About College with Your Teenager

This guide is full of tips and the approach I believe we ALL need when it comes to talking about college as a family. Trust me, when I say I know because I’ve been right where you are, it comes straight from my experiences!