Published in the August 13, 2015 edition

NORTH READING — Boot camps come in all shapes and sizes, but it’s hard to think of a boot camp that’s so popular that 60 high school students would give up two days in the rapidly shrinking remainder of summer for a “boot camp” course at the high school.

Welcome to the Common Application boot camp that took place at North Reading High School over two days this week, starting on Tuesday and concluding today, (Thursday).

NRHS Principal AJ Loprete said the program, new this year, came out of the suggestions from the student senate recognizing there  was a lot of interest in offering students help in navigating the common application process. This assistance has been offered through the school’s standard guidance program when students meet with their guidance counselors throughout the year, Loprete said. But the idea behind a boot camp was for something a little bit more comprehensive, so Director of Guidance Mike Rosa worked with the students to get an idea what they were looking for.

The seminar was put together after Rosa met with Loprete and senior Matthew Stead, who graduated in June and some other students to decide how the seminar should be structured. The seminar, which students paid $40 for, takes the students through the process of navigating the common application web site, how to prepare their “Common App” on line and to familiarize them with the whole interface, Loprete said. There will also be time for them to work with an English teacher on their college application essay.

“This is a nice opportunity in mid to late summer for kids to put some time in maximizing their investment in the Common App so they get a better product when they roll that out,” Loprete said. Registration for the boot camp was all online and provided the students with a survey opportunity to decide what topics might be of interest to them.

For instance in Tuesday’s four hour session, the first two hours were devoted to step–by–step completion of the Common App. Then the students broke into groups to work on their essay with an English teacher. Then there will be mini–sessions on completing recommendation forms, researching college requirements, an in depth look at the senior year time line.

When the students return on Thursday, it will be for a two hour session on strategizing the college interview process and basics about the Naviance program. “This is the first time we’ve run the program and it’s well attended,” Loprete said.

For those who haven’t applied to college in the last decade or so, the Common App is an online undergraduate college application accepted by 517 independent colleges nationwide as well as six foreign countries designed to make the college admissions process easier and more streamlined. The Naviance Program is a “college and career readiness software provider” that partners with high schools to provide students with college planning and career assessment tools and track their personal growth.

NRHS faculty members involved in the boot camp – let’s not call them drill instructors – are Rosa, guidance counselors Ann Tiberii, John Guiliotti, Ashley Bolognesi and English teacher Laura Hargrove.

It’s not your father’s college application process anymore, and schools have to adapt and change to help their students succeed, said Loprete. That’s what the Common App bootcamp is all about.