Make it Loud: Petition to add FIRST on the Common Application

So, long story short, almost a million high school seniors use the Common Application to over 500 prestigious colleges and universities who emphasize holistic evaluation of students. As I was going through this process in the fall, it came to my attention that FIRST Robotics (or even Robotics in general) is not included as an extracurricular option.

This is a link to a petition on started by another senior on Team 33. It’s an open letter to facilitators of the Common Application. Because this isn’t a media inquiry there is no direct contact available for this kind of request. Once the petition receives enough signatures, though, will help close those gaps.

Thank you for your consideration! Please sign at:

Include why FIRST is important to you and be sure to share with your team…help us make FIRST loud!

I was disappointed that there was no option for FIRST Robotics - or even Robotics more generally - on the Common Application. Nothing that remotely does FIRST justice. I would definitely like to see this happen.

Signed! I’d love to see this on the common app, given that I had to file FIRST under science and technology, which is not really where it belongs. There are so many other components to it.

Lets learn a new skill today. It’s called the Executive Email Carpet Bomb (EECB). You use it on large (and sometimes small) organizations that you are having a problem with or want to change.

The way it works is:
Figure out who is in charge. In our sample case today, we go to the site and click on About Us and we get a link for the Common App Board of Directors

All of the directors and where they work is presented. Lets pick the first name
Vice President for Admission & Financial Aid
Harvey Mudd College

Now we track Ms Briggs down. Google is my friend, it can be your friend too. So Let me Google that for you

And we get back as the first choice Thyra Briggs Bio from her job at Harvey Mudd.

Perfect, a phone number and an email. (Bonus, a picture, she looks happy and eager to help!)

Next is the hard step:
Write a nice, polite, concise letter of your problem and a proposed solution. You want it to be short since Miss Briggs is going to read it and she is a busy person. You want to keep her focus. You want to be nice and polite since her finger is hovering over the delete key. The solution should be easy and something that the underling she is about to forward your email to can do.

[Edited to add: I read Ellen’s petition, it’s got all the facts, but it’s too long for the people that you want to get to do something. But it’s a great place to start with your letter, it has lots of facts (71,000 roboteers, etc.) that you can use. ]

Proof read, check for grammar, spelling errors, etc. Twice. You want to appear like a smart person asking for a reasonable request.

Send the email off.

Repeat for each person that you found on the page. Bonus points if you customize the letter, but having it the same will be fine.

Do not put all the people on one massive To: list. You want them to think you wrote to them. If they see lots of people, they will say “umm, someone else will deal with this”.

Wait for results.

You have gone to the top. You’ve presented your case. Because you and 100’s of other FIRST Roboteers have written, they know this is a real issue and they will react. A petition from some radical outside organization ( in your case) won’t have any weight.

I’ve used this to resolve a number of problems.

Good luck on your new project!

Good for you Ellen! …way to take initiative

I found it very weird that it seemed like FRC was a very banal thing for a high school kid to do–it wasn’t at all weird and they’d heard about it a million times before–but on the other hand, there didn’t seem to be any official recognition for FRC. It’s like it’s expected that anyone interested in engineering has done it (and if they have, it’s nothing special) but they’re surprised that you’d want to put it on an application.

Thanks for putting this together. This is a great idea, I just hope the Common App gets their act together for once and makes this right.

I think this is an important item, I think it would be very good if FIRST was on the Common application form. Redengin33r posted this and since then the petition has not grown. I’m going to guess because the post got buried in Build Season CD traffic.

But now that Build is over and you have a few momements, take a look at the first post and decide if you want to join the petition. Or if you read athe thread, farther along is a post that I wrote on how to write to the Common Form team directly. In either case, it’s a worthwhile cause.

It may not help you directly, but it will help all the roboteers that follow you.


This is something that is very important. I hope to see FIRST recognized on the Common App in the near future.

Signed! It’s been a while since I was applying to colleges, but it would have been awesome to have FIRST as part of the common app. I hope others sign this petition too!