Applying to College with the Common Application

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Applying to College with the Common Application

Common Application

Applying to a handful of colleges feels like repetitive work, especially since each school calls for identical applicant information, high school transcripts, and other supplemental materials. Luckily, the Common App can help students save time by streamlining the process.

Originally started in 1975, more than 1 million students now rely on the Common App for college admissions. Despite its popularity, the Common App may still confuse families unfamiliar with the college application process. If you plan on applying to your top schools using the Common App, then you came to the right place. The guide below can help ease students and parents through the application.

What is the Common Application?

Often referred to as the Common App, the Common Application describes an online platform used by hundreds of schools across the country to receive and evaluate student applications. Intended for first-year students, transfer students, and students who may be returning to school after a long hiatus, the Common App lets students apply to multiple colleges (up to 20) through one application.

More importantly, the Common App is a centralized space where you can upload your common app essays, your demographic information, and store essential application materials or files. Further, the platform provides college-bound students with application guides and checklists to plan, apply and pay for degree programs. While there are no extra charges to apply to college using the Common Application, some schools charge ancillary application fees.

What Schools use the Common Application?

During its creation over 40 years ago, the Common App was originally comprised of 15 members. Since then, membership in the Common App’s association grew rapidly. Today, nearly 900 schools nationally – as well as in 20 foreign countries – allow students to apply through the Common App. In addition to eight Ivy League schools, other notable institutions using the Common App include:

  • Boston University
  • Stanford University
  • Arizona State University
  • Villanova University
  • Northeastern University
  • University of Connecticut
  • Northwestern University
  • Fordham University

Still not sure if your dream school uses the Common App? Simply visit the official Common App website and use the EXPLORE feature to discover more schools.

Does the Common Application have an Essay?

The Common App essay evaluates a student’s aptitude for communicating clearly and concisely on a selected topic while distinguishing a unique voice. The Common App conveniently lists all the essay prompts on its website. While the essay prompts change every year, each topic focuses on the student. Not every topic needs to be a serious narrative, but rather showcase the student’s talent and point of view. Nonetheless, you should still consider whether your chosen topic has any intellectual or academic depth.

To ensure a thought-provoking statement, students must present an anecdote that helps readers better understand the writer’s thoughts. Admission officers want to see young learners who made a transition that demonstrates maturity, depth of thought, or a newfound ability to see the world in a new light.

How to Complete the Common Application

Believe it or not, resolving your Common App is a relatively straightforward process. Follow the steps below to guarantee admission officers receive your application before the deadline.

STEP 1: Create a Common App account. You will need to provide personal information, such as name, date of birth, address, phone number, and email address.

STEP 2: Add schools that accept the Common Application to your list. You can speed up the process with the “College Search” function by filtering your results based on name, region, state, and application deadline.

STEP 3: Review admission information for your top schools: You can look at the “Requirements Grid” to see specific requirements each school sets forth

STEP 4: Gather the information you know you’ll need. This includes:

  • Your High School Course List
  • High School Transcripts
  • Test Scores (ACT/SAT)
  • A list of Extracurricular Activities
  • Parent/Legal Guardian’s information

STEP 5: Complete each section on the Common App. You will be required to complete the following sections before finalizing your application:

  • Profile
  • Family
  • Education
  • Testing
  • Activities
  • Writing
  • Courses and Grades
  • Essay

STEP 6: Review and submit your application by the due date.

Final Thoughts on the Common App

College admissions can seem overwhelming, but the Common App is an excellent resource for both domestic and international students. The free tool helps simplify the college admissions process to 900+ colleges around the world while storing important documents in one centralized location. Need help finishing your Common App? For more tips and news related to all college admissions, make sure to subscribe to our blog.