As of today, 805 colleges accept applications through the Common Application (Common App). The Common App is a single online college application that allows you to enter your general information once to be sent out to multiple schools of your choosing. It also allows you to keep track of application documents and important deadlines all under one roof.
From a user experience perspective, it’s a pretty intuitive platform, however, there are some common areas of confusion for students:
Do I have to use the Common App to apply to my colleges of choice?
You are not required to use the Common App to apply. Many colleges allow the option of applying through their website. And few make it compulsory to apply directly through their website. However, chances are, you’ll be applying to multiple schools that will accept the Common App, which makes using it far more efficient.
Will using the Common App give me an advantage or disadvantage in any way?
Colleges will not take which platform you applied to into consideration. So no, that won’t affect your chances of getting into your college of choice.
When does the Common App open?
It goes live every year on the 1st of August.
When should I start working on my Common App?
Even though it only goes live on the 1st of August, you can create an account anytime to get a head-start on the application. You can transfer your information into the new app when it goes live.
The summer before your senior year is a good time to start digging into the Common App. It gives you the opportunity to know ahead of time everything that you’ll need to get done.
How long does it typically take to fill out an application?
It really depends based on your schools’ requirements, but the very minimum you should give yourself to complete an application is six weeks. Anything less than that is truly cutting it close and will compromise the quality of your application.
When does the Common App close?
Deadlines vary by school, so be sure to check dates for every individual school you are applying to. However, typically, early decision deadlines tend to be on or close to November 1, and regular decision on or close to January 1.
Do I only need to write one essay for all the colleges I’m applying to?
It depends. Some schools will only require the Common App essay, however, highly selective colleges will require or highly recommend supplemental essays specific to the college. General rule of thumb, savvy applicants should view all highly recommended material as required.
What does the process look like from start to finish?
- Create a Common App account: Go to org and create an account. The email account you use here will the one colleges you apply to use to contact you if need be. Best practice here would be to keep it professional to help with the impression you make
- Verify that the colleges you’re applying to accept the Common App: And if they don’t, look into how you should be applying to said schools.
- Look at the application as a whole: Before diving in, take a quick run-through of the entire application for all the colleges you’ll be applying to. Identify which areas you’ll like need to spend more time on and which areas you might hit road bumps so you can plan ahead for them.
- Review the admission material needed for each school: While the purpose of the Common App is to streamline the application process, each college will likely have their own specific requirements. For instance, some colleges may require SAT scores, while some may be test optional.
- List down all the material you’ll need: Once you’ve identified each college’s specific requirements, list them out. Know everything you’ll need ahead of time so you’re not scrambling at the last minute getting materials together.
- Get to work: You don’t have to go at it in the order at which it appears on the Common App. You always have the option of going back to make revisions to your answers as many times as you want. Prioritize accordingly based on importance and what you anticipate needing more time on.
- Track the status: The Application Dashboard will show you the status of each component of your application within each college. The color-coded icons on your Dashboard will give you visibility into where each task currently stands.
- REVIEW: After you’ve filled everything out, take the time to review your application from start to finish. Don’t rush through this review process. Look through every section thoroughly to make sure it’s the best it can be.
- Hit Submit: You’ll need to submit your application by 11.59PM (in your local time zone) of the deadline. But of course, don’t leave it to the absolute last minute – anything can go wrong, from a bad internet connection to detecting a last-minute error in your application.
Can I edit my list of schools?
You can add and remove schools at any time during the application process. To remove a school, simply navigate to the Dashboard and click on the garbage can icon across from the name of the school. To add a school, go to the College Search function, look up the school, click on its profile, and click the ‘Add’ button.
What are the most critical areas to get ahead of?
Get ahead of your letter of recommendation(s). Don’t go to a counsellor and expect them to churn out an impressive letter of recommendation for you in three days. You can ask as early as late spring or early summer of your junior year so you’re not competing for the attention of your counsellor during the fall when seniors inundate them with requests.
On top of that, start your essay as early as possible. You’ll find that even choosing a topic can be a process in itself. Allow yourself time to think it through and for it to go through multiple rounds of revisions – because it will.
I’ve submitted my application, now what?
Expect a submission confirmation within 24 hours. Once you hit ‘Submit’ and see the green check on the Dashboard, the school will have access to your application and is able to view.
You may be dreading or procrastinating getting started on the Common App. Understand that it was designed to make applicants’ lives easier, not harder. It’s not as complex of a process as you may think. With that being said, a quality application takes time. Set yourself up for success by giving yourself sufficient time. If you still have doubts or need assistance in the college application process, our seasoned counsellors are here to help. Reach out today for a free consultation for clarity on the admissions process.