Degree seekers may feel stressed and strained when applying to colleges and universities. Prospective students may find it challenging to seek for and select institutions, gather application information, and adhere to various deadlines. The Common Application, fortunately, makes this procedure easier.
What Is the Common Application, and How Does It Work?
The Common Application fills in sections of college applications for prospective students, making it easier for them to apply to a variety of colleges.
The application invites students to give the most commonly requested information, post their application essays, and submit resources such as transcripts and letters of recommendation. It is available to both first-year and transfer students. This data is then shared with a number of schools, saving students time and effort.
This tool allows prospective students to apply to online institutions, apply for transfer credit, and obtain useful insights and recommendations for schools and programs.
The Common Application is used by over 900 schools and universities, making it one of the most widely used platforms of its kind.
Some states and schools, however, have their own systems, so students should check to see if the Common App is used by their prospective schools. The same rubric is used by participating schools to evaluate Common Application users and independent applicants.
When Can I Begin Working on My Common Application for College?
Every year on Aug. 1, a new edition of the Common App is released. Due to the wide range of college application dates, students should keep track of when they must submit their materials.
Students pursuing early action or early decision, for example, may need to submit an application in November or December, when the standard decision deadline for many schools is more likely to be Jan. 1. Prospective students should use these ranges as a guideline and confirm deadlines with particular universities.
This year’s changes to the Common App include: removing questions about high school student discipline and military discharge status; adding more citizenship status options for international and undocumented students; removing or making optional certain questions about geography and family; adding a question about students’ preferred first names; and expanding options for geography.
Students do not have to wait until Aug. 1 to begin the Common Application. They can create an account at any time and transfer their data to the new app once it is available.
How to Complete the Common Application?
Here are the procedures for students to use the platform to work on an application.
- To learn how to create an account and log in, go to commonapp.org and click the “Start your application” button.
- Students can also use the Common App’s mobile app to stay on top of deadlines, invite recommenders, and set reminders.
- Select whether you want to be a first-year student or a transfer student.
- Add information about the user, such as their name, email, phone number, address, date of birth, and enrollment year.
- Fill out the user profile with information about your schooling, extracurricular activities, demographics, household, and more.
- Add collaborators who can provide letters of recommendation or other supporting documentation, such as teachers, counselors, and others.
- Add schools to “My Colleges” by searching for them.
- Learn about the application standards for each college and adhere to them when applying.
Experts say that the summer before senior year of high school is an excellent time for students to begin working on their applications.
Is the Common App Free?
Even if you use the Common App to apply to a school, some individual schools charge an application fee, even if you use the Common App to do so. The average application fee in 2020, according to U.S. News & World Report, was $44.
Fee waiver forms can be requested in the profile portion of the application by prospective students who can demonstrate financial necessity.
To be eligible, a guidance counselor must complete the form, indicating that the applicant fits all of the requirements. Candidates who do not meet the initial requirements can ask a counselor or financial aid officer for a supporting statement.
Do I Have to Use the Common App to Apply to College?
The Common App is not required of students. While it is well-known, it is not the only option for college applications.
Many schools have websites where students can apply online. Students can use or must use application systems in some states to apply to institutions. For example, Texas has a statewide system for submitting applications, though some Texas schools also accept the Common App.
Some well-known private institutions, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., only accept applications through their school websites. Many prestigious colleges and universities, including Harvard and Amherst College, accept Common App applications.
Some schools also accept the Coalition Application and the Common Black College Application, which serve historically Black colleges and universities. The Common App is used by many schools that use those platforms.