The Common Application is a widely used platform that simplifies the college application process for millions of students each year. If you’re a high school student planning to pursue higher education, this guide will provide you with a comprehensive overview of the Common Application, its features, and tips to make the most out of this powerful tool.
1. What is the Common Application?
The Common Application, also known as the Common App, is an online college application platform that allows students to apply to multiple colleges and universities using a single application. Currently, over 900 institutions, including prestigious universities like Harvard, Yale, and Stanford, accept the Common App.
2. Getting started with the Common App
To get started with the Common App, you need to create an account on their official website. The process is simple and requires basic personal information. After creating an account, you can explore the platform’s features and start filling out your application.
3. Key components of the Common App
The Common App consists of several sections that gather information about your personal background, academic achievements, extracurricular activities, essays, recommendations, and more. Each section plays a crucial role in presenting yourself as a well-rounded candidate to colleges and universities.
4. Personal Information section
The Personal Information section collects general information about you, such as your name, address, contact details, date of birth, citizenship, and more. Make sure to provide accurate information in this section to avoid any communication issues with colleges.
5. Academic and Testing Information section
In this section, you will provide details about your current and past schools, academic performance, honors, awards, and standardized test scores. Take your time to accurately fill out this section, as it helps colleges evaluate your academic background.
6. Extracurricular Activities section
The Extracurricular Activities section allows you to highlight your involvement in various clubs, sports, community service, and other activities outside the classroom. Include descriptions and leadership positions to demonstrate your commitment and impact.
7. Writing section
The Writing section is a crucial part of the Common App as it includes your personal statement, also known as the college essay. This essay gives you an opportunity to showcase your writing skills, reflect on your experiences, and present your personality to admissions officers. Be sure to revise and proofread your essay before submitting it.
8. Recommendations section
In this section, you can request recommendations from teachers, counselors, or other individuals who know you well academically or personally. Give your recommenders sufficient time to write strong letters on your behalf and follow up to ensure they have submitted them on time.
9. Additional Information section
The Additional Information section gives you an opportunity to provide any relevant information that may not fit elsewhere in the application. You can use this section to explain extenuating circumstances, gaps in your academic record, or any other important details.
10. Application fee waiver
If you qualify for an application fee waiver, the Common App provides an option to request one. Fee waivers are typically granted to students who demonstrate financial need or are part of specific programs, such as TRIO or Upward Bound.
11. Search and explore colleges
One of the great features of the Common App is the ability to search and explore colleges. You can filter institutions based on location, size, majors, and other criteria to find the best fit for your educational goals.
12. Customize each application
While the Common App simplifies the application process, it’s essential to tailor each application to the specific college you’re applying to. Some colleges may have additional requirements or supplementary essays that need to be completed outside of the Common App.
13. Submitting your application
Once you have completed all the sections and reviewed your application for accuracy, it’s time to submit it. Pay attention to deadlines and ensure that all required documents, including transcripts and test scores, have been sent to the colleges.
14. Tracking your application
The Common App provides a dashboard that allows you to track the progress of your applications. You can see which colleges have received your application, if recommendation letters have been submitted, and any updates from the colleges.
15. Common App vs. college-specific applications
While the Common App streamlines the application process, not all colleges accept it. Some institutions require students to use their own application, called a college-specific application. Be sure to check the requirements of each college on your list.
16. Reviewing and revising your application
If you need to make changes or updates to your application after submission, you may have the option to do so. However, it’s crucial to reach out to the colleges directly and inquire about their policies regarding application revisions.
17. Common App essay prompts
The Common App includes a set of essay prompts from which you can choose one to write your personal statement. These prompts vary each year but are designed to inspire introspection and self-reflection. Spend time brainstorming and selecting a prompt that resonates with you.
18. The importance of the Common App essay
The Common App essay is an essential component of your college application. It provides admissions officers with insight into your personality, writing abilities, and critical thinking skills. Take the time to craft a unique and memorable essay that sets you apart from other applicants.
19. Proofreading and editing your essay
Before submitting your Common App essay, ensure it is well-written, coherent, and free of grammatical or spelling errors. Seek feedback from teachers, mentors, or family members to help polish your essay and make it the best it can be.
20. Seeking professional help
If you’re struggling with the Common App or finding it overwhelming, consider seeking the assistance of college counselors, mentors, or online resources. Many organizations offer guidance and support to students navigating the college application process.
In conclusion, the Common Application is a valuable tool that simplifies and streamlines the college application process for students. By familiarizing yourself with its various sections and features, customizing each application, and carefully crafting your essay, you can leverage the Common App to present your strongest self to colleges and universities.