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Common Application: Essential Information to Know

Last updated September 29, 2022

Applying to college soon? You’ll probably be using the Common Application. The Common Application is accepted by over 900 colleges and universities around the world. Instead of having to create an account on each college’s website and fill out separate applications, you can conveniently fill out the Common Application once and save time (and money) when applying to schools! Here’s some important information to know about the Common Application.

What you’ll need

When you sit down to complete the Common Application, give yourself enough time to complete it fully and thoughtfully - we recommend setting aside around 1-2 hours. There are some essential things you’ll need to start the Common Application, such as:

  • A copy of your high school transcript
  • Work experience
  • List of clubs & extracurriculars
  • Hobbies
  • Test scores (SAT, ACT, etc.)
  • Academic achievements and honors
  • Your parent/guardian’s information

Once you have these things on hand, you’ll be ready to start the process of applying.

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Starting the Common App

To begin the application, you will need to create an account. When making your account, you will need to give information such as name, address, phone number, email, and date of birth.

Filling out the Common App

Now that you’ve created your account, here’s a breakdown of the different sections/tabs you’ll see on your Common Application dashboard.

College Search

To begin, click on the “College Search” tab to search for the colleges you intend to apply to and add them to your list. Not sure where you want to apply yet? Check out our guide for building your college list to explore and apply to some great colleges.

My Colleges

After you add your desired colleges to your list, they can be found under the “My Colleges” tab. By clicking on a specific college, you can see a breakdown of their specific application deadlines, fees, requirements, and more. Different schools may have different deadlines, so be sure to thoroughly read up on each school to make sure your applications are submitted accurately and on time.

Be sure to click on the “Recommenders & FERPA” sub-tab when looking at each individual school under the “My Colleges” tab. You need to complete the FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) Release Authorization to allow your schools to release information to the colleges you are applying to. After you complete the authorization, you can then invite those writing you a letter of recommendation as well as your counselor to submit your School Report and any other required forms.

Common App

In the “Common App” tab, you will be able to provide information that will be sent to every college you apply to. This includes family information, education history, and test scores. Additionally, you will be able to list all of the extracurricular activities you’ve participated in under the “Activities” section. There are a variety of activities you can write about, such as family responsibilities, jobs and internships, volunteering, hobbies, and sports.

Lastly, you will need to submit your college essay. The Common Application gives you 7 different prompts to choose from - choose one that feels most relevant to you and one that you think you’ll have the most to write about for. Want a second opinion on your college essay? We can help! Submit it to us for free review - we’ll have it back to you within a week with personalized, actionable feedback.

Financial Aid Resources

Under the “Financial Aid Resources” tab are important financial aid resources for students - such as information about scholarships, completing the FAFSA, and more. Be sure to check out these resources as you begin the process of applying for financial aid.

Application fees

But what about application fees? Good news - more than 325 of the colleges that accept the Common Application don’t have an application fee. For those that do, you may be able to request an application fee waiver. Learn more here about requesting a fee waiver for college applications.

Have more questions about how the Common App works? Text #Hello to 33-55-77 and we’ll walk you through how it works and answer any questions you might have.

Source for this piece: The Common Application

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