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How to Submit the Common App

Last updated July 1, 2024

Most students applying to college will need to use the Common App– a college application 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 this application once and save time (and money) when applying to schools! We show you how to complete and submit the Common App.

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What you’ll need

When you sit down to complete the Common App, give yourself enough time to complete it fully and thoughtfully– we recommend around 1-2 hours. Here’s what you’ll need to complete the application:

  • A copy of your high school transcript. Your transcript is an official record of all the classes you took and grades you received in high school. There are two kinds of transcripts: official and unofficial. Different colleges may require different kinds of transcripts, so be sure to double-check that you're meeting the necessary requirements. Your application may be considered incomplete if you don’t. Typically, students can submit their unofficial transcript themselves, while their high school counselor will need to submit their official transcript. When completing the application, you can “Invite a Counselor” using their email address so they can submit your official transcript and any other supplemental things needed for your application, like letters of recommendation. If you have completed (or are working on) any college courses through dual enrollment or similar programs, you will need to submit a transcript from both your current high school and your college.
  • Extracurriculars. Be sure to include all the relevant extracurricular activities you’ve participated in during high school, like work, clubs, sports, hobbies, or family responsibilities. 
  • Test scores (SAT, ACT). Different schools have different testing requirements. Some require test scores, while others may be test optional or not accept scores at all. Check to make sure you meet the requirements of each school you’re applying to.
  • Your parent/guardian’s information. This will include things like their employment status and highest level of education they’ve completed.
  • Academic achievements and honors. This can include things like making honor roll, winning a competitive academic contest, or joining the Honor Society. 

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

Starting the Common App

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

Completing the Common App

Now that you’ve created your account, here’s a breakdown of the different sections/tabs you’ll see on your 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 on building your college list to explore and apply to colleges that interest you and align with your goals.

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 its application requirements, deadlines, and fees. 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 your academic information to the colleges you are applying to. After you complete the authorization, you can then invite those writing you letters 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. 

Lastly, you will need to submit your college application essay or personal statement. The Common App gives you seven 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.

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

More than 325 of the colleges that accept the Common App don’t have an application fee. For those that do, you may be able to request an application fee waiver. Learn if you qualify for a fee waiver here

Have any questions about applying to college? Text #College to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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