The Common Application

Applying to a variety of colleges can be tedious and timing consuming. Every college has their set of requirements and way to review applicants. The Common Application is a standardized undergraduate college application form, that is accepted at more than 240 accredited, independent colleges and universities nationwide. If you’re applying to a number of participating schools, the Common Application is well worth your while because you can submit one application to all of the schools. It’ss submitted online and automatically uploads any institution-specific questions (formally known as supplemental questions) required for each of the schools to which you are applying. After submitting the Common Application (which includes the personal essay), you must submit the required Writing Supplement which consists of one short answer essay regarding an extracurricular activity of your choosing. Each student is responsible to identify if he/she is applying Early Action, Early Decision or Regular Decision. Once a student has completed the application, each school has their own application fee. Payment is made with a credit card to successfully submit your common application to all of the colleges you have chosen to apply to.
If a school does not accept the common application, it’s the students’ responsibility to complete the college application from each college individually. Applications between colleges can vary and will not ask the same questions of students. Make sure you search each college admission website to view “application required materials.” Required materials must be received by admission departments in order for a formal decision to be made (accepted, denied, wait listed).

The college application process is complex and changes from year to year. Do your homework on each school you are applying to so you understand the review process. The admission offices will not review applications until they become complete. Therefore, submitting an application is only one small part of the process. A student will need to submit their high school transcript and standardized test scores, along with supporting documentation (essay, interview, letters of recommendation, activity sheet etc.). Required documents vary from school to school.

Finally, apply to a college first before you submit documents. Colleges need an application in order to hold your materials together. If you submit your materials first before the application, your documents will take a lot longer to match up after your apply. Keep in mind, once a completed application reaches the admission counselors desk, it takes most colleges about a month to make a formal admission decision.