When you are planning to get into a university to get a degree, most of you will want to apply to more than one college or university. And applying is the first step on your road to higher education. Don’t let the application process overwhelm you or become a stumbling block. There are online tools to make that first step easier. One of the most useful steps in this direction is using the Common Application.
Seize it all with the Common App!
You have probably heard of the Latin expression “Carpe diem.” In English, this means “Seize the day.” When applying to institutions of higher learning, the Common Application allows you to “Carpe Omnia” – “Seize it all!”
Applying to multiple colleges can be time consuming and intimidating. Each university has its own application criteria. Every year universities add more complexity to their application process. More and more, you are competing against other students, which, in itself, adds additional stress. The Common Application is designed to simplify the application process by allowing you to submit one application that is accepted by multiple schools.
What is the Common Application?
Common Application is a non-profit organization of almost 900 colleges and universities dedicated to lowering the barriers to college access by streamlining the application process.
Their website allows you to submit one application that can automatically be transmitted to multiple universities. This innovative tool will enable students to apply to their choice of almost 900 schools with a single application, making the college application process straightforward, simpler, and more efficient.
Common App Fee
The Common App process is free to use, but every college charges its application processing fee. It is usually $30 to $75 for U.S. applicants and more for international applicants. You can generally apply for a fee waiver if you need one..
When does the Common App open?
The Common App is open for applications every year on August 1st. The application deadline depends on whether you are applying for an early decision (usually November 1st) or a regular decision (ordinarily January 1st). You should be aware that each school may also have its own deadline. Please check the deadlines for each college you are applying to.
How to apply for college using the Common App?
Start by Creating a Common App Account
You create an account with an e-mail address and password. Then a few questions about who you are (student, parent, teacher, or counselor) and when you’re applying to college.
Search for Common Application Member Schools
Not every college and university are members of Common Application. Some may require you to fill out their own application form or ask you to use another application system. Add schools that interest you to the My Colleges list in your Common App account.
Review Required Admission Information
Some Common Application schools may have different requirements (for testing, essay, letters of recommendation, etc.). You can use the same Common Application form, but admission requirements may differ from school to school.
Assemble the General Information You Will Need – Almost every application will ask for:
A copy of your high school transcript
A list of your extracurricular activities both inside and outside of school
Test scores and test dates from your college entrance exams (SATs, ACTs, SAT Subject Tests)
Parent or Legal Guardian information (educational background, occupational information, employer information, etc.)
Start Filling Out Your Application – Generally the application includes seven sections that are divided as follows:
Courses & Grades
Your Application Dashboard will show all the colleges you are applying to. And this dashboard also shows the status of each component of your applications. From your Dashboard: Pick an essay topic; Start filling in general information; Ask a teacher or employer for a letter of recommendation.
Start Your Common Application Essay
Most colleges and universities want to get to know more about you when you apply. Besides the typical personal information and educational background, they usually require a personal essay.
When you use the Common Application, you’ll submit one essay for all your schools for which you are applying. Some colleges may ask you to answer a few additional questions.
It is often difficult to choose an appropriate topic for your essay, but the Common App makes it a little easier. You will be given a choice of several “Essay Prompts” to get you started. The list changes each year, but you can see this year’s list when you visit their website.
Start by choosing a prompt that is relevant and meaningful to you. Plan what you want to communicate to the colleges of your choice. Write a draft of your essay ahead of time. Then edit and re-write until you are confident that your essay is true to you and your values, thoughtful, and enumerates your interests, priorities, and passions.
Some of the Essay Prompts, from previous years, have been:
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth.
The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure
Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it.
Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time.
Share an essay on any topic of your choice.
The best essay topic is one to which you can connect. Choose a prompt that inspires you to share a part of yourself or something important to you, with the college admissions staff at each school on your list.
Track Your Application Status
When you create your Common Application account, you will be presented with your personal dashboard. The icons on the dashboard will indicate your application status for all the colleges and universities you are applying to. A green check means your work has been submitted to that particular college, a yellow circle means your application is still in progress, and a red dash implies that a specific section is not required for admission to that college.
Remember to Submit
Submit all your application materials by 11:59 PM on the deadline date posted on your Common App Dashboard.
Common App Schools – What universities use the Common Application?
Nearly 900 colleges and universities are members of Common Application. They strive for access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process. Membership in Common Application is open to colleges that share the mission of advancing college access. All members must be:
Accredited by an association recognized by either CHEA or U.S. Department of Education
If located outside the U.S., a member of the Council of International Schools
Committed to the pursuit of access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process
No. The Common app is designed for only undergraduate programs. You can start your search for specific colleges and universities that are members, by the name of the institution, or you can use multiple criteria:
Accepts first-year applications
Accepts transfer applications
Public or Private
Small (under 2,000) / Medium / Large (over 15,000)
Rural / Suburban / Urban
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