Submitting An Application in the Common App Guide

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female intern smiling while looking at the camera

Submitting An Application in the Common App Guide

Applying to colleges can be a daunting task. However, the Common Application, lovingly dubbed the ‘Common App,’ can streamline the process significantly. This helpful platform can simplify things by enabling you to submit applications to multiple colleges simultaneously. But how exactly does it work? Let us walk you through the process step-by-step.

Understanding the Common App

The Common App is perhaps the single most facilitative development in the realm of college applications. It is a centralized application system, allowing applicants to submit the same application to any of its 900+ member institutions.

What is the Common App?

The Common App is a non-profit membership organization committed to access, equity, and integrity in college admission, serving over three million applicants, teachers, and counselors annually. It allows students to apply to member colleges using a single application, reducing the time and effort required.

When understanding the Common App, it is essential to recognize its impact on streamlining the college application process. Before the Common App, students had to fill out multiple applications, each with its requirements and deadlines. This often led to confusion and added stress for applicants who were already navigating the complexities of the college admissions process.

With the Common App, students can now create a single application that can be submitted to multiple colleges. This saves time and allows for a more organized and efficient application process. Students can input their personal information, academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and essays into the Common App and then select which colleges they want to send their application to. This eliminates the need to repeat the same information over and over again for each college.

Benefits of Using the Common App

Using the Common App automatically reduces the stress and workload of applying to multiple colleges. The uniformity in the application process ensures fair assessment grounds for all students, leveling the playing field for applicants everywhere.

Furthermore, the Common App provides additional benefits beyond simplifying the application process. One of the most significant advantages is access to financial aid and scholarship tools. The Common App’s platform allows students to search and apply for various financial aid options, making it easier to find and secure financial assistance for college. This can be a game-changer for many students who may not have known about or had access to these opportunities.

Side view at multi-ethnic group of students using laptop while studying in college

In addition to financial aid, the Common App also offers resources and support for students throughout the application process. They guide you in writing college essays, preparing for interviews, and understanding the admissions requirements of different colleges. This support can be invaluable for students who may be navigating the college application process independently or who may not have access to extensive college counseling resources.

Overall, the Common App has revolutionized the college application process by providing a centralized platform that simplifies and streamlines the application process. It has made applying to college more accessible and equitable while offering additional resources and opportunities for students.

Whether you’re a high school student just beginning to explore college options or a counselor guiding students through the application process, understanding the Common App is essential for navigating the ever-changing college admissions landscape.

Preparing for the Common App

Adequate preparation before diving into the Common App will save you time and stress later. You will want to make sure all necessary bits of information and documents are readily accessible when you sit down to apply.

When preparing for the Common App, you should take several key steps to ensure a smooth and successful application process. One of the first things you’ll need to do is gather all the necessary information. This includes your academic transcripts, test scores, work history, extracurricular activities, and any other relevant facts about your life that you’d want the admission officers to know about.

Gathering all this information beforehand is essential so you’re not scrambling to find it while filling out your application. By having everything readily accessible, you’ll be able to complete your application more efficiently and accurately.

Gathering Necessary Information

When it comes to academic transcripts, you’ll want to make sure you have copies of your high school transcripts and any college transcripts, if applicable. These transcripts provide a comprehensive overview of your academic performance and are often required by colleges as part of the application process.

In addition to transcripts, you’ll also need to gather information about your test scores. This includes SAT or ACT scores and any subject-specific tests you may have taken, such as AP exams or SAT Subject Tests. These scores help colleges assess your academic abilities and readiness for their programs.

Another important aspect of your application is your work history. This includes any part-time jobs, internships, or volunteer work you’ve done throughout high school or college. By showcasing your work experience, you demonstrate your commitment, responsibility, and ability to balance academics with other responsibilities.

Extracurricular activities are also an essential part of your application. These can include involvement in clubs, sports teams, community service organizations, or any other activities that you’re passionate about. Colleges are interested in seeing how you’ve impacted outside of the classroom and how you’ve developed as a well-rounded individual.

Lastly, you’ll need to gather information about your parents or guardians. This includes their educational history and current or recent employment details. Colleges often ask for this information to better understand your background and family support system.

Identifying Suitable Colleges

With over 800 member colleges, the Common App offers prospective students many options. However, conducting thorough research on the institutions you’re considering must ensure they align with your goals and aspirations.

The Hoover Tower and view above Stanford at sunset in Palo Alto in California

When identifying suitable colleges, there are several factors you should take into account. One of the most apparent factors is location. Do you prefer a college close to home, or are you open to exploring different regions? Consider the climate, proximity to major cities, and overall environment when evaluating the location of a college.

Size is another crucial factor to consider. Do you thrive in small, intimate settings or prefer a larger, more diverse campus? Consider your learning style and personal preferences when deciding on the college size.

Academic programs are also a crucial consideration. Research the majors and areas of study each college offers and determine if they align with your intellectual interests and career goals. Look into your desired field’s faculty, resources, and opportunities.

Campus culture is another factor that can significantly impact your college experience. Consider the campus’s social atmosphere, clubs and organizations, and overall vibe. Do you see yourself fitting in and thriving within the community?

Lastly, financial aid availability should also be taken into consideration. Look into each college’s scholarships, grants, and financial aid packages. Consider your financial situation and determine if the college is affordable and provides the necessary support to make your education financially feasible.

By cross-referencing these factors with your personal aspirations, academic goals, and financial situation, you can gauge your compatibility with the colleges of your choice. This will help you narrow down your options and make informed decisions when it comes time to apply.

Navigating the Common App Interface

While designed to be user-friendly, the Common App interface can sometimes seem overwhelming due to its comprehensive nature. Before diving into the details, let’s take a moment to understand why the Common App interface is an essential tool for college applicants.

The Common App is a centralized application platform used by over 900 colleges and universities worldwide. It streamlines the application process by allowing students to apply to multiple institutions using a single application. This saves time and effort and provides a standardized format for colleges to review applications.

Creating Your Common App Account

Firstly, head over to the Common App website and create your account. The process is straightforward: you must provide basic information and set up a secure password. Remember to use an email address you check regularly to ensure you don’t miss out on critical updates.

Once you have created your account, you can access various tools and resources to help you navigate the college application process. These include college search tools, financial aid information, and personalized recommendations based on your interests and preferences.

It’s important to note that the Common App interface is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly. Even if you’re not tech-savvy, you should have no trouble navigating the various sections and completing your application.

Exploring the Dashboard

Your Common App dashboard is your personal “mission control.” It’s where you can view all your college choices, keep track of deadlines, and monitor the progress of your applications. It also provides helpful resources and articles to guide you through the application process.

a college student looking at her laptop

One of the critical features of the dashboard is the “My Colleges” section. Here, you can add and remove colleges from your list, view their requirements, and track your progress for each application. This feature lets you stay organized and ensure you don’t miss any critical deadlines.

In addition to the “My Colleges” section, the dashboard provides various resources to help you prepare for college. These resources include essay prompts, tips for writing a strong personal statement, and guidance on requesting letters of recommendation.

Furthermore, the dashboard allows you to track the status of your application materials, such as transcripts and test scores. You can easily see which documents have been received by the colleges and which are still pending. This feature gives you peace of mind and helps you stay on top of your application progress.

Filling Out the Common App

Submitting an application in the Common App is akin to laying down the foundation of your future academic journey—it’s that crucial. This platform is a centralized hub where you can apply to multiple colleges simultaneously, streamlining the otherwise cumbersome process.

But don’t let the convenience fool you; the Common App demands meticulous attention to detail. You make a first impression from the moment you create your account. Think of it as a digital handshake with your prospective colleges.

Your profile isn’t just a collection of facts; it’s a narrative, a curated exhibit of who you are and what you bring to the table. Therefore, ensure that every section, from personal information to extracurricular activities, is filled out with utmost precision and authenticity.

Personal Information Section

The Personal Information section might seem straightforward, but it’s more than a bureaucratic necessity. This is the section where you’re not just a name or a number; you’re a unique individual with a specific background.

It’s essential to be accurate and transparent here, as this information can be used for demographic considerations and scholarship opportunities. For instance, your ethnicity, first-generation status, or affiliation with certain organizations could make you eligible for specific grants or programs.

So, don’t rush through this section when submitting an application in the Common App. Take your time to ensure that every detail accurately reflects who you are, not just as a student but as a person.

Education History Section

Ah, the Education History section—a critical part of submitting an application in the Common App. This is where you list your academic credentials, and it’s not just about flaunting your GPA or class rank.

a male and female college students standing at a doorway

Colleges are looking for trends in your academic performance, the rigor of your coursework, and how you’ve grown as a student over the years. Did you take increasingly challenging courses? Have you shown improvement in areas where you initially struggled? These nuances matter.

Moreover, if your transcript has some anomalies—like a sudden dip in grades during a particular year—it’s crucial to provide context. Many schools offer an additional comments section where you can explain such situations. Use it wisely; your future could depend on it.

Test Scores and Activities Section

Lastly, let’s talk about the Test Scores and Activities section. When submitting an application in the Common App, this section is your stage to showcase your skills and passions outside the classroom. Standardized test scores, while often dreaded, provide colleges with a uniform metric to evaluate applicants.

But remember, many schools are moving towards a test-optional policy, so if your scores aren’t your strong suit, you can still shine through your activities. You list your extracurriculars, work experience, and volunteer activities here.

Don’t just enumerate them; elaborate on your roles, the skills you gained, and the impact you made. Whether you were the debate team captain or initiated a community service project, this is your chance to show colleges that you’re academically adept and well-rounded.

Ready to Take the Next Step in Your College Journey?

You’ve just navigated the labyrinthine process of applying the Common App, but let’s be honest—this is just the tip of the iceberg. The college admissions process is a complex, multifaceted endeavor that requires more than just filling out forms. It’s about presenting the best version of yourself academically and personally. That’s where AdmissionSight comes in.

We specialize in helping students like you turn their college dreams into reality. From personalized essay coaching to strategic college selection, our services are designed to elevate your application to the next level. We understand the nuances of the admissions process and can provide the expert guidance you need to navigate it successfully.

Don’t leave your future to chance. Schedule a free consultation with AdmissionSight today and take the first step towards the college experience you’ve always envisioned.


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