The Common App: What it is & How to Make Yours Amazing

Applying to college is a stressful whirlwind of trying to figure out where you belong, which programs best fit your academic goals and who has the best dining hall food (you know it’s important!). But filling out college applications is 10 times easier when you use the Common Application. Haven’t heard of it? Don’t worry; HC is here to explain how the Common App can turn your application process into smooth sailing.

1. What is the Common App?

The Common App is a not-for-profit organization that serves to provide applications that students and school officials can send to more than 500 colleges. Put simply, the Common App is your key to successfully applying to multiple colleges using the same application. After signing up and making an account, one application can be sent to several colleges at once, eliminating time spent on filling out an individual app for every school you want to apply to. 

So here’s the scoop: The Common App will present you with an application similar to what you’ve probably seen a million times before when applying to jobs. You fill in all of your personal information, like your name, your address, your high school information, etc. Then, the Common App will give you a section where you can brag about all of your high school activities that set you apart from the rest of the pack. Finally, you get a selection of personal essay options that can be sent to each school you apply to (more on this and how to rock the essay later!). 

What makes the Common App unique to every school is the supplemental part of the application. This is where each college you apply to can ask you individual questions that reflect what their admissions officers specifically want to hear. You can expect to see questions like, “Why are you the perfect fit for  University?” It’s the part of the application where colleges test not just your GPA and your activities, but what you’ll contribute to their specific school. 

In terms of deadlines, you’ll have to stay on top of when your top colleges want the application by. Be aware of the early decision, early action and regular decision deadlines for every school, because the Common App will not remind you of those dates.


2. Who uses the Common App?

More than 500 private and public universities and colleges accept the Common Application. The odds are in your favor that your dream school could be one of those 500! Check out the list of schools that accept it here

“Every school I applied to during my senior year of high school wound up accepting the Common App,” says Nicole M., a junior at Marist College. “It made my life so much easier!”