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

3. Why is it worth filling out?

As the Common App becomes more and more popular, it also could become your only option to apply to a college as colleges phase out their individual applications in favor of the Common App. “If you want to apply to many private colleges, the majority of well-known and highly ranked schools, they only use the Common App,” says Michelle Podbelsek, a college counselor at College Counseling Associates. “That is their application.”

Prestigious universities such as Boston University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, New York University, Northeastern University, Northwestern University and Yale University have all become known as “exclusive users,” meaning that they only use the Common App for their admissions.

“The Common App is much more convenient instead of having to fill out separate applications for every school you apply to,” says Melissa, a junior at the University of Delaware. “It saves a lot of time and is simple to understand.”

4. Tips and tricks for an application that can’t be rejected

If you’re still uneasy about using the Common App, know that there are a ton of things you could do to make your college application shine! One of the most important components of the application is your list of high school activities.

“Most of the Common App is just data about you - address, date of birth, your high school, etc.,” Podbelsek explains. “The parts that require strategy are the activities section and the essay.”

Podbelsek suggests that “for the activities part, each student should first lay out all of their info on a separate Google or Word doc. List every single thing and then put them in the order of importance.” Although you can only include your top 10 activities on the Common App, you can put any extra clubs or sports in the Additional Info section to be sure that colleges know all they can about you.

But perhaps the most important aspect of your application is the personal essay (and we know that Elle Woods would agree!). The Common App requires one main essay that each college you apply to will receive and then the supplemental questions asked by specific colleges.

Podbelsek recommends that collegiettes keep their essays personal and informal and show who they are through what they write about. College admissions officers are looking to get to know you through your essay, so be genuine and write about something that really means a lot to you.  As heartwarming as a story about your father and how he is your hero would be, that’s not something that helps admissions officers get to know you (instead, they’ll get to know your dad!). Write about a tough time in your life, something that you volunteered for or an event that changed your life. These are the things that will show you have grown as a person and will continue to do so throughout college. You may not feel as if you stand out from the crowd as an average high school student, but think about it: your life is unique and you’ve had experiences different from everyone else’s that made you who you are today. 

The Common App can be one of your greatest assets when you apply to colleges. It saves you time and makes it easier to send everything you’ve worked so hard to accomplish in high school to every college you want to apply to. So now that you’re a Common App expert, go write those essays and knock those admission officers’ socks off!