Your Guide to the Common Application

Attention, college applicants! The 2017-18 Common Application is now available. The Common App allows you to submit applications to multiple colleges and universities by completing one online form. More than 700 colleges accept the Common App.

Learn about the benefits of the Common App and get our expert tips on how to manage your time through the college admission cycle.

Top 3 Benefits of the Common App

1. Save time. Instead of filling out the same information a dozen times, you only have to do it once.

2. Reduce senior year stress. Through the Common App dashboard you can track what documents and letters of recommendation you have submitted and what is still outstanding for each school.

3. Write only one essay (plus any supplements). You’ll submit one essay through the Common Application for all your schools. Some colleges may ask you to also answer a few supplemental questions. Check out the 2018-2019 Common App essay prompts now so you can start strategizing!

How to Start Your Common Application

Before you can submit your application, you’ll need to gather your materials. (Read up on all the pieces of your college application). Here are are your early fall priorities:

1. Create a Common App login.

You can create an account now and start working on your applications later.

2. Make a list of your target Common App schools.

Browse our college profiles, and think about what you want in your prospective college. Our Admissions Experts can help you put together your list!

3. Register (and prep for!) the SAT and/or ACT.

Plan to take the tests so that colleges will receive your scores by the deadline. If you’re thinking of applying early decision and you’re not happy with your previous scores, you should take the September ACT or the October SAT.

4. Research the application requirements for every school on your list.

Even if all the colleges you are applying to accept the Common App, their requirements may not be the same! Does your dream school require certain SAT Subject Tests? Gather this information early on so you can plan your senior year testing schedule.

5. Compose a list of your extracurricular activities.

Don’t forget to include things you do outside of school like your weekend job or playing on a regional soccer team.

6. Ask for recommendations.

Ask your teachers for letters of recommendation early, and make sure they have all the information they need (like a resume of your accomplishments ) to meet the deadline.

7. Write your Common Application essays

You'll choose from one of seven college essay prompts. Keep in mind that many colleges may also ask you to complete supplemental essay questions that are tailored to their schools.

8. Start collecting parent or legal guardian information.

The Common App will ask you to list their information about their educational background and employer, so if you don’t have this info, start asking! Don't forget to keep up your grades! Read our expert tips for managing homework AND your college applications.

The Common App: Dates & Deadlines

  • Common App goes live : August 1

  • Early Decision Deadline: Typically November 1

  • Regular Decision Deadline: Typically January 1

Application eadlines vary by school, so be sure to triple-check the dates for each school where you plan to submit an application. Here’s a sample list of application deadlines for several colleges.

Exceptions to Note

1. College-Specific Requirements: Not all Common App schools have the same writing, testing, essay, and letter of rec requirements. For example, if you’re applying early action to Stanford, you should know that October is the last acceptable SAT test Date and September is the last acceptable ACT test date.

2. Financial Aid: The financial aid process is separate from submitting your Common App (and with different deadlines!). Learn everything you need to know about financial aid.

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