What is the Common Application? A Student’s Guide to College Enrollment 

Are you planning to apply to more than one college? If so, did you know that there is a standardized college application that simplifies applying to multiple colleges? With the Common App, you can apply to more than 1,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. and twenty different countries with just one online form, saving you time and effort.  

Application requirements, personal essays, deadlines, and fees will be different depending on which colleges you apply to, but for every college, you’ll need to provide some common details. You can check the full list on Common App Ready, but here is an idea of what information you’ll need to gather: 

  • High school information: This includes the school’s GPA scale, class rank reporting, and a few other details that your high school guidance counselor can help you provide. 
  • An unofficial copy of your high school transcript: While some schools require your full academic record, others will just need the list of courses you’re taking this year. 
  • Test scores and dates: You can self-report your test scores for the SAT and ACT, but if a school requires a standardized test, you’ll need to send your official score reports to the college. 
  • Citizenship information: This can include your social security number, a copy of your green card, or your U.S. visa information. 
  • State residency information: Some schools have lower tuition for in-state students, so you’ll need to provide information about where you live. 
  • Parent information: You’ll share some basic information about one or more parents, such as their job title, education level, and any colleges they attended. 
  • Honors and awards: List up to five academic honors you’ve earned during high school. 
  • All activities: This is optional, but you can list and describe up to 10 activities you’ve participated in as a high school student, including jobs, volunteer work, hobbies, clubs, sports, family responsibilities, and leadership positions. 

To complete the Common App form, follow these steps: 

  • Go to the Common App and create an account (available through a mobile app as well).  
  • Select the schools you want to apply to. 
  • Ask for letters of recommendation from your guidance counselor, teachers, or other adults who know you well. You can invite them to write their letters through the Common App. 
  • Complete the common application questions, add a counselor, and complete the requirements for each college you are applying to. 
  • Plan your essays and write drafts. Depending on the college, you may need to write a personal essay, provide responses to college-specific questions, and submit a writing supplement. 
  • Submit your application.  

The Common App is available beginning every August, so start gathering the materials you need to complete the application and talk to a parent or guidance counselor if you need help completing the form. Just like with any other college application, take time proofreading to ensure you didn’t make any typos or other errors. Most importantly, take some of the stress off and save valuable time by applying to college with this convenient and easy-to-use tool. 

For more resources and information on preparing for college, visit the K12 College Prep Center.

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