College Bound Students Should Know More About the Common App

deadline-clockWhat is the Common App?

The Common Application, often referred to as the ‘Common App’, is an online college application service whose goal is to streamline the app process for students. Rather than applying on each individual college’s website, students can apply to a number of schools at once using the Common App.

Here are the answers to some commonly asked questions about this application:

How many colleges use the Common App?

There are 519 colleges that use the Common App. Many of these schools also have their own application on their college website. Students are welcome to use either application and will not receive any benefit for using one over the other.

Is it exactly the same PROCEDURE to apply to every school using the CA?

No, it’s not. Many schools have supplements that students will be required to fill out in addition to the basic application. The supplements are within the Common App portal and will show up in your profile once you’ve selected the schools you’re applying to (this should be the first thing you do after logging in).

What do the supplements involve?

Supplements vary from school to school, but all schools have 4 sections: QuestionsAssign Recommenders, Submission, and Writing Supplement. The amount of info in each section will be different for every college (i.e. some colleges will require 3 Writing Supplements and some will require none.)

How many essays do I need to write for the Common App?

You will need to write two essays for the CA, a short answer as well as a personal statement. This year’s applicants will be glad to know that the essay prompts are not changing so you can get an early start on those essays!

Is the Common App my only option?

Absolutely not! You can also use the Universal College Application, however this app doesn’t have as many schools on its client list as the Common App so you may have to use more individual websites to apply in addition to this app.

What should I check before I submit?

First of all, make sure you have had someone look over your app before submitting! A parent or other trusted adult is best. Next, make sure that the “Common App” section has 6 green check marks and that “My Colleges” section has 3 green checkmarks. Once you’re sure of this, you can submit for each college. The app requires you to do one by one.

And now for some hot tips!

Common App Tips:

  1. Write down your password and username! It is way too easy to lose these and then you’ll be in a world of hurt.
  2. Create a “Master List of Writing Prompts” to organize yourself before you start working on the app. You could have essay topics that overlap and you don’t want to accidentally write anything twice.
  3. Fill out the “Common App” section first to get it out of the way early. **Make sure to fill out the Activities section, though it’s not required. It can be easy to miss, so double check that you’ve done this!**

Thanks for reading!  This is a guest blog post by Mia Myklebust from CollegeMapper.  To find out more about the Common Application and other hot topics for college bound students, check out other great blog posts and information from Mia at

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