Common Application 101

by | Aug 8, 2016 | Applications

You’ve heard all about it: The Common Application. But what is it? How do you get started? Do you have to use it? And, will all your colleges accept it? These are some of the “common” questions we get about the Common Application. Below we’ve answered all of these questions and more. Get ready to take notes…Common App 101 is in session.

What exactly is the Common Application? The Common Application is a way for students to apply to many colleges using one centralized application.


Do all schools take the Common Application? No, not all colleges take the Common Application. However, there are nearly 700 that do! It is typical for a student to be applying to a handful of colleges that accept the Common App, and perhaps, a few that don’t.


Do I have to use the Common App? If it’s the only application that your school accepts, then yes. Some schools offer two or more application options to students, so in that case, you can choose which application you want to submit. To find out which application(s) your school accepts, go to that school’s individual admissions webpage.


So, it’s just one application that gets sent to all of my colleges? For the most part, yes. However, each college that accepts the Common Application will have their own school-specific questions as well. So, think of it in two parts: the first part would be the main Common Application, which gets sent to every school; and then the second part, which consists of questions only pertaining to one particular school. Both parts together equal a completed application.


How and when do I get started? You can start at any time! Simply log-on to and create an account. Be sure to write down your user name and password in a safe space for future log-ins. Registering the first time can take 15-20 minutes because you enter a lot of initial information about yourself. But, once you create your account, it’s simple to log on and start answering the application questions.


How do I specify which colleges I want to apply to using the Common Application? When you log on to the Common App site, the homepage will have four tabs: Dashboard, My Colleges, Common App and Search. To add schools, simply go to the Search tab, and start typing in the name of your school. Hit Search and if the name of the school appears, you know they accept the Common Application. Click on the box next to that school’s name and hit the Add button. That school will now appear in your Dashboard tab and My Colleges tab. Once you add all of your schools, they should all appear under My Colleges. That is also where you will find the college-specific questions and college deadlines.



College applications can be confusing and tricky, but they don’t have to be. If you have any questions about the Common Application, or other college applications, please contact us today.

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