Get to Know the Common Application

More than 600 colleges and universities accept The Common Application, which lets you apply to multiple schools using one centralized application.

Most college applicants consider using the Common Application. Why? If your college list is long, it can save time. With the Common App, you enter your basic information and stats into a single application that is sent to all your colleges. The Common App also centralizes all the pieces of your applications—essays, supplemental questions, recommendations, deadlines—all in one place.

Colleges That Accept the Common Application

A new version of the Common Application is available every August 1. CollegeData's Common Application Colleges at a Glance shows you which colleges are participating, as well as their application deadlines, fees, and writing requirements.

The Common Application Essay

The Common Application includes five essay topics designed to help demonstrate your ability to write clearly and grow from your personal experiences. Most, but not all, Common App colleges require the essay. So, it's a good idea to start working on it as soon as possible so you have plenty of time to get feedback and make revisions.

Colleges Have Additional Requirements

Many colleges will ask you to answer additional questions, write additional essays, and submit recommendation letters. All will ask for information from your high school. The Common Application supplies grade report and evaluation forms for this purpose. Your counselors and teachers need to complete these forms only once, and then the Common Application sends them to the colleges on your list.

Making Changes to Your Application

You can revise and save your application (including your essay) as many times as you like. Once you have sent a Common Application to your first college, you may create different versions of it for other colleges.

How to Access the Common Application

Go to commonapp.org, or link to the application from the website of a school that accepts it. Using the Common Application is free, but you will be required to pay the college's application fees. Application fee waivers are available through the Common Application for students who qualify. If you want to explore the Common Application before you're ready to apply to college, you can create a "practice applicant account" that lets you test drive an application without sharing it with colleges.

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