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Get to Know the Common Application

Hundreds of 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.

What's Next?

For Students Age 18 and Older

Have you received a Personal Invitation to apply for a Student Credit card?

Learn how to qualify for a Personal Invitation to apply for a Student Credit Card


1st Financial Bank believes students who pick colleges wisely will also want to learn how to use credit cards wisely.

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COLLEGEdata Dollars are
points you earn by
completing certain
COLLEGEdata activities

Ways to earn
COLLEGEdata Dollars:

  • Complete your Admissions Profile.
  • Add colleges to your College Choices.
  • Update your Admissions Statuses.
  • Use the College Match tool.

What are COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$)?

COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$) are points you earn by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. The maximum number of CD$ you can redeem is 5000. Once you have earned at least 2500 CD$, you can redeem them for $25, which will be provided to you on a Loyalty Card, and once you earn another 2500 CD$, you can redeem those CD$ for a second $25, which will also be provided to you on a Loyalty Card.

Earn points and redeem them for
U.S. Dollars

Complete certain COLLEGEdata activities (for example, signing up, starting your Admissions Profile, searching for colleges, calculating your chances for admission, searching for scholarships, updating your Profile with your admission decisions). Each activity is worth a specific amount of points (CD$). You can redeem the points you earn for U.S. Dollars that will be issued to you in the form of a 1st Financial Bank USA Loyalty Mastercard®.

How do I earn COLLEGEdata Dollars?

You can earn CD$ by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. As soon as you sign up and activate your COLLEGEdata account, explore COLLEGEdata and begin completing COLLEGEdata activities to earn points.

Here is a full list of COLLEGEdata activities for which you may earn CD$ and the number of CD$ you can earn by completing each activity.*

Activity
CD$
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+ CD$
You just earned COLLEGEdata Dollars!
Check your CD$ Dashboard at the bottom of the page to view your CD$ balance, find other activities that you can complete to earn CD$, and redeem the CD$ you have earned for U.S. Dollars.