What is the Common App? 1

As with any process, there may be changes to how things are normally done. One of the latest changes involves college students who are applying for admittance to colleges all over the United States and abroad. The present name for the new process is called the “Common App”.

What is the Common App?

The Common App, which is short for “common application” is an online application for college students. Completing this application online is not voluntary but a requirement for students if the college of their choice is a common app college.

Why the Common App?

Initially used by 15 private colleges, the common app has emerged as a simplified way to administer a standardized college application process. This online application is now a requirement for all students who want to attend certain schools and therefore is being used in the United States and five other countries.

Listed below is the type of information that may be asked about when completing the Common Application:

  • Personal Information
  • Educational Information
  • Family Background
  • Standardized Test Scores
  • Academic Honors Achieved
  • Extracurricular Activities (sports, volunteering, etc.)
  • Work Experience

There are also personal essay requirements, as well as questions about a student’s criminal history.

Who Uses the Common App?

There are currently more than 700 member schools that use the common app for college admittance. Commonapp.org has a fact sheet that lists each member school and the year they joined. For schools to be considered for membership, they must use what is referred to as a “holistic evaluation process”. This means that the “common app college” must take several factors into consideration when evaluating a prospective student and not just test scores.

While the common app has greatly streamlined the process of applying for college dramatically, there are both pros and cons to its application.

Common App – Pros

A student using the common application can greatly reduce the effort of having to complete multiple applications when applying to college.  All the student needs to do is go to the common app website, create an account, complete the application and submit it to one or several member colleges.  Students are allowed to make unlimited changes to their application. However, they can only change their personal statement section three times.

The ACT and SAT scores are integrated into the process so there is no need to send them separately. The student can also, preview their application so they can identify and fix any errors prior to submitting their application.

Common App – Cons

Like many new things, the common app has not been without its growing pains. According to various credible news sources, there have been glitches in this system that have slowed down the admissions process greatly. The deadlines for many colleges have had to be pushed back.

Because there is no other way to enroll, the students will have to enter their information via this common database. Since colleges will be making their decision based upon the information in this one application, it must be filled out completely and thoroughly. Any missing information could adversely impact or delay a student getting into the college of their choice.

Unfortunately, if the college has special admissions guidelines, the system does not always accommodate these changes so the student will need to supply or they may have some substantial problems down the road.

Students who cannot get through the process in time, face the possibility of missing a schools deadline, if they do not seek assistance completing the application. Also, since the application is a one-size-fits-all solution, if a particular college has different procedures and requirements for admitting a student, the student may be forced to fill out a separate application for that respective college. This is especially true for students who are trying to apply to some Ivy League colleges.

How Do I Fill Out the Common App?

Filling out the application is relatively easy because it is intuitive and people can follow its flow quite easily. Students who want to apply for college can access this application via commonapp.org. The student will have to create a log-in ID before they can start the process.

If a student has a problem, they can send a request via email to the “Common App Applicant Help Center“. Students will generally receive a response to their requests within a 35 minute time frame.

Tips for Completing the Common App

To make sure the student has an opportunity to be accepted into multiple colleges, they should make sure that they are considering the following tips.

  • Get yourself organized and gather all the necessary information prior to starting the application process.
  • Sign-up as early as possible to meet college entrance deadlines.
  • Don’t be afraid to give yourself the credit you deserve. Tell your story, don’t be afraid to mention any honors you received or the activities and clubs you were involved in.
  • Ensure responses cater to the colleges of their choice by reading the guidelines of the colleges that the student is interested in.
  • Know that some web browsers and operating systems work better with the Common App than others. It is wise to confirm ahead of time that the computer you are using meets the requirements. If not, you run the risk of losing data or in the case of the web browser not having all features work.

Take A-Ways

The common app is a centralized database that streamlines the application for colleges in the United States and abroad. There are glitches that have caused several colleges to extend their deadlines for decision making. Students who want to attend college may have to enter their information via this process or they may not be eligible to attend their chosen school.  Therefore, it is critical that everyone understands the process as it applies to their specific situation.

About the Author

Johnny Rogers and His wife Helena are the owners of College Tidbits – The Online College Planning Guide. If you found this article useful, they would greatly appreciate it,  if you would consider Liking their Facebook Fan Page or Following them on Twitter.

Common App Resources – Main Site

Common App Main Site

Common App Fact Sheet

List of Common Application Member Schools

Application Requirements by Schools

Getting Help with the Common App

How to Bulletproof Your Common Application

Common App “Applicant Help Center

Common App Support Center

How to Handle Complications With the Common App

Common Application Personal Essay – Tips and Samples

Common Application Essay Strategies – from Home School Success

Common App News

Common App – Latest News: http://bit.ly/1hSXWAq

Crash of the Common App (U.S. News 2014)

Common App glitches frustrate students (Washington Post)

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