On July 31, the Common Application became available to students all over the country applying to college for the 2013 – 2014 school year. According to the Common Application website, the application was launched four hours ahead of schedule, and within 30 minutes, approximately 300 individuals had set up an account. The Common Application enables prospective students to fill out one application for multiple participating universities, drastically reducing the time it takes to apply for college. As of this year, 488 colleges accept the Common Application in 46 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, and Switzerland. It’s available online, and students are welcome to print their Common Application to mail to universities as well. Both first-year and transfer students can take advantage of this easier application. What to Keep in Mind While Filling Out the Application 1. Read all instructions. It can be easy to get caught up in just filling out the application as quickly as possible. Make sure you read and reread every component to ensure you’re doing it correctly. Once you hit send or drop that application in the mailbox, there’s no going back. 2. Keep it general. There are a few short answer questions on the Common Application; therefore, it’s important to stay general when answering. You don’t want to state that your work experience would translate well to XYZ University because a number of other universities will be receiving the same application. 3. Consider the supplement forms. The Common Application provides supplemental forms for teacher evaluations, art and athletic supplements, school reports, etc. Even though less is more in most cases, these supplemental forms help to portray your well-roundedness. Spend the extra time to fill these out either by yourself where it applies or with your educators. 4. Less is more. Speaking of less is more; don’t apply to all 488 colleges that accept the Common Application. This application isn’t more reason to apply to 20 colleges. It’s a chance for you to easily apply to those schools that you really care about and can see yourself attending. Experts recommend applying to five to eight different schools. On a side note, make sure you’re considering a reach school as well as a safety school in your choices. 5. Don’t mix and match. Don’t fill out the application online and then mail in your supplemental materials. That’s just too confusing for schools that get hundreds of applications every day. Instead, do it all online or all in the mail. 6. Don’t limit your college applications to the Common Application. Lastly, while the Common App certainly makes everything easier; it shouldn’t restrict where you apply. If you’re interested in a school that doesn’t accept the Common Application, don’t strike it from your list. Sure, you’ll have to do more work, but at least you’re not living in the “Stone Age,” when all colleges had separate applications that all needed to be filled out by hand. Good luck, Fastwebbers, on your college search – get started now so you’re ahead of the game! Are you using the Common Application? How many schools are you applying to?