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4 Tips for Successfully Completing the Common Application

The Common Application: three words familiar to every high school senior planning on going to college.

Aggie Kallinicou

August 20, 2015

4 Tips for Successfully Completing the Common Application
In 1975, a group of people came together to make applying to college easier for high school students. What they created is now known as the Common Application or “Common App” for short. Instead of having to fill out separate applications for each college, students can submit one application to multiple colleges that accept it. This cuts down on time spent filling out applications and increases the number of applications that each student submits. Here are four tips to help you successfully complete your common application:

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1. Not all colleges are members of the Common Application.
Although there are 596 member schools, it’s important to remember that some schools have their own applications.

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Also, many schools ask for writing supplements and/or recommendation letters in addition to the application. Pay attention to what each school is asking for, and make sure to include all requirements. For a complete list of schools that accept the Common Application, visit the this site.
2. Essay prompts do not have to be strictly adhered to.
The essay is one of the most important parts of the Common Application, but the prompt isn’t. Throughout high school, students are taught not to stray from the prompt and to ensure that it is directly answered.

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This doesn’t hold true for the Common Application. The prompts are not meant to be restrictive, but instead to be open-ended. Most admissions officers will not even take the time to look at the prompt for the essay they’re reading.
3. Speaking of your essay, make it unique.
Admissions officers read tens if not hundreds of application essays every day, so it’s important to stand out. You should focus on your passion(s), unique qualities, and/or what’s meaningful to you personally. This doesn’t mean that it’s necessary to begin playing the bagpipe or watching Japanese documentaries in an effort to be unique. What’s important is that your essay is genuine, personal, and a good reflection of who you are as a unique individual.
4. Be careful and take your time while filling out the Common App.
Check and re-check your spelling and make sure that all information is correct. A misspelled word or invalid information will reflect badly on you and could influence a college’s decision. This application is one of the most important applications that you will fill out, so it’s essential not to rush through it.

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