What is the Common App, and How to Use It For College Admissions? All you need to know! - Filo Blog
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A few years ago, applying to colleges was a tedious task as most had their proprietary application systems in place. Students had to apply for each college individually, which was nothing less than a nightmare for many. Besides being more costly, the process often required students to share the exact details every time while applying to a new college. But that’s history, as the Common Application, popularly known as Common App, has streamlined the complete process, making college admissions so much simpler and more accessible for millions of students.  

The Common App has modernised the admission process, allowing students to apply at multiple colleges in several countries. The app also offers a slew of other benefits to students. 

Most students worldwide now use the Common App for getting admission into the colleges of the US, Canada, China, Japan, and a few European countries. The app saves their time and keeps the physical and mental efforts that go into the admission process at bay. 

Here’s How Common App works: 

Image Credential- Common App

 On the Common App, students, who are applying for the first time, can start by creating their account. They will need to share their personal and academic information on the app to get started.

Here’s a list of some of the essential documents that students need to submit on the Common App: 

  • Official transcripts 
  • SAT or ACT scores 
  • Contact information 
  • Academic honours  
  • Personal essay
  • Information about Extracurricular activities

How to Apply for Colleges Via Common App? 

Once a student has completed the application process, then comes the process of getting into college’s school-specific additional requirements. In this step, students get to know if a particular college requires additional essays or letters of recommendation for the admission process. 

While the standard application created on the Common App works magically without any hiccups in most colleges, some do ask for a few changes in the application to fit it according to the prescribed format. So, get ready to take time out for such special colleges even if you have the common personal statement on the Common App for all colleges.  

Image Credential- Common App

After reviewing the complete admission process for colleges that you’re planning to get into, you need to start preparing for their different requirements. This could include a separate writing test or an essay test, or a letter of recommendation, for that matter. In-depth research is the key here.  

However, you can use the Common App dashboard to meet all the extra requirements of individual colleges. For instance, you can submit an additional essay required for a particular school in addition to the Common App essay directly from the app’s dashboard. This is why Common App is the one-stop solution for all your college admission woes. 

How to Use Common App? 

Common App has several sections that may confuse a first-timer. The app developers, however, have worked hard on the platform to make the interface simpler and smoother to use. 

On the home page, students can see five separate tabs: Dashboard, My Colleges, Common App, College Search and Financial Aid Resources. Here’s how these sections work: 

Image Credential- Common App

1. Dashboard:

On the ‘Dashboard’ tab, students can see the application progress of prospective colleges. They can also see the tasks they have already completed and the ones required to complete the application.  

Image Credential- Common App

2. My Colleges:

Students can go to the My Colleges section to keep a tab of the deadlines, application fees, and other details of the prospective colleges.

3. Common App:

In the section with the same name as the app, students fill out their applications. Personal and academic information updated in this section is used in the applications.  

4. College Search:

Image Credential- Common App

Candidates can use the ‘College Search’ section to search and shortlist colleges on Common App. For adding a school to the list, students just need to click on the blue plus sign.  

5. Financial Aid Resources:

As the name suggests, students can learn how financial aid works. They also get to know how to apply for scholarships and other financial aids to fund their college degrees in the section.  

Common App: Important Dates 

The Common App opens for use for all the impatient students out there starting August 1 each year. So, students can begin submitting their applications to the colleges beginning from August 1. 

However, the app allows students to create an account and update the required details on the app earlier than August 1 to get a head start on the application process. 

The last date for submitting the applications varies from college to college. However, the last date for most schools for accepting applications is usually November 1. Meanwhile, the expected last date for receiving the regular decision applications is January 1. 

Important Events Tentative Last Date 
Start of Application ProcessAugust 1
Deadline for Submitting ApplicationsNovember 1
Deadline for Regular Decision Applications January 1 
Common App: Important Dates 

However, students must note that all the deadlines mentioned above also vary from college to college. That is why it’s necessary to remain updated about each prospective college’s admission-related deadlines. 

Which Colleges Accept the Common App?

Common App is one of the widely accepted application methods in the US and a few other countries. About 1000 colleges and universities accept student applications via Common App.

Here’s a list of the major US universities accepting college applications via Common App:  

  • Arizona State University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • Duke University
  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Princeton University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Yale University

However, Common App isn’t the only platform. For instance, several colleges accepting College App applications also accept applications via the Coalition App or use their own method for the admission process. 

Moreover, a few top universities still don’t accept College App applications. Some of the prominent ones include Georgetown University and the University of California. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Common App: 

Q1. Is Common App paid? How much does College App’s application service cost? 

Common App is a free to use platform and charges no money from students for using its services. However, students have to pay the application processing fee charged by colleges. Students can apply for a few waivers on such charges. 

Q2. What are Common App essays?

Students need to submit at least one essay through the Common App for their applications sent to the colleges. Candidates, however, may have to write additional essays depending on the requirement of a particular college.  

Q3. Can students apply for financial aid via Common App?

Students cannot apply for financial aid via the Common App. However, the app has a section on financial assistance where students can learn the complete process to fund their college. 

Q4. Can students use some other app to get college admissions? 

Although the Common App is the most widely accepted college application system, at least in the US, universities do encourage students to use other methods as well. As mentioned earlier in the blog, a few universities still rely on their system for admissions.  

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