Mature teenagers who are going to enter in their graduation, it brings with it a whole lot of unfamiliar responsibilities. Besides discovering their passion and interest to follow into their undergraduate college education, if the students so choose to do, the choice of universities to apply to and then the stupendous application process, it will happen with the help of Common Application Form.
The Common Online Application Form is just like a one-stop-shop like Walmart option to college application – you get access to Undergraduate Applications to more than 800 member colleges in USA, across its majority of states, as well as universities in Canada, China and Europe (64 international institutes).
The Common Application form for admission is maintained by a non-profit organization and is aimed towards not just convenience for students but also to make the process fair and accessible so more students can feel good about their higher-education.
The process has a built-in tool to help students in need of Financial Aid and Scholarships, career counselling, and other resources. It is available for both first-time applicants and for transfer students.
It is estimated that over 3 million students, teachers, and high-school counsellors make use of the Online Common Application Form annually, around the world.
What is Common application form?
The Common Application is an progressive college application that is used to help anticipated college students apply to multiple institutions at once. While you cannot apply to each accredited institution/university by using this single Online Application, you can apply to a large number of UG programs all across the globe.
If you are about to apply to college and you would like to find the most efficient way to improve your ability of getting accepted to more than one school, here is your guide to the Common App.
Which schools are on the Common Application system?
There are few member schools in the list including big names like
- Harvard University
- Boston University
- Stanford University
- Yale University
- Cornell University
- Columbia University
…and many more.
There are also several top universities such as MIT that don’t use the Common App.
Colleges do insist that students apply through only one portal for a term. That is, if a student intends to apply on the university website directly, then that university should not be selected in the Common App, and vice versa. In other words, there is only one application per college from a single student, as is obviously expected.
Let us explore what are the essential parts of a Online Common Application Form.
Common Application Sections
Following are the various sections within the Common College Application Form, in brief.
- Profile Section: As the name suggests, is about details such as name, contact information, citizenship, etc. This needs to be filled in carefully as all future correspondence will be done based on the details provided here.
- Family Section: This section involves description of your family and household.
- Education Section: High-School grades and courses and possibly a copy of your transcript. Keep a copy handy for you to fill this section. Bits like school name, counsellor information, previous schools, gap years, college courses if any, GPA, class rank, etc, are part of Education. The website mentions that it is not necessary to fill in career interests if you are not sure.
- Testing Section: College Entrance tests like ACT or SAT, TOEFL, IELTS, PTE (Read TOEFL vs IELTS vs PTE) for non-English speakers, and subject tests like AP, IB, SAT Subject Tests or A-Level tests go here. These scores are self-reported. You will have to send official scores when available. You can also indicate future test dates if you are yet to take them. Indicating no test related information is assumed to be a complete portfolio in itself, without test scores. International students can report their school leaving scores. For instance, Senior Secondary results in case of Indian students.
- Activities Section: You can list up to 10 activities with a description, under the specified word limit.
- Writing Section: It contains three sub-sections – Personal Essay which generally has suggested prompts within the system to help students understand what is expected in the essay, a Disciplinary History where you can provide explanations for any disciplinary problem in your past, and finally Additional Information where you can choose to share other relevant but not yet presented data.
Besides the above, you will get a chance to self-report your transcripts for all your high-school grades and any other College specific questions or supplements.
Application Fees and Fee Waiver
More than 250 member universities, in the Common Application Universities, don’t require an application fee and this information is clearly mentioned in the college search. However, there is an application fee for the rest.
The good news is that the Common App has a feature whereby students with financial constraints can opt for an Application Fee Waiver, provided they satisfy one of the following:
- Enrolment of student has been held in Federal Free or Reduced Lunch Program
- Annual family income is within a range specified by USDA and Nutrition Service, as being low-income
- Already received or is eligible for a SAT or ACT fee waiver
- Is already enrolled in some form of federal program for low-income families or receives public assistance
- Lives in a subsidized public housing, under foster care, or is homeless
And this application fee waiver has been active in supporting over a million applicants receive over $55 million in waived fees. The students can request for a Common App Fee Waiver in the Profile section mentioned above.
Individual colleges also have possible fee waiver schemes. Financially weak students can also request for a NACAC Application Fee Waiver Form for applying to college. This helps to gain access to financial assistance and free application to colleges.
Where Can You Apply?
The Common Application Form is more than just an Online College Admission Form, it is a medium that can be used to help student's to increase their chances of getting into school without wasting all of their free time filling out multiple applications. In order to use this common application form for admission to Degree College to your advantage, you must want to attend a member college or university. There are currently over 600 members schools that accept the online application from the United States and 14 other countries that include Austria, Canada, France, Korea, Germany, Italy, and China.
The method to fill the common application form is very simple, you need to fill out your application and select the choice for schools you want your application to be submitted to from the list. Keep in mind that the application process will vary in terms of each school, including the fees and the deadlines.
How Do You Create an Account to Start Your Application?
One of the great things about the Common Application form is that you can initiate the process as early as you creating your account. There is no requirement to prepare steps but that will help you set up your profile so that you can start to receive alerts and updates via email. Once you provide basic information, you can select and add schools to your list and also able to browse the specific requirements so that you know what to expect.
Once you added, you can see application requirement varies from one school to another. You can even set up a requirements tracker so that you are prepared to submit everything the admissions council wants to see.
How do you apply to Common App colleges?
To apply to college through the Common Application Form, you have to follow these steps:
1. Create a Common App account.
To get started you need an e-mail address. You'll be prompted to create a account through login and password and also need to answer a few quick questions about who you are (parent, teacher, or counselor) and when you're applying to college.
2. Confirm which of the schools on your list accept the Common Application Form.
As we already said mot all schools accept the Common Application form. You may ask from colleges to fill out their own College Application Form or to use another Common application system like ApplyTexas for Texas colleges.
3. Check out all the admission information for every school.
Do remember that Common App schools can have different testing, writing, essay, and letter of recommendation requirements. Make sure you do your research! You’ll use the same Common College application form but the requirement of admission may vary from school to school.
4. Gather the information you KNOW you’ll need
Gather all the information related to your parent or guardian's educational background and work history, copy of your high school transcript, a list of your extracurriculars, etc as most of the application ask for a copy of your high school transcript.
5. Start working on your application
Dashboard of the Common Admission form will show the list of all colleges and the status of each component of your application. You can pick an essay topic, initiate filling in general information, or you can also ask a teacher for a recommendation letter. There's no college online application task too big or small!
6. Track the status of your application(s)
The icons placed on your Dashboard will guide you in a better way. There are three types of check in an application form - A green means your application has been submitted to that particular college, a yellow circle means your application is still in progress, and a red means that a particular section is not required for admission to that college.
Submit all the material related to application by 11:59pm (in your local time zone) on the deadline date posted in your Common App Dashboard.
List of best online Colleges & Universities
1 – Brigham Young University- Rexburg, Idaho
2 – University of Texas- Arlington, Texas
3 – University of Florida Online - Gainesville, Florida
4 – The University of Texas of the Permian Basin - Odessa, Texas
5 – Peru State College - Peru, Nebraska
6 – Minot State University Minot, North Dakota
7 – Mayville State University - Mayville, North Dakota
8 – Oregon State University - Corvallis, Oregon
9 - Fort Hays State University - Hays, Kansas
10 – Southern New Hampshire Univ - Manchester, New Hampshire
11 – Champlain College- Burlington, Vermont
12 – University of Illinois Chicago - Chicago, Illinois
13 – Dakota State University - Madison, South Dakota
14 – Florida International University - Miami, Florida
15 – University of Massachusetts Amherst - Amherst, Massachusetts
16 – Troy University - Troy, Alabama
17 – Utah State University - Logan, Utah
18 – Eastern New Mexico University - Portales, New Mexico
19 – Metropolitan State University - Saint Paul, Minnesota
20 – Colorado State University - Greenwood Village, Colorado
21 – University of South Dakota - Vermillion, South Dakota
22 – Northern State University - Aberdeen, South Dakota
23 – Chadron State College - Chadron, Nebraska
24 – Saint Leo University - Saint Leo, Florida
25 – University of Nebraska, Omaha Nebraska
Important things to Know about the Common Application
Common Application can be used by around 456 colleges, which is intended to make applying to colleges easier. With the help of the Common App, you easily fill the information about yourself and your family only once.
If you are applying to more than one school, it is easy to only have to fill in such things your coursework, your contact information, extracurricular activities and your parents’ background one time. Every school ask their own supplemental questions into the application so applying to each school will take extra effort.
There are certain issues that students often encounter as below:
1. You can create more than one application.
Through this Common Application System, you can create upto 10 versions of their application, but actually 97% of applicants generate three or fewer applications while 90% of students stick with the original application.
2. You can upload a new essay.
Students can easily update or correct an essay or any other part of the application with the help of an alternate version. On the main instruction page of the student’s account the process is explained. Students should not allow to use alternate versions to tailor essays to individual colleges. That is what the supplements are for.
3. Watch the essay word count.
Applicants are expected to upload the essay upto the specific range i.e. 250-500 words only.
4. Don’t forget to preview.
tudents are advised to preview the application once it completed, which allows them to see exactly what the college will see. Because once they press submit, they cannot allow to retrieve the application and If they discover errors afterward, it’s too late for that application.
5. Make sure your application is really submit.
Don’t be confused between the application, supplement, and payment submissions; they all are three distinct processes. Sometimes students misunderstand this and think that submitting a payment or supplement also submits the application. The student page called My Colleges page will always show the correct status for each submission at each college, but some students fail to check this information and incorrectly assume a college has received an application when in fact it has not.
6. Communicate with your high school counsellor.
Form will not arrive at their destination college if submitting by counsellors, until and unless the student submits a Common App to that college. About 2/3rd of our members accept alternate applications, so it is important for students to communicate with counsellors if they elect not to submit a Common App.
7. Got confused between online and snail mail forms.
Most of the students want to know if they can submit online if their counsellors and teachers elect to mail school forms, and the answer is absolutely yes. They also want to know if the submission sequence matters and the answer is no.
8. If you don’t know, ask.
It’s very simple; if you don’t understand anything, just ask by heading to the Common Application’s Support Center.
9. Fee waiver is given to low-income students for their applications.
All schools that use the Common App accept both the NACAC and College Board fee waivers. As long as students meet the criteria outlines by these organizations, members will accept the waiver. Students indicate their intent to submit a fee waiver in the Payment section of the application. From there, students need to consult with their counsellors, who need to verify eligibility.
10. It’s best not to wait until the last minute to apply.
December 31 is the last day for submission of Common application form and at the same time single busiest day of the year. So don’t wait for last minute submission
Pros & Cons of Common Application Form
While applying for colleges for admission, a term come across is The Common Application Form, or better known as the Common App for admission. There are around 701 colleges and universities accept the Common Application in Canada, the United States, China, and Europe. However, before using the online application process, you should know about few pros and cons about using it to apply to your potential schools.
Pro: The Common Application System Saves You Time
There’s no getting around it: the Common online App is perfect at saving you time. With high school, work, community service, sports, and, of course, applying to colleges, you can always advantageous from something that makes your frantic life just a bit smoother.
The online application form for admission only requires you to fill out the form once and then it is available to send to any of the schools that are a member of the system. If you have no. of schools that accept the Common Application form, that means you need to complete several less forms. Some universities also only accept the Common Application, so make sure to check the application process for every college/university you’re interested in before completing any.
Con: It’s Easy to Overdo It
While over 700 institutions accept the Common Application online, it doesn’t mean you should apply to all of them. It’s easy to forget this though and get caught up in the ease of applying to several schools at once. It’s essential to still do your research and apply to colleges that as per your needs and goals.
On the other side, don’t avoid to colleges that don’t accept the Common Application form to applying for admission just because it may be more difficult or time consuming. If you’re sincerely interested in attending the school, take the time to apply!
Pro: Tracks Important Info
To applying to the colleges, the online common application can help you to track your potential schools’ deadlines and requirements. This could help you complete your overall application, essay, and supplemental documentation, like letters of recommendation, on time. The student’s dashboard provides you with all the information you could need.
However, while these are helpful tools, always cross check the deadline given by schools available on their websites. Not all information will be supplied on the Common App dashboard. You don’t want to submit something late by accident and be disqualified from the application process!
Pro: Schools Won’t Pay Less Attention
Some students worry that the Common Application may actually hurt their chances for acceptance. However, colleges and universities that accept the Common App sign a document stating that they will not favour the traditional, school specific application over other options.
If you’re still concerned though, you can always go the traditional route and save yourself any potential worry.
The Common App is a great tool to save you time during your senior year of high school. However, you should always keep in mind that research is your most important tool. Double check that the schools you want to apply to accept the application, track the deadlines for supplemental materials like essays and letters of recommendation, and only apply to schools that align with your goals. If you can keep on top of everything that needs to be done, the Common Application is definitely worth the time.