5 Things Every College Hopeful Needs to Know About the Common App

The Common App is a one-stop profile that combines all of your education and achievements in one place, so you can apply to multiple colleges all at once.

Over 750 colleges and universities — from small private institutions to big state schools — use it.

Basically: you used to have to apply over and over again to each college you applied to. Now, it can be done with one simple tool.

WATCH: Wyzant<5

Wyzant Under Five is a video series featuring tutors on Wyzant doing what tutors do best: fitting a ton of learning into a short time!

We challenged tutor Khaoula B. to tell us the five things every college hopeful needs to know about The Common App. Watch it below, and check out all the other videos in Wyzant<5.

First Off…What is the Common Application? 

It’s an advanced college application that’s used to help prospective college students apply to multiple institutions at once.

From the Common App’s site: “Used by more than three million applicants, teachers, and counselors across the United States and around the world each year, the Common App platform streamlines the college application process for students. In addition to providing a single, online application and 24/7/365 support for students applying to more than 900 member colleges and universities, Common App connects applicants to financial aid and scholarship information, virtual fairs, online portfolios, and a vast library of counselor resources available in English and Spanish.”

While you cannot apply to every single accredited institution by using this single online application, you can apply to a large number of undergraduate programs all across the world.

If you’re applying for college in 2020-2021 you’ll also have access to more than 40 additional diverse colleges and universities through Common App’s online application.

You can access it anytime by heading to commonapp.org.

If You’re Applying for College Using the Common App, Here Are Some Important Dates to Add to Your Calendar

For the spring 2021 term, the Common App opens on January 11, and closes in May

For the fall 2021 term, it’s open from August 23 to December 18.

Remember this: with these applications, the earlier you submit, the better off you are. 

What Colleges Use the Common App? 

Tons of them! Hundreds of colleges use the Common App, in the US and abroad.

All eight Ivy League schools – Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale – use the Common App for admissions.

Many other highly selective schools, like Stanford, the University of Chicago, Caltech, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and Rice.

Most aspiring students are able to apply to all of the colleges on their list through their Common App profile, with a few exceptions for schools that use their own portals.

Here’s What You’ll Need in Order to Begin Applying with The Common App

The main piece of paperwork needed will be a transcript. That can be a high school or college version (if you’re a transfer student).

Additionally, you should know the dates and scores for all the standardized tests you took in preparation for college, such as the SAT and ACT.

You’ll probably need a few other things, particularly your:

  • recommendation letters
  • standardized test scores
  • personal statement/essay
  • and application fees (unless you are eligible for a fee waiver)

Here’s how CommonApp.org explains the application process:

The process of applying for colleges is pretty time-consuming, so set aside plenty of time for completing your profile and applications. 

It also helps to have a school list at this point in your application process, but you can always add or remove schools as you go.

When You’re Using The Common App to Apply for College, Be Sure You Understand Each School’s Requirements 

Once you have a profile completed with information about yourself and your education thus far, you’ll need to make sure you’re aware of deadlines.

Some include deadlines for Merit Scholarships or Early Decision, which are earlier than the usual dates for admissions.

Different schools and programs have different requirements regarding extra essays or explanations they may want as part of your application package, so it’s really important to keep track of those details too.

Many college counselors and tutors suggest using checklists for their pending requirements. Give that a try to stay organized when you’re applying with the Common App. 

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To learn more, visit commonapp.org, and follow @CommonApp and #CommonApp on social media.

Now that you know these five things ​every​ college hopeful should know about the Common App, get help with your college application, and check out all the other videos in Wyzant<5.

Good luck!

Wyzant is not affiliated with Common App. Common App logo and other images © Common App

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