6 Frequent Questions Students Have About the Common App
As the school year winds down, many students are thinking about how to use the summer to stay academically sharp and get ahead with their college prep. For rising seniors applying to college this fall, that can mean working on the Common Application.
The Common App is an online college application platform used by hundreds of universities in the US, UK, and Canada. If you’re a little bit unclear on how it works, you’re not alone. Keep reading to receive answers to some of your most pressing Common App questions, so that you will feel prepared to start filling it out in no time.
What kind of information do I need to fill out?
The main Common Application requires students to submit basic information about themselves and their high school experience. This includes answering questions about name, address, birth date, and education for both the student and parents and siblings. Students are also asked about their high school courses and standardized testing. Following these questions is an essay, also known as the personal statement.
What is the personal statement?
The main Common App essay is 250-650 words long and must answer one of the prompts provided. The prompts may change from year to year, although the 2019-2020 choices remain the same from the prior year. Most prompts focus on personal growth and self-discovery and may ask students to discuss personal accomplishments, setbacks, and causes that matter to them.
Is the personal statement the only essay I will need to write?
This answers depends on the requirements of the schools you are applying to. Many colleges have their own supplemental essays, which students will need to fill out in addition to their personal statement. These essay prompts vary greatly depending on the college a student is applying to and may include quirky questions about favorite snack foods or theme songs. Additionally, many colleges include a question that encourages students to express their interest in and knowledge of a specific institution, which can be a great opportunity to demonstrate your research skills and passion for a school.
How many schools can I apply to?
Once a student sets up their Common App account, they will be prompted to add colleges to their list within the application. A “College Search” feature allows students to look up and select specific institutions. Students can add up to 20 universities to their My Colleges list.
Why choose the Common App?
The Common App can be a great time-saver, as it eliminates the redundancy of filling out the same basic information for each school. Many institutions only accept the Common App, so be sure to search the application policies for each school on your list of best fit colleges. For most high school students, the Common App is a tool that will enable them to apply to multiple schools, while also tailoring each application to a specific college through the school’s supplemental essays. The Common App also makes it easier for counselors and teachers to submit letters of recommendation, which can be directly uploaded to a student’s application.
Are there other options besides the Common App?
The Coalition App is the most widespread centralized universal application alternative to the Common App. The Coalition App counts over 140 colleges as members, in contrast to the approximately 800 schools that utilize the Common App. There is also the Universal App, which is used by less than 20 schools.
In addition to internships, jobs, or any other summer activities on your agenda, it’s important to pencil in time to prepare for the college application process. If you are looking for guidance throughout application season, our team of expert college admissions counselors can help guide you through every step of the process.