There are few things more stressful for high school seniors than applying for colleges. It’s an experience rife with turmoil and anxiety — not to mention a healthy dose of confusion. The Common Application (usually known as the Common App) was designed to help reduce this turmoil. It offers students and educators a universal program to cut down on the work of filling out perhaps dozens of applications for different universities, and allows them to submit the same basic form to numerous schools. It can be a great resource for overwhelmed students, and an enormous help to harried parents and educators. Here are some important things to know before taking on the Common App.
The Common App Has A Wide Field: The application is accepted by 517 colleges and universities. 47 states across the country have schools that use the Common App. And if your student has international interests, never fear: schools in the United Kingdom, Austria, France, Switzerland, Italy, and Germany also welcome the Common App.
You’ll Still Need To Write: Make no mistake about it — although the Common App seriously reduces the number of essays you have to write, many schools still require supplemental essays. Be sure to read all the guidelines and requirements so you don’t make any mistakes on your application.
Technical Difficulties Still Arise: As useful and exciting as the Common App has proven for students applying to college, there are still technical issues that arise from time to time. One of the most prevalent issues is a server overload; students procrastinate and wait until the last minute to send out their essays. The result is that the servers of the Common App reach maximum capacity, causing a major lag and sometimes even crashing entirely. The trick for this one is simple: don’t wait until the last minute to upload your information (and make sure to back everything up!).
Not Every School Accepts The Common App: Although it’s certainly growing in popularity, with more colleges signing on every year, there are still many major universities that don’t accept the Common App. Check and see what the rules and requirements are for your picks; see how many of them accept the Common App, and then decide if the form is the best plan for you. Some students opt for a mix of schools, alternating between the Common App and those that don’t use the form. This may end up being a bit more work, but in the long run it improves your chances to get into the school of your dreams.
You Can Still Opt For Early Decision: Have your perfect school already picked out? You can still use the Common App to your advantage; the program now offers options for students who choose to do Early Decision. You’ll need to fill out an agreement form (and have your parents and counselors sign it as well); after that (and barring any supplemental essays) you can submit the standard Common Application to your Early Decision school of choice.