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What exactly is the common app?

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As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to th experts. Here are their answers.

Ekman-Baur, Director of College Counseling, Leysin American School

The Common Application is an undergraduate college admission application, sometimes referred to as the “Common App”. Students may use the Common Application to apply to any of the organization’s member institutions, over 450 colleges/universities in the United States and several other countries. In addition to the Common Application for First-Year Admission, there is also a Common Application for Transfer Admission. Institutions accepting the Common Application may additionally require a “Common Application Supplement,” which asks further questions or requests essays which are specific to that college/university. International students are asked to submit the “International Supplement”, which deals with information relevant to the student’s international status. One advantage to using the Common Application is that a student may apply to an array of institutions while only having to fill out the one application form (with any required supplements). The application includes objective criteria, such as grades, class rank, and standardized testing, as well as subjective areas – essays and guidance counselor and teacher recommendations. The Common Application may be filled out online and submitted at one time to all of the institutions to which a student is applying, with each school receiving the same information. Once the application has been submitted to colleges/universities online, the information which has been sent cannot be changed for those institutions, so proofread carefully before clicking “Submit”. If a student wishes to correct a mistake or to provide more information after the application has been sent, each of the relevant colleges must be contacted directly. Other components of a student’s application, such as supplements, payments, and additional school forms, may also be submitted and tracked through the online system.

Ekman-Baur, Director of College Counseling, Leysin American School

The common app, which can be found at www.commonapp.org, is one basic application that can be used to apply to hundreds of colleges accross the country. It allows a student to apply to a variety of schools without having to input the same basic information over and over. it also allows teachers and counselors to input letters of recommendation one time for all the schools without having to mail them separately. Many of these schools will also have a supplement portion, which will have either an extra essay (or two or three) and short answers to get more personalized information from you. Some of these supplements take nearly as long as the common application to complete, but this is not the norm. As more and more schools decide to use the common app, students are finding that they have the time to apply to a wider variety of schools, and having options to choose from can help students make a better decision about where to enroll.

Conley College, Admission Expert, VentureForth

The CommonApp is the easy way to submit your credentials to some 500 or so colleges and universities. Used by the vast majority of the highest ranked colleges and universities, the CommonApp provides a one-stop portal wherein students can upload the very important application essay and if one chooses a resume. In addition, there exist the means for students by invitation to have guidance counselors and teachers upload their applications. In many cases colleges offer a waived application fee to those who submit via this portal. The CommonApp is also a website, so I encourage students to use cut and paste software so as to proof, review and insure their responses correspond to the supplements, and other arenas word or character limits. Because of the CommonApp, many more students apply to college finding the one-stop process inviting. However, be warned that users should employ consistency in the names, dates and passwords used. It is NEVER wise to create two CommonApps. Ease and insight characterize the approach one should apply using this application site. Also, check before creating your portal access and not every college participates in their site.


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