Posts Tagged ‘Common App’

College Admissions: Navigating the Common Application

During the college admissions process, it’s wise to be able to navigate the Common Application (  A good number of the colleges that you’re applying to could accept the Common App, so using it instead of filling out a school’s individual application could save you time and effort.  And when you’re almost certainly stressed out preparing for your SAT, writing your college essays, and gathering letters of recommendation—why wouldn’t you want to save some time and energy? Here are some basic, but useful things you’ll need to know when getting started with your Common Application:

  • General Information: What may seem like the easy part of the application is, in fact, quite simple if you can answer certain questions about yourself and your family. The “Applicant,” “Demographics,” and “Family” sections of the Common App ask some basic information of you. What’s your name? Your address? Are you a US citizen? What are your parents’ names? If you can answer these questions easily, which hopefully the majority of you can, you won’t have much of a problem getting through this first part of the Common Application.
  • Academics: Seeing that you’re in school and applying to college, filling out this portion of the Common App also shouldn’t be too complicated, but there are a few things you should be sure to know before taking it on. The first, is some basic information about your guidance counselor—you will need his or her name and contact information. At this point you’ve probably made your way to the Guidance Office a few times, seeking assistance in the college application process, but in case you don’t have this information, make sure to find it out for before filling out your Common App. You’ll also need to know all the courses in which you’re currently enrolled, and any academic honors or distinctions you’ve received throughout high school.
  • Tests: It’s  college application season, so be sure to know all your standardized test information. Which standardized tests scores will you be submitting to colleges: your SAT scores, your ACT scores, your SAT Subject Test scores (SAT IIs), all of the above? For whatever tests you’ve taken with scores you plan to submit, make sure to: know when you took each test (month/year), and what your scores were (for the SAT and ACT, you’ll need to know the scores for each section as well as your overall score).
  • Activity Resume: A portion of the Common App involves detailing the activities and work experience that you’ve been involved in throughout high school.  The list provided allows you to add up to 7 extracurricular activities. You’ll need to briefly describe your involvement in each activity, list the grades in which you participated, and include the time spent on the activity (in terms of hours per week & weeks per year). Your work experience is to be entered in a separate chart. To successfully enter this information, you’ll need to list the specific nature of the work, your employer, the approximate dates of employment (month/year-month/year), and the number of hours per week working
  • Writing: The writing portion of the Common App is two-part. The first question requires a brief response (of no more than 150 words), and asks you to elaborate on one of your extracurricular, personal, or work activities. You have some options when it comes to choosing the longer essay topic. Some of these options include writing about a significant life experience, an issue of concern or importance to you, a person that has had a significant influence on you, or choosing a topic of your choice.  Because you do have a wide range of options, make sure you choose a subject matter that is meaningful to you; the essay, after all, is your chance to express yourself to admissions counselors.

Good luck getting through your Common Application, and on your college application journey!

If you found this entry helpful, be sure to explore Vocab Videos for standardized test prep and other useful tips!