Build Your Application

Completing the Common Application

Filling out applications for the countless colleges that you're aiming for can be a mind-numbingly painful and repetitive process. It often seems like you're just repeating the same information over and over again. That's where the Common Application comes in.
The Common Application is a single application for undergraduate college admission, used by a consortium of selective colleges and universities. Students have been using the Common Application for 25 years, and there are currently 230 member colleges and universities, both public and private, that agree to give full consideration to applications submitted on this one common form. Not sure if your target school is one of them? You can find the member list on the Common Application website, commonapp.org.

How Do You Use the Common Application?
There are two different ways of using the form: on paper or online. Using the paper form (available in your guidance office or by downloading from commonapp.org), you complete one Common Application, photocopy it, and send it to any of the member colleges to which you want to apply. Using the electronic version, you may either submit your application via the internet or print it and mail a hard copy.

Do Colleges Prefer Their Own Application?
No. All Common Application member colleges and universities also belong to the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC), which requires that members not discriminate against applicants based on the particular form an applicant uses. Several colleges even use the Common Application as their own form.

Occasionally some colleges require a supplemental form of their own. At commonapp.org you can access supplemental forms to complete online and links to downloadable forms on individual college sites. For further information, including a Common Application in paper form, contact the National Association of Secondary School Principals at 1904 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20190-1537—or call 1-800-253-7746.

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