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What Is the Common Application?

Students have probably heard about the Common Application before, but what exactly is it? And should you be using it for college? Our experts have the answer.

Sara LindbergSara Lindberg
Freelance Writer
Former High School Counselor
Think of the Common Application as the college version of “one-stop shopping.” With one account, you can upload and save application materials, demographic data, and even letters of recommendation to send to multiple schools when it comes to apply. There are more than 800 colleges and universities that use the Common Application, including some outside the United States. You can create an account at any time, but the actual application doesn’t open until August 1 each year. The Common App is free to set up and use; however, at least half of the participating colleges do charge an application fee to apply. In addition to demographic data, academic and extracurricular information, and test scores, the Common Application also has seven essay prompts. You will choose one to include in your application materials to use for all of your colleges. Some schools also require supplemental questions, so make sure to check all the requirements for each one. If a college you’re applying to uses the Common Application, you can just go into your online account and add that school to your list. Be aware that application deadlines vary by school, and make sure you visit your account often and update as needed.

For a more comprehensive understanding, check out Sara Lindberg’s full article on how to fill out the Common Application.

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