How to Fill out the Common Application for College

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Choosing a college is a consuming and difficult task that begins long before high school seniors start filing out their applications. A development that offers would-be college students a small respite from the process is the Common Application, accepted by more than 345 member schools. Using the Common App enables students to fill out the bulk of their application online and submit a single form to several schools. While member schools may require supplements, the overall picture is much simpler with the Common App.

Things You'll Need

  • High school transcripts
  • Standardized test scores
  • Recommendations
  • High school guidance counselor contact Info
  • Essay
  • Payment
  • Gather your high school transcripts; test scores (e.g., SAT, ACT, SAT II, AP, TOEFL) and dates taken; information on your extracurricular activities and work experience; your teacher recommendations, and the contact information for your high school counselor.

  • Write your college essay based on the prompts from the Common App in a given year, or use the "topic of your choice" category.

  • Choose the colleges to which you intend to apply. Determine if they accept the Common App either by asking the institution or checking the Common App member website (see Resources below).

  • Go to the Common App website log-in site and register as a user by filling in all required fields.

  • Log in and enter the colleges to which you will be applying. The Common App will break down the application based on your school choices, indicating relevant dates and requirements applicable to your individual schools.

  • Choose a single college and answer questions regarding applying for early admission, financial aid and on-campus housing. Also choose a school within the college and your interests in majors and future career focus.

  • Follow the menu-driven pages through each of the sections. Click on "Save" and "Next," each time you advance to the next page. If you stop and return to the form, your application will be saved from the point at which you stopped.

  • Click on "Supplements" to determine which colleges require additional information and what that information is.

  • Print out a copy of the application and review all the information you have provided before submitting.

  • Submit the application once you have certified the accuracy and honesty of the entire form on the certification page by clicking on "Submit."

  • Click on "Payment" and fill in your credit card information to pay online. The application fees for each school are provided.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once you hit "Submit" your application cannot be altered. Submit only after you have checked and rechecked your work.
  • While using the Common App enables you to submit to several colleges at once, you still must honor the schools' individual deadline, supplement and payment requirements.
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