Common App Tips For High School Students

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

The Common Application allows high school students, who plan to attend college after earning their high school diploma, to apply to multiple colleges and universities with one app!

Applying to colleges and universities involves a lot of time and effort on the part of prospective students and their parents. Besides finishing strong during the final year of high school, students may also be dealing with the SAT and/or ACT as well as college tours. During times of COVID-19, all this and more may even look a bit different or perhaps more stressful for different students.

What is the Common Application?
The Common App is a college application that is accepted by more than 900 colleges and universities. As a college app tool, the common app streamlines a large part of the admissions process for students

Through the Common App online platform, both first-time and transfer students can apply to multiple colleges at once with just one application. Students will only need to fill out details that most schools require—such as name, address, parental employment, education, etc.—one time and in one place!

When can students begin working on the Common App?
The Common App opens August 1 every year! However, students do not need to wait until this day to get started. At any time throughout the academic school year, students can create an account and transfer information into the new app once it opens.

In order to start, applicants go to and click on the “Apply now” button to receive details and instructions about how to create an account, log in to an account, and work on the application through the online platform. The Common App mobile app even offers deadline reminders to help students stay on track.

Many experts recommend starting college apps early.

 How long does it take to complete the Common App?
The length of time one spends completing the college application through the Common App depends on a school’s requirements. In general, students may need at least six weeks to complete all necessary application components. It may take around two weeks to fill out background information and perhaps a month or more to obtain required documents.

What are the personal statement prompts?
The first-year essay prompts for 2020-2021 are going to be the same seven prompts used for 2019-2020.

The word limit for each personal statement essay is 650 words.

Topics may vary but they usually always ask students to reflect on their experiences and share examples of their personal growth. Students can also share an essay on their topic of choice or describe a topic that interests them.

These essay prompts can be seen on the Common App website.

What should applicants do if they run into problems with the Common App?
Students can always ask high school counselors and admissions officers at universities for questions about filling out the application.

The Common App also provides resources on their online platform to help make the application process easy for students. Check out the Student Solutions Center whenever you have a question!

Does the Common App have fee waivers available?
The Common App is actually free to use and around half of the member colleges and universities do not charge application fees for first-year students.

Any application charges will come directly from the college or university, and not the Common App organization. In order to receive financial aid, students will need to reach out to the schools that they are applying to.

Any crucial tips for filling out the Common App?
Start early! Do not wait until 11:59pm on January 1 to finish the application components. Late is late when it comes to college applications, and it is better not to risk failure to complete the app on time.

Is the Common App absolutely necessary to apply to college?
Students are not required to use the Common App. While it is commonly used, it is not the only application portal that exists.

Many colleges and universities allow students to complete apps through their websites. Some schools only accept apps through their school websites.

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