The Common App: What Every Student Should Know

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Well folks, it’s official. Halloween has come and gone, and it’s now time to buckle down and focus on the most important assignment of your life: applying to college. If you’re anything like the average student, you probably haven’t even thought about your applications yet. But that’s okay! Rather than filling out tons of applications to a zillion different colleges and universities, the Common Application (or Common App) can save students a lot of time and hard work.

What is the Common App? The Common App is a standardized, online college application accepted by over 500 public and private colleges and universities in the United States and abroad.  It is free for all first year and transfer students. It provides students the opportunity to fill out one application to send to each member school they wish to apply, rather than filling out an application for each different school.

The Benefits of Using the Common App: The Common App offers several benefits to students looking to apply to college for the first time or transfer to a different school.

  • It’s free: There is no fee to use the Common App. The only cost to students is the application fee that each university charges. So for example, if a student wishes to apply to The University of Kentucky, Kalamazoo College and Yale University, they would simply fill out the Common App once, and then pay each schools application fee through the Common App website.
  • It saves time: Rather than filling out a different application for each school you might want to attend- which, trust me, is NOT fun- students simply fill out one application and select which member schools they want it sent to!
  • Everyone’s using it: Cliché I know, but it’s true! Over 1 million college admissions are processed using the Common App each year. So if you have questions, it’s almost guaranteed that your high school counselor or college advisor will be able to help you out. In fact, some schools now only accept the Common App.

The Disadvantages of Using the Common App: No application process is perfect and the Common App is no exception.

  • Online vs. Paper: There is no longer a paper version of the Common Application. Although most people nowadays have access to the Internet, some do not, and the fact that the Common App is now all digital could cause an issue for some students.
  • Membership is selective: In order to become a member school, colleges and universities must apply. Because of this, there will most likely be one or two schools you wish to apply to that are not members.

The Common App may not be for everyone, but it is definitely a resource worth knowing about. Have you or someone you know ever used it before? Tell us about it in the comments section below!

Lindsay Lush

About Lindsay Lush

Lindsay is a junior at the University of Kentucky majoring in Integrated Strategic Communications and Spanish. She is currently an online marketing intern for eCampus.com. When she’s not busy with school and work (aka about once every 6 months) she loves traveling, cooking, spending time outdoors with friends and cheering on the UK Wildcats.