The Common Application is used by 900+ colleges. Students fill out one main application that will be used for all Common App schools, and then each school typically has a few additional questions. These questions are called the school's Common App Supplement.
Students should allow plenty of time to fill out the Common App since it has about 40 sections, and requires writing.
The Common App officially opens every year on August 1, but students can start an account during the summer prior to their senior year and then roll it over after August 1. Important to know about rollover:
- There may be an offline period at the end of July. Don't be surprised if you cannot log in or experience glitches for a few days.
- Sections that will roll over include: Profile, Family, Education, Testing, Activities, Writing, and Courses & Grades.
- The app will preserve your college list, but any work on the supplements (they would have been last year's supplements) will not roll over.
- For details, see Common App Account Rollover. Be sure you read the detail &/ or watch the video.
When & How to Start the Common App
Anytime in Summer before Senior year
- See if the schools you are applying to use the Common Application. Check online www.commonapp.org > Member Colleges. Right now the list is last year’s but should be updated August 1.
- Start the Common App using a professional email address, not your school address. If you start prior to August 1, fill in no more than the Profile, Family, Education, and Testing portions. When you sign into the Common App on August 1 or later, your account can rollover into a current account. There may be a blackout period at the end of July.
- Look up the Common App Requirements Grid (from 2019-2020) to get an idea of the variations among schools. Look up each school and see if it: requires the personal essay and if it has a writing supplement, which will be listed as Questions under each college under the My Colleges tab. Also look at the types of deadlines. Realize, however, that some of these details may change after August 1 when the application, with all of the updated supplements, officially opens.
- ‘Like’ Common Application on FB; commonapp on Instagram; follow @CommonApp on Twitter.
- If you start the app early, only fill out the general sections: Profile, Family, Education, and Testing but do not fill in the counselor information in the Education section. Questions in the other sections could change and/ or your information could be lost in the rollover.
August 1 or later
- Create or roll over your account at www.commonapp.org.
- Under the Common App tab, start filling in informational sections except the counselor information in the Educational section. Counselor allocations may change early in the school year, so you could have a different counselor than before.
- Under the College Search tab, add colleges to your list.
- Look up individual college supplements and writing requirements. Some of these may be available before 8/1 and some will not. Many schools have several short essays. Complete any optional essays (they’re not really optional!).
- Complete the FERPA Waiver under My Colleges tab. The section is called Recommenders and FERPA. Check the boxes and provide your electronic signature for the FERPA. Important: Ignore the Recommenders section. You will request letters of recommendation through Naviance, and then only after school starts and the teachers have said yes.
In September/ October/ November of your Senior Year (adjust according to your deadlines)
- Fill in the counselor information in the Education section of the Common App tab according to the new Shorewood counselor allocations.
- Match the Common App and Naviance. You do this through Naviance.
- Paste your essays into the appropriate spots. Be absolutely certain that you paste the correct essay into the correct slot.
- Complete any remaining parts of the application. Use the Dashboard tab and make sure that all sections have green checkmarks. It is easy to miss parts of this complex application, so be thorough.
Courses & Grades (C&G) Section
Not all students will need to fill out this section. If you are applying to one of the 31 member colleges that use this section, you will fill in your own classes and grades from grades 9 - 11 as well as input what classes you are taking senior year. A few of the colleges that use C&G:
- Arizona State Universtiy
- Chapman University
- The Evergreen State College
- Loyola Marymount University
- Purdue University
Common App Overview
FERPA & The Common App
FERPA is what allows us the Common App and Shorewood to send materials on your behalf. You are also asked to waive your right to see each item that we send on your behalf. This ensures the integrity of the materials. Most colleges will not look at items unless you have waived your right to see each item.
Download: FERPA & The Common App