View Common App Quick Guide Fall 2022 for examples detailing how to fill out Shorewood and Running Start classes in the "Current Year Coursework" section.
View Common App 9.22.2022 for a detailed overall guide to the application. This is from our How-To session in the Fall of 2022, and has advice as well as information.
The Common Application is used by 900+ colleges, including UW Seattle and UW Bothell, which joined in Summer 2022. 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 most colleges require the main essay and additional 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 starting the Common App, college supplements, and the rollover process:
- If you begin the Common App before August 1 leading into your senior year, only fill out the general sections (Profile, Family, Education, Testing, Activities, Writing, and Courses & Grades), not the college-specific questions.
- Most colleges will post their supplements/ questions on August 1, but some--like UW Seattle and UW Bothell--may wait until September 1.
- Every year, the Common App "rolls over" in the summer before the new application opens on August 1.
- 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.
- Start the Common App using a professional email address, not your school email 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 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 most of the updated supplements, officially opens.
- Some colleges, like UW Seattle, will not post their new supplements until September 1.
- ‘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, which change every school year.
- Match the Common App and Naviance. Here's a how-to video: Match Common App & Naviance
- Paste your essays into the appropriate spots on the Common App. Most colleges require both a main essay for the Writing section and at least one supplementary essay in the Questions that are under individual colleges in the My Colleges tab. 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 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. Use the guide linked above for directions. A few of the colleges that use C&G:
- Arizona State Universtiy
- Chapman University
- The Evergreen State College
- Loyola Marymount University
- Purdue University
- University of Washington Seattle (anticipated; UW has relied on student-reported courses and grades for several years, and is one of the few colleges that use this self-reported information instead of transcripts)
Common App Overview
AXS Companion Common App Tutorial
New fall 2022. This excellent tutorial will walk you through the application section by section. Informative videos will give you helpful tips and great advice.
How to Write Your Common App Activities Section
Great advice from the College Essay Guy.
Guide to the Common App Additional Information Section
Excellent ideas from The College Essay Guy. Basically, be brief and to the point.
Common App Official Videos
Various videos available: recorded walkthrough of the entire application, tips on particular sections.
Common App Guide
If you want explanations of the interface and each section, try this guide.
How Common App Works
One-page explanation of how the application works.
Common App Dictionary
Wondering what all the terms mean? Use this handy dictionary to help.
Short Guide to Common App
Provides a basic overview of what is asked on the application. Please note that this document does not reflect the level of detail or the latest updates to the application.
Guide to Common App Activity List
By Signet Education
How to Make Your Common App Less Common
An extensive guide with detailed section-by-section advice. Produced by CollegeWise.
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