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Keep Your Options Open with the Common App

Here’s another timely post by our friends over at NextStepU!

For those of you who have not heard of it, the Common Application is a website that allows students to apply to multiple colleges in one go. The Common App is used by more than 460 colleges and more than 60 public schools. To get the specifics and to look at the list of schools that use the Common App, check out www.commonapp.org.

The point of the Common Application

Although the Common App isn’t for everyone — since some schools (including many state institutions) are not covered — I would still recommend it for anyone applying to more than one college. The site gives you a simple way to organize all your information and ensures that you will be able to apply to as many schools as you want by only filling out one form (minus any special requirements). Instead of having three separate folders/forms for Colleges A, B and C, you can have one saved file that is emailed to Colleges A, B and C. This way, you can spend more time perfecting your one application instead of using the same amount of time to fill out three.

Also, sometimes there is a financial incentive to use the Common App. A couple of schools I applied to waived their application fees if their students utilized the Common App. It’s more convenient for a school to receive electronic forms instead of endless bulky envelopes. Not to mention, you know your application will arrive in seconds. There’s no more worrying about mailing the application by a certain date to meet the postmark deadline. Save time, save energy and save $50? Sounds good to me.

Recent changes to the application

Before you decide to use it, you should know that there have been a few recent changes to the Common App. For example, the site will remind you to send out your high school transcripts on your own. Also, the Common App will inquire whether you have had any college experience in high school (i.e. transferable college credits, APs, college enrichment programs, etc.) and will require you to list it. The site frequently listens to user feedback, so chances are it will keep updating each application year. So don’t be shy about making suggestions. You are their main clientele after all.

To use it or not?

Even with the recent changes, I think that the Common App is a great tool for all high school seniors. Cutting down on multiple applications means that you can make your one form spectacular. And it also means you can apply to as many schools as you want in one sitting. In short, the Common App allows you to keep your options open, which is actually pretty good training for college.


Rachel-headshotThis post was written by Rachel Montpelier, Editorial Assistant at NextStepU.com. Check them out to get all kinds of advice on college and career planning. They’re great!


About NextStepU

NextStepU seeks to help students find the right path after high school. Read articles, search for scholarships, enter to Win Free Tuition and get step-by-step planning to help you find your path to success!

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