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navigating the common application

Understanding the Common Application

The Common Application is a standardized college application that over 1,000 schools accept. It allows you to apply to multiple colleges at once, streamlining the process. Here's what you should know:

  • The Common App includes sections for personal information, academic history, extracurricular activities, and essays.

  • You can add up to 20 schools to your Common App list.

  • Some colleges may have additional supplement questions in addition to the Common App.

  • It can be used for both incoming freshmen as well as transfer students.



Components of the Common Application

The Common Application consists of various components that you need to complete to apply to college.


These include personal information, academic history, extracurricular activities, and essay questions. You must also provide information about your family, your education, and any standardized test scores. Make sure to prepare all these details before starting your application to make the process smoother.


Tips for Completing the Common Application

Completing the Common Application can be a daunting task, but with some helpful tips, you can navigate through it smoothly. Here are a few pointers to assist you:

  • Start early to avoid rushing through the application process.

  • Be sure to review all instructions carefully before you begin.

  • Take your time filling out each section to ensure accuracy.

  • Proofread your application before submitting to catch any errors.

  • If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to the Common Application helpline for assistance.


Providing Strong Personal Information

Admissions departments don't get many opportunities to see who you really are, past the numbers and the recommendations. Make sure to provide details that showcase your personality, goals, and experiences.


Mention your passions, achievements, and any challenges you've faced. Be authentic and use specific examples to make your application stand out. Remember, your personal information helps the admissions committee understand who you are beyond your grades and test scores.


Requesting and Submitting Recommendations

When asking for recommendations on the Common App, make sure to choose people who know you well and can speak positively about your abilities. It's essential to give your recommenders plenty of time to write your recommendation, so ask them early. Once they submit it, you won't be able to see what they wrote, so trust in their judgment. Make sure to thank them for their effort and support in helping you through this process.


Handling the Activities Section

The Activities Section on the Common App is crucial for showcasing your interests and involvement outside of academics. Here you can list extracurricular activities, volunteer work, internships, and jobs. Make sure to provide a brief description of each activity and highlight any leadership roles or accomplishments.


Admissions officers want to see your passions and how you contribute to your community. Use this section to stand out and paint a picture of who you are beyond just your grades.


Writing the Application Essays

When writing the application essays for the Common Application, focus on showcasing your unique qualities and experiences. This is your chance to let admissions officers get to know you beyond your grades and test scores. Be authentic and honest in your writing, and make sure to address the prompts provided by the Common App. Avoid cliches and generic answers; instead, use specific examples to illustrate your points. Proofread your essays carefully to catch any errors or typos. Your essays should reflect your personality and what makes you a good fit for the colleges you are applying to.


Common Mistakes to Avoid

When filling out your Common Application, make sure to avoid these common mistakes:

  • Missing deadlines can seriously harm your chances.

  • Forgetting to proofread your application can lead to easily avoidable errors.

  • Providing inaccurate or incomplete information may result in delays or even rejections.

  • Neglecting to seek feedback from teachers, counselors, or parents can prevent you from making necessary improvements.


Finalizing and Submitting the Common Application

Make sure all sections are complete and accurate before hitting submit. Once you submit the Common Application, it goes directly to the colleges you selected. Double-check and re-check your information for any errors. Remember, once you submit the Common App, you can't make any changes to the main part of the application, so be certain everything is correct.

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