Guest Author - Susan D. Bates
The Common Application is an application system that allows prospective undergraduate students to apply to any participating college by completing only one application form. This is a great time saver for students
First-year students and transfer student each have their own applications and supplemental materials. All first-year-student applications and many of transfer-student applications require supplemental forms such as evaluations and essays. Specific supplemental requirements are set by each college. Many of the participating colleges also require applicants to complete an additional application page specific to their college.
While a large number of colleges accept the Common Application, not all colleges do. Applicants can check with individual colleges or visit the Common Application Web site to find out if a college participates.
Colleges who offer the Common Application are members of the Common Application Association. Colleges are eligible to become members of the association if they meet specific criteria such as offer bachelor's degree programs, have tax exempt status according to the IRS criteria, consider subjective information such as essays in admissions decisions, agree not to discriminate against students on the basis of criteria such as ethnicity and evaluate Common Application forms equally to other application forms used by the college.
Applicants can complete the online version of the Common Application or they can download the print version and complete it by hand. Students who choose the print version will have to photocopy their application to be able to send it to multiple colleges.
Students who are applying online must first create an account. Applications will be automatically routed to the selected colleges. Applying online will allows first-year student applicants to submit supplemental forms online as well. Transfer students can complete the application form online; however, supplemental forms for transfer students must be printed and mailed.
Teachers and counselors of first-year student applicants can choose to complete evaluations and other school forms online or by mail regardless of how the applicants submit their forms. After applicants create an online account and enter their high school information, they can select teachers or counselors who will then receive instructions via email explaining how to complete the necessary evaluation forms. Applicants can select which the colleges will receive the specific supplemental forms that have been submitted online. The applicants completing the online applications can also track the start and completion dates of teacher and counselor forms that are completed online.
Busy college applicants should consider using the Common Application if they are applying to multiple schools. The Common Application allows applicants to avoid rewriting the same information for each application by submitting the same application to all colleges that accept it.