College and University Blog

9 Common Questions about the Common Application

Soon-to-be high school seniors planning to attend college next fall can now take advantage of the Common Application online. The 2012 Common App for the 2012-13 academic year recently made its much-awaited online debut four hours ahead of its scheduled August 1, 2012 launch. Not sure what the fuss is all about? Read on for helpful answers to some of the most frequent Common App questions.

1. What is the Common Application?

The Common Application, generally dubbed the Common App, is a standardized college admissions application that applicants can use to apply to different colleges and universities in the United States as well as other countries. Students who fill out the Common Application can submit it to multiple colleges and universities, making their college application process much easier than it would have been in years past.

2. Is it new? How long has it been around?

If you’re feeling slightly reluctant to fill out the Common Application—hey, applying to college is a big deal, we understand!— you can rest assured that it’s not some fly-by-night development. The Common Application, Inc., a not-for-profit membership association, was founded in 1975 by 15 private colleges that had the desire to provide a standardized first-year college application for use by any of the member institutions. Initially an application for freshman and first-year college students only, the Common App now provides applications for transfer students as well.

3. How many schools use it?

Membership in the Common Application’s association has grown steadily in the 38 years after its establishment. The Common App is currently accepted by nearly 500 public and private colleges and universities that range drastically in size and selectivity. Search here to find out if your prospective colleges accept the Common Application. Last year, approximately 2.5 million applications were filled out through the Common App Online. Some colleges and universities require applicants to turn in supplemental school-specific forms in addition to the main Common App.

4. Do I have to submit the Common App online?

We’re living in a digital age thanks to computers, the Internet, and constantly advancing technology, but some people would still prefer to fill out a hard copy college application and submit it by snail mail. However, the preferred method of applying to college with the Common App is online, as it is more secure and saves time, but you can download a PDF to fill out and mail in.

5. Do my teachers still have to write letters of recommendation about me?

Most colleges and universities require a variety of information about applicants that comes from your teachers and/or high school guidance counselors. In the past, these supplemental forms were only available as PDF files that your school officials could print and mail to the appropriate colleges. To simplify the process, each teacher and counselor now has the option to complete these forms online via the Common App Online School Forms system but paper versions are still accepted.

6. Do I still have to write a college application essay?

Yes, you do. You will have your choice of essay questions to answer. If applying to more than one college, submit the same essay to all of them. If a school has its own customized essay questions that differ from the main Common App essay questions, they will be requested on a supplemental form.

7. Is it free?

While there are no extra charges to apply to college using the Common Application, some schools charge application fees while others do not. This varies by institution. Find application fees here. Low income students may be eligible for application fee waivers.

8. What if I have problems filling out the Common App?

If you have additional questions or run into tech issues while completing the Common App, visit the Applicant Support Center where you can search FAQs for help or send a detailed email to the Support Team. If your teachers or guidance counselor is having problems, they can visit the School Official Support Center.

Image Source:

Related Posts:

Cheating in College Application Essays

The College Application Process: What You Need To Know

College and University Application Strategies – How to Apply to the College of your Dreams


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.