Last Updated: May 03, 2022
What is a Common Application Essay?
The Common Application is an organization that offers a streamlined form of applying to colleges. Students who wish to enroll in colleges or universities of their choice will be able to use this platform to begin assimilating their required documents and other information by saving it all in one place before applying to the respective institutions. Since this application is provided online, all that a student will have to do is create an account on their official website and focus on getting admission to their desired institution.
There are over 900 colleges that are active members of this organization which is more than that for both universal application and coalition application though their popularity is on the rise too. The application form that a candidate has to fill out as the common application will require them to write an essay relating to one of the prompts that are provided. These prompts will be different from year to year but the flexibility in approaching the prompts can make writing the essay a fruitful experience.
Benefits of Common Application
Students who are planning to apply to multiple universities will find that the application process is similar for most universities and colleges. Filling out each application form can be time-consuming especially when it comes to basic information regarding the candidate and their academic background. A few of the benefits they get while using the common application include-
- Common application allows students to enter common college application questions that universities might have at one go. Students will not have to fill in basic information regarding themselves for every university individually.
- Since there are over 900 universities and colleges as members of the common application, candidates will have a single platform where they can save and provide information.
- Instead of writing different essays for every single institution one is applying to, candidates will be able to choose from one of the essay prompts provided by the common application and write on it which can be submitted to all institutions.
- Choosing common application over coalition application and universal application can be highly beneficial to candidates since this organization has the maximum number of institutions registered as active members.
- Candidates who choose the common application over sending individual applications to universities will be able to begin the application process way before the admission cycle begins. They will be able to store their information in the account and use it to apply to institutions when required.
Deadlines for Common Application
The common application focuses on university admission deadlines and hence it will have separate dates for both early decision and regular decision applications. At the same time, an updated version of the app is launched every year on August 1st after which students will be able to begin their admission process. Those who have already created an account before their academic application session begins will be able to transfer their details when the common app goes live thereby saving enough and more time. This will also allow students to focus more on their essays and other unique details rather than wasting time filling out the application.
The early decision deadline provided by the common app is generally on November 1st whereas that of the regular decision is generally on January 1st. The deadlines for different institutions will be those that are set by the institutions themselves and students will have to keep track of the deadlines mentioned by the universities they are applying to.
Cost of Common Application
The common application is a non-profit organization that does not charge students a fee for using their services. Candidates will be able to create an account and apply to their desired universities for no charge though they will have to pay the application processing fee demanded by the universities themselves. This fee can range anywhere between $30 to $70 per institution. Candidates who are eligible for a fee waiver will be able to apply for the same using the common application.
Who Can Use Common Application?
The common application has over 900 educational institutions as active members and students who wish to apply to any of these institutions will be able to make use of this platform. Both domestic and international students will be able to use this platform with the difference in having to answer additional questions on citizenship and residency. The fee that international students will have to pay based on the institution will also be relatively higher.
How to Apply Using Common Application?
Candidates who wish to apply to universities using the common application will have to create an account on their official website. By visiting the commonapp.org site, they will be able to proceed with the "Start your Application" link that contains all information relating to using the common application. They will also be able to download the mobile app for the common app.
To create the account, they will have to provide details including their name, enrolment year, age, etc. Once the candidate has created an account on the website, they will be able to fill in their basic information including their academic profile and household information that can be useful while applying for financial aid. Students will be able to add documents that support their statements. They will also be able to add details of their teachers and mentors as collaborators within the platform.
Once all the details have been filled in, candidates will be able to choose their respective institutions from the “My Colleges” list on the website. They will be able to view the respective deadlines and other details regarding the institutions they have chosen in the “Dashboard” of the profile.
Sections of the Common Application
The common application has four sections which will be visible on the right side of the screen while logging into one’s profile. Each of these sections will have a certain set of information that has been organized for the candidate’s benefit. The sections are-
- Dashboard- This is the section that provides a summary of the activities one will need while using the application. It will contain details regarding the institutions the candidate has chosen along with the deadlines of each institution. It will also contain the progress of the submitted applications and details regarding the supplementary requirements for the chosen institutions that ought to be fulfilled on time.
- My Colleges- This section provides details regarding the institutions the candidate has chosen. Candidates will be able to submit the supplementary requirements of these institutions in this section which will include supplementary essays.
- Common App- This section is the main body of the application where students will have to enter all their basic information along with the academic information required for applying to college. Candidates will be able to upload documents like letters of recommendation, transcripts, etc. in this section.
Colleges Accepting Common Application
Around 979 colleges accept the common application making it the most popular college application system. Ivy League universities and other public institutions along with certain private institutions accept this platform and some of them will have proprietary applications or might also accept other college application platforms depending on the institution. A few of the institutions that accept the common application include-
- Princeton University
- Duke University
- Northwestern University
- Columbia University
- Amherst College
- California Institute of Technology
- Rice University
- Emory University
- Boston College
- The Ohio State University
- Florida State University
Ideal Length of a Common Application Essay
The common application provides a recommended word count ranging between 250 to 650 for their essay which is quite short when compared to the coalition application essay which does not have a word limit. But at the same time, it is expected of students to write only about what is absolutely necessary and hence an ideal length for the essay would be 500 words according to experts.
While most colleges that are active members in the common application will require only the common application essay, some institutions might require candidates to submit an additional essay based on the topic provided by the institution. This topic is entirely dependent on the institution and the word limit will also be set by the same institution. In such cases, candidates will have to confirm whether it is compulsory to submit a supplementary essay and write it according to the requirements stated. This will have to be submitted in addition to the common application essay.
Common Application Essay Prompts for 2022-2023
One of the best parts about the common application essay lies in the flexibility the organization offers in working on the prompts. The prompts, according to the organization, ought not to be taken as topics. Candidates are under no obligation to stick only to the focal point of the prompt but they are free to diverge into any perspective of the prompt that can help them tell their story. The prompts that are provided change from year to year. The prompts for the academic year 2022-2023 are the same as the ones offered in 2021-2022 due to the pandemic with only one additional question. These prompts are-
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Choosing a Common Application Essay Prompt
The common application releases 6 to 7 prompts every year when they begin their application process which is mostly on August 1. Candidates will be able to choose from any of these prompts and since these prompts are personal, they will be able to deviate a little from the prompt provided. The organization suggests that candidates should not consider the prompts to be set topics that one cannot deviate from.
Tips to Write the Best Common Application Essay
The common application essay has to be written based on the prompts that are released every year. These prompts are generally informal with questions relating to the experiences and beliefs that candidates have. Candidates will be able to personalize the essay completely and write with an air that lets the admission officers understand them better. The tips for writing a good essay are as follows-
- Candidates should never attempt to submit the first essay they have written. Beginning with a first draft that is written in freehand and eventually trimming them to include only the essential points will be the best approach to writing the essay.
- The essay should be completely original. Even if a candidate feels like they should borrow an experience that seems better in writing, this can be considered plagiarism and it can make them lose their chance for admission. Transforming any seemingly mundane experience into a relevant answer can be achieved by brainstorming and using the right words.
- One should have a proper introduction and conclusion in the essay along with 1 to 2 body paragraphs. The paragraphs need not be long and should contain relevant information only.
- Though there is no set word limit for the common application essay, they recommend essays to have a word count between 250 to 650. An ideal length for the essay would be 500 words.
- Candidates should ensure that their essay is readable and not too wordy. It should also be devoid of grammatical errors. Proofreading the essay is, hence, a minimum requirement that one must fulfill.