Common Application Tips

October 18, 2023

Application Deadlines are coming quickly, so thousands of college-bound seniors are (or should be) hard at work on their Common Application. While there are other application forms that many colleges accept, I recommend starting with the Common App. It is used by the greatest number of colleges.

Given the widespread use of that Application and the upcoming deadlines, I have compiled some critical tips on how to successfully get started in filling the application.

1- Create your teen’s new Common App account. There’s no downside to getting the account set up right away. Use an email address that your teen checks regularly.

2- Click on the “College Search” tab to add all colleges your family is considering to “My College List.” It’s better to include too many than too few.

3- From “My College List,” click on each college and scroll to find 1- application deadlines and 2- “college questions.” Clicking on “college questions” will show you the questions and supplemental essays that are distinctive to each college your teen is considering.

4- Take time to carefully complete the Activities Section of the Common App. Your teen’s list of activities should be in descending order of significance. That is, list the most time consuming and important items first.

5- Be sure to share your list of target colleges with your school counselor and recommenders. Not every high school handles this process the same way, so check with your school counselor to make sure you’re aligned with your school’s preferences.

Following these 5 tips and submitting your applications ahead of the deadlines will increase your chances for success. For even more details, you can reference the USNews Guide for completing the application.

As a parent of teens, I know this is a busy time and it can be hard to get teenagers to complete steps early. Trust me in noting that delaying application work can derail college dreams. Good luck!

P.S. If your family is still looking for advice on how to find and select the right college, I hope you will register this free web event.

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