The Common Application Walkthrough


The Common Application is a free application method for applying to colleges with only one application. In the past, each individual college had their own college application. Now, more than 800 colleges and universities in 20 countries use the Common App, which means that many students may only need their one Common App for all their prospective colleges. Some Indiana colleges and universities that use the Common App are Purdue, IUPUI, Anderson, Indiana University, and Notre Dame.

The entire Common App process may seem exhausting, but it is worth it in the long run. Creating a separate application for each of the colleges you are applying for would actually be exhausting.

“The Common App takes a long time,” said Samantha Henderson, 12, “but it makes the college application process easier because you can send your application in at one time to all the colleges you are applying to.”

To start an individual Common App, go to their website, and click on the “Apply Now” button. This will go to the sign in page, but click on “create an account” to get started. Depending on when you plan to enroll in college, whether as a freshman or a transfer student, you would click the correct choice. Next, type in your email address, and create a password. Then, enter the information the Common App asks for, and create an account.

You should see five different tabs: Dashboard, My Colleges, Common App, College Search, and Financial Aid Resources.

In the Common App tab, you have to input information about yourself, your family, education, testing, activities, and the college application essay. The MV Current has tips on how to write a good college app essay. Some colleges will require your courses and grades during your high school career.

To search for colleges and/or connect potential colleges to your application, use the College Search tab. You can search for colleges with any of the criteria given. If you have a college you want to apply to, search for that college or university, check it, and click “add.” When you go to your Dashboard, your college should be there with different symbols and deadlines for what you need to do for that college.

The Dashboard can help you keep track of the colleges and universities you are actually interested in applying to, especially after you figure out by what deadline you will apply with.

Through the My Colleges tab, you can fill out each college’s additional questions for the application. Some of these colleges have a writing supplement, so there will be questions in this section as well. Many colleges require recommenders, like your counselor, teachers, and employers.

The Financial Aid Resources tab has basic information on where and how you can get scholarships to help pay for college. You can also see the financial aid processes of each of the colleges on your list.

After you are done filling out the Common App and individual college questions, you can review and submit your application to each of your colleges. Then you are done with applying for colleges.