More than one million students apply to college each year using the Common Application. Why? It lets you apply to multiple colleges using one centralized application--and a whole lot more. Here’s a crash course in the Common App.
What is the Common App?
The Common Application is a free application platform accepted by more than 800 colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad. Over the years, the Common App has evolved from a single form students could use to apply to several colleges into a large college application hub. Students now use the Common App to research colleges, build their college lists, request recommendations, manage deadlines, apply for scholarships, and more.
Where Can You Find the Common App?
Students can access the Common App at commonapp.org, and most colleges accepting it provide links to the application from their websites. Using the Common Application is free. You will, however, have to pay the college’s application fees, although application fee waivers are available through the Common Application for students who qualify.
When Can You Begin Applying with the Common App?
A new version of the Common Application is available every August 1, but you can create an account and start entering your information before that date. If you want to familiarize yourself with the Common App before you start applying to schools (which counselors recommend), you can create a “practice” account, which allows you to access all the features of the platform and complete a practice application without sending it to colleges.
Is there a Common App Essay?
Many, but not all, colleges that accept the Common App require a personal essay. The Common App features seven essay topics from which to choose and announces them in the Spring prior to August 1. This is great news if you want to get a summer head start on your essay. (See How to Write Your Common App Essay for tips). You can customize your essay for different colleges and send different versions to different schools.
What about other requirements?
While you only need to create your application and personal essay once for all your colleges, some schools have additional requirements, such as multiple recommendation letters and additional essays. The Common App has some special features that help you keep track of these details and submit materials.
The Common App clearly lists the requirements for every college you are applying to
. As you complete your applications, it parses out any additional questions or writing supplements required and keeps them front-and-center. The application will flag these items if you try to submit your application without them.
The Common App will notify your counselors, teachers and other recommenders
when recommendation letters are due and send them recommendation and grade report forms to complete and return through the platform.
You can submit videos or portfolio pieces
highlighting your skills and outside interests.
All registered users of the Common App have access to its free mobile app, Common App onTrack.
The mobile app provides additional reminders and push notifications specific to your colleges.
A Special App for Transfers
Students transferring from two-year or four-year colleges can use the Common App for Transfer to apply to more than 650 four-year schools. This platform provides and collects forms specific to the transfer application process and customizes the application experience based on a student’s age, goals and degree status.
How to Get Started with the Common App
Because the Common Application has so many features, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the platform long before you start working on your applications. Visit the Common Application's Applicant Solutions Center for more information and links to video tutorials.
Also, for more information, access CollegeData’s Common Application Guide, which shows you all the colleges on CollegeData that accept the Common App, as well as their application deadlines, fees, and the number of essays and recommendations they require.
Take a look at Common Application Colleges at a Glance to review each college's application deadlines, fees, and requirements.
Use the College Chances Calculator to learn what it takes to get into these colleges.
See How to Write Your Common Application Essay for the current Common Application essay topics and tips for choosing the best topic for you.
College requires Common App essay
College requires Writing Supplement in addition to or in place of the Common App essay
College requires both Common App essay and a Writing Supplement
Counselor Recommendation required
Teacher Recommendation required
Other/non-academic evaluation required
A description of your high school provided by your counselor, usually sent with your transcript
Grades from the first term of senior year
|Admission Deadlines||Fees||Additional Forms Required|
|Early Decision||Early Action||Regular Admission||Online||Essay/Writing Supplement||Recommendations||School Report||Midyear Report|
|Adelphi University||12/1||Rolling||$40||$40||Yes: E, WS||Yes: CR||Yes||No|
|Agnes Scott College||11/1||11/15, 1/15||3/15||$0||$0||Yes: E||Yes: 1 TR, CR||Yes||No|
|Alaska Pacific University||Rolling||$50||$50||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences||11/1||12/1||2/1||$75||$75||Yes: E||Yes: 1 TR||Yes||No|
|Albertus Magnus College||Rolling||$35||$35||Yes: E||Yes: CR||Yes||No|
|Albion College||12/1||Rolling||$0||$0||No||Yes: CR||Yes||Yes|
|Alfred State College||Rolling||$50||$50||No||Yes: 1 TR CR||Yes||No|
|Alfred University||11/1||Rolling||$50||$0||Yes: E||Yes: CR||Yes||No|
|Allegheny College||11/15, 2/1||12/1||2/15||$0||$0||Yes: E||Yes: 1 TR, CR||Yes||No|
|Alma College||Rolling||$25||$0||Yes: E||No||Yes||No|
|Alvernia University||Rolling||$25||$0||Yes: E||No||Yes||Yes|
|American University||11/15, 1/15||1/15||$75||$75||Yes: E, WS||Yes: 1 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Amherst College||11/16||1/4||$65||$65||Yes: E, WS||Yes: 2 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Anna Maria College||11/15||Rolling||$25||$25||Yes: E||No||Yes||No|
|Antioch College||11/15, 1/2||Rolling||$0||$0||Yes: E||Yes, 1 TR, CR||Yes||No|
|Appalachian State University||11/1||2/1||$65||$65||Yes: E, WS||No||Yes||No|
|Arizona State University||Rolling||$50 - $70||$50 - $70||No||No||Yes||No|
|Arkansas Baptist College||Rolling||$25||$25||No||No||Yes|
|Arkansas State University||Rolling||$30||$30||No||No||No||No|
|Art Academy of Cincinnati||Rolling||$0||$0||No||No||No||No|
|Assumption University||11/1||11/1, 12/15||2/15||$50||$50||Yes: E||Yes: 1 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Auburn University at Montgomery||Rolling||$0||$50||No||No||No|
|Augsburg College||Rolling||$0||$0||Yes: E||No||Yes||No|
|Augustana College||11/1||11/1||4/1||$0||$0||Yes: E||No||Yes||No|
|Austin College||11/1||12/1, 2/1||3/1||$0||$0||Yes: E||Yes: 1 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Ave Maria University||Rolling||$0||$0||No||No||Yes||No|
|Babson College||11/1, 1/2||11/1||1/2||$75||$75||Yes: E, WS||Yes: 1 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Baldwin Wallace University||Rolling||$0||$0||Yes: E||Yes: CR||Yes||No|
|Bard College||11/1||11/1||1/1||$0||$0||Yes: E||Yes: 2 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Bard College at Simon's Rock||2/1, 4/1||6/1||$0||$0||Yes: WS||Yes: 2 TR, 1 OR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Barnard College||11/1||1/1||$75||$75||Yes: E, WS||Yes: 2 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Bates College||11/15, 1/1||1/1||$60||$60||Yes: E, WS||Yes: 2 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Bay Path College||Rolling||$0||$0||No||No||Yes||No|
|Baylor University||11/2, 2/1||11/2||2/1||$0||$0||Yes: E||No||Yes||No|
|Becker College||11/16, 1/15||11/16, 1/15||Rolling||$0||$0||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Bellarmine University||11/1||Rolling||$25||$0||No||Yes: CR||Yes||No|
|Belmont University||Rolling||$50||$50||Yes: E||Yes: CR||Yes||No|
|Beloit College||11/1||11/1, 12/1||1/15||$0||$0||Yes: E||Yes: 1 TR||Yes||No|
|Bennington College||11/15, 1/15||12/1||1/15||$0||$0||Yes: E||Yes: 2 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Bentley University||11/15, 1/7||1/7||$75||$75||Yes: E||Yes: 1 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Berry College||11/1||1/15||$0||$0||Yes: E||No||Yes||No|
|Binghamton University||11/1||1/15||$50||$50||Yes: E||Yes: CR||Yes||No|
|Bloomfield College||12/1||Rolling||$40||$40||Yes: WS||Yes: 1 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Boston College||11/1, 1/1||1/1||$80||$80||Yes: E, WS||Yes: 2 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Boston University||11/1, 1/1||1/1||$80||$80||Yes: E||Yes: 1 TR, CR||Yes||Yes|
|Bowdoin College||11/15, 1/5||1/5||$65||$65||Yes: E||Yes: 2 TR, CR, 1 OE||Yes||Yes|