You’ve narrowed your search and are ready to begin the application process. You log onto the college’s Web site, click undergraduate admissions and read, “Common application accepted, supplemental application required.”
What does that mean? Shouldn’t you just submit the application from the college? Not necessarily. If your college accepts a variety of applications, then it doesn’t matter which one you use, says Alice Kleeman, college information specialist at Menlo Atherton High School in California.
And using a different application could mean less work for you!
Most of the colleges in the U.S. have their own college-specific applications. There are generally three to four separate forms in a college-specific application, including an application, teacher recommendation, an official report card and a midyear school report, which is often simply a transcript.
Some colleges may only require one or two of these forms; others may require them all.
The one form that will be yours to complete and mail (or submit online) is the application itself. If you decide to apply online, register at the college’s Web site. From there, with your login name and password, you can revise your application as many times as you’d like. It becomes final when you press the send button.
The Common Application
The Common Application is accepted by 299 colleges and universities as of August 2006. The Common Application is designed so that you can apply to several colleges with just one application. A complete college list of the schools that accept the Common Application is available online, with the option to also submit your application through the web.
The Common Application consists of four separate forms: the application, school report, teacher evaluation and midyear report. Make as many copies of the teacher evaluation or recommendation as the application requires. Fill out the top portions and pass them along to the teachers you’ve selected to write them. The teachers will mail their evaluations directly to the colleges.
Fill out the top portion of the midyear report and give it to your guidance counselor for completion. Your counselor will mail it directly to the college.
Many colleges highly recommend applying online. (Think of it as saving some trees and stamps.) When you fill out an application online, print out a copy of the form to use as a rough draft.
“It was really confusing at first,” says Jessica Scott, who graduated high school in 2005. “But once I read the directions online and saw the different forms needed to complete the application, it wasn’t too bad.”
Most schools on your college list that accept the Common Application also require a college-specific supplemental application. You get the supplemental application, which is just one form, from the college. It can usually be mailed or done online. You can work on it as often as you’d like online; it’s final when you press send.
Pulling it all together
These forms are filed in your folder as the college receives them. When the deadline arrives, each folder containing all the required forms is considered a complete application. Even though you have several people helping you out, it is still your responsibility to make sure everything gets to the college. So follow up with your counselors, teachers and future colleges!
In a nutshell:
- The Common Application has four forms and can be done online or mailed in.
- Colleges accepting the Common Application generally also require you to fill out a supplemental application.
- College-specific applications work only for that specific college.
- No matter which application you use, it is your responsibility to verify that the college has received all the forms.
- Be sure to read the directions for each college’s application process.