Is The Common College Application for you?

Simplify your college application process

Is The Common College Application for you?

The Common College Application 

Considering applying to more than one college or university?


That could turn into a mountain of paperwork—or lots of time spent in front of the computer.

But by now, you’ve probably heard of The Common COllege Application, an application that allows you to submit your application to various colleges, which saves you time and money.


If you aren’t familiar with the common college application, here’s a short rundown: The common college application (available online or in paper form) is used by more than 460 colleges, including more than 60 public schools. Members include public and private schools nationwide and two international schools. For a complete list of members, go to


Is it for you?

The Common App isn’t for everyone. For instance, not all schools nationwide are members. So it could actually be more work for students when applying to schools that aren’t members. Do your homework and check to see if the majority of the schools you are applying to are members.


“It may be more work than filling out an institutional application,” says Anderson, director of Outreach for The Common Application.It can be a great tool, though. “It gives students the flexibility to submit another application,” Anderson says. After all, your time is priceless, and you might still be considering additional schools during your senior year.


Tom Delahunt, vice president at Drake University (, agrees. “It helps both sides. It makes the university available to most students,” he says. “It makes (the application process) simpler for (students). Anything in this process that makes it a little easier is good for them.”


Changes to the common college application this year

If you decide to go the common route, be aware that the application has a few changes this year. The application is being updated frequently to answer user demand and concerns. This year, the changes are minor, says Anderson.


“Anybody can suggest a change, and just about anybody does,” he says. Suggestions for changes to the application come from parents, counselors and even community groups.For instance, new this year, you’ll have the option to include civil union/domestic partner as an option for parent’s marital status.


“That inclusion fits in with philosophy that The Common App has embraced for several years now,” Anderson says.


Also, you’ll be asked to report all college attendance (including online) since ninth grade and indicate if it was a college course or if it was an enrichment program hosted on a college campus. The application also will include a question asking if a transcript was issued.


Anderson says this change really came at the request of the colleges as a way to more effectively gather information on the nature of academic programs taken.Be aware of the change to the essay section. The section, which last year included a minimum word count, now has a maximum count of 500 words. “Length doesn’t necessarily equal quality,” Anderson says. “This gives students a framework to work within.”


The changes keep coming. So look out for a few more changes next year, including a change to the number of activities you’ll be allowed to list as extracurriculars. The list will go from 12 to 10.



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