Oct 25, 2021
Tips on Filling Out the Common Application
Filling out the Common Application (CA) is a necessary step in applying to colleges.
The majority of the schools on most students’ lists utilize the CA. The process is quite intuitive and there are tutorials within each section. However, we would like to share a few tips, which we have found to help create the best possible application.
In the Writing section, follow these simple rules:
- Do not treat supplemental colleges as afterthoughts.
- Make your supplementals personal to each college.
- Complete “optional” sections only if they are asking a new question.
AP or IB scores recommendation:
- Only list the tests you have passed. So, nothing under a 3 (AP) or 4 (IB).
- Always list your highest schools first.
- Make sure you list any future tests that you want to take, say Senior year.
The Activities section is the most difficult for students to fill out. Here are a few tips:
- Do not plan to cut and paste a resume as part of the Additional Information section or send one to any college, unless that college specifically asks you to do so in their supplement. Admissions officers spend a lot of time constructing the applications so they can collect all the information they need to know about students. If you send a resume without being asked, it is like telling them that you didn’t like the way they put the application together. That might annoy them, which is never a good idea.
- Notice in the directions to the right that they ask you to list your activities in order of importance to you. Start with the one activity that you could never imagine your high school career without and work your way down from there. After you enter the first one, you can always move the order around using the “Up/Down” arrows within each activity.
- Space can be limited in this section, so it’s fine to abbreviate as long as the abbreviation is universally understood. It would be had to find an admissions officer who does not know what an MVP or NHS is, but there are many others that mean something only to the people involved in the group that uses it.
- Do not feel like you need to fill up all ten lines. The applicant with the longest list of activities is not necessarily the one who is going to get in. Admissions folks want to learn about the significant ways you spent your time outside of class. Remember, it is your chance to describe what you really enjoyed doing in high school.
- In conclusion, here are a few more things to remember. Make sure to check and double-check your application before submitting it. Change can be made, but it requires the student to contact each school directly. This is common, so do not worry if it happens to you. Some changes are necessary and can strengthen your application. Don’t worry. You will have done your best and submitted an excellent CA, but it is not easy to sum up all that a teenager is in the parameters of such a document.
Finally, relax. All you can is submit an application that proudly reflects who you are. The rest is out of your control, so do not worry about it.