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Applying to colleges can be a daunting and complicated task. Students are overwhelmed with their final year high school examinations along with preparing for their ACT/SAT exams, extracurriculars, college applications and their timely submissions. The students would still be applying to each college individually had it not been for the Common App. This blog is a guide to the common application and an answer to the most asked question–what is the common app?

Working of Common App


1.     What is the Common App?
2.     Purpose of Common App
3.     Working of Common App
4.     Common App College Applications
5.     Common App Institutions

What is the Common App?

Common Application or Common App is a non-profit membership organisation of over 900 different higher education institutions across the USA and 20 other countries worldwide. Common App started over forty years ago, when 15 forward-thinking institutions came together to modify the application process. They worked together to create a common application platform that connects applicants and college counsellors to a variety of its public and private member colleges.

Purpose of Common App

The purpose of creating the common application system is to streamline an essential component of the college application process for students. Common App allows first-time and transfer student applicants to apply easily to multiple colleges through a single platform. A student’s general information is to be entered only once on the common application system instead of entering it repeatedly. Additionally, students can also track their important application documents (like LORs) and college deadlines on the Common App.

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Working of Common App

To begin with, you need to create a common app account and fill out sectional information. You are required to fill in details of your extracurriculars, official transcripts, personal information, standardised test scores, contact information, academic honours, and a personal essay, among other things on the common application portal. The good part–you only have to do it once! After filling out the details for the common application and picking your target colleges, check for course or college-specific additional requirements such as letters of recommendation or additional essays. Although your personal statement on the common application can be used for multiple applications, it is always advisable to tailor it according to university prompts or college-specific requirements.

Common App College Applications

While the common app itself offers free service, some universities and colleges do charge separate application fees. Almost half of the common application institutions do not charge any application fees but it is best to check with your institution for any separate application fees.

The common application portal opens on August 1 every year. Students and counsellors looking for head start can create a common app account and fill in all the general information before this date. It is advisable to keep the required material ready as early as possible. With varying college application deadlines, students should pick a date according to their requirements. For example, students applying for early decision are required to apply by November beginning, while those applying for regular decision can apply by January beginning. These are the usual dates, but application deadlines vary depending on the college.

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Common App Institutions

The common app is the most widely used college application system in the United States. Some of the prestigious institutions that accept applications through the common app are–

  1. Yale University
  2. Stanford University
  3. Harvard University
  4. Arizona State University
  5. Columbia University
  6. Cornell University
  7. John Hopkins University
  8. Brown University
  9. University of Chicago
  10. Columbia University
  11. Princeton University
  12. Duke University
  13. Northwestern University
  14. Dartmouth College
  15. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Several Ivy league and private colleges allow students to apply through Coalition Application or Universal College Application. Though many universities have numerous options to submit applications, the Common App is the most preferred option owing to its acceptance by a large number of institutions and its larger range of essay prompts.

College Applications can be a tedious task. The process becomes all the more complicated with admission guidelines and country-specific requirements. We at Jamboree help thousands of students every year get into their dream college. To get assistance with your college applications, book a free fifteen-minute session with our counsellor.

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