The application process

The Common Application is used for undergraduate admissions by 488 colleges and universities. This application uses a holistic approach looking at a variety of items such as extracurricular activity, college admission essays, letters of recommendation and many other nonacademic items. Of course they also use grade point averages and test scores, but the decision is based on the applicant as a whole rather than just GPAs and tests scores.

The Common Application covers several areas: personal data, educational data, standardized test information, family information, academic honors, extracurricular activities, work experience, a short-answer essay, a personal essay and criminal history.

The Common Application is submitted electronically at the Common Application website. Many schools will ask for a supplemental essay to complement the personal essay options provided on the Common Application. These supplements are often submitted through the Common Application website.

Some colleges charge a fee. These can be anywhere from $35 to $50.


​Application tips:

Much of the information on every application will be the same, However, the essay questions will be different. Try to stand out in your essay. Questions like:  "Why do you want to attend our college?" – make those essays as specific as possible. Try to focus primarily on why exactly each school matches you! Try to avoid crafting generic essays that might fit a hundred colleges.

​Tailor each application accordingly. Colleges look for demonstrated interest.

Write what you know. The essay needs to be about you — who you are, what is important and meaningful to you. Keep it brief.
Admissions officers are looking for insight into you as a real person, so think about your essay and take care in preparing it.

Proofread your essay. Ask a teacher/guidance counselor to read it.

  1. Be specific: College admissions representatives receive hundreds of essays each week. Avoid broad statements about yourself.  Instead of saying you are a natural leader, write about a time when you were faced with a leadership challenge. Instead of saying you are organized, write about how your organizational skills helped you to complete a project.
  2. Make it personal: Include personal anecdotes and examples of whatever is unique about you.
  3. Stay narrow: Going in-depth on one or two ideas is often better than trying to fit all your accomplishments into one essay. Use your résumé to list everything you’ve done.
  4. Get the easy things right: Don’t give college admissions representatives reasons to disregard your essay. Stay within their word limit, turn everything in on time, and stick to the essay prompt.

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