Tips for High School Students Navigating the Common Application


Kate Sliunkova

AdmitYogi, Stanford MBA & MA in Education



7 min read

Tips for High School Students Navigating the Common Application

Applying to college can be a daunting task, but fortunately, there is a common application that is accepted by over 800 colleges and universities. However, filling out this application can be challenging. In this article, we'll provide some tips on how to navigate the process effectively.

Understanding the Common Application Process

As high school students begin to think about their future and consider applying to colleges and universities, they may become overwhelmed by the daunting task of filling out multiple applications. Fortunately, the Common Application offers an efficient solution to this problem.

What is the Common Application?

The Common Application is an online platform that allows students to apply to multiple colleges and universities simultaneously. The application includes questions about personal information, educational history, and extracurricular activities. It also requires applicants to submit an essay and letters of recommendation.

By using the Common Application, students can complete one application and submit it to multiple colleges. This can save time and energy, as well as reduce the stress associated with filling out multiple applications.

Benefits of Using the Common Application

One of the primary benefits of the Common Application is that it streamlines the college application process for students. Instead of filling out multiple applications for each college, students can complete just one application through the Common Application. This can save time and reduce stress.

In addition to simplifying the application process, the Common Application also provides students with a standardized platform for submitting their materials. This can make it easier for colleges and universities to review applications and compare applicants.

Furthermore, the Common Application offers a range of resources and tools to help students navigate the application process. From essay prompts to application deadlines, the Common Application provides students with the information they need to make informed decisions about their college applications.

Participating Colleges and Universities

Over 800 colleges and universities in the United States and abroad accept the Common Application. Some notable schools include Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford. You can find a complete list of schools that accept the Common Application on their website.

By using the Common Application, students can apply to a wide range of schools without having to fill out multiple applications. This can increase their chances of being accepted to a school that is a good fit for them.

However, it is important to note that not all schools accept the Common Application. Some schools have their own application process, and students should research each school's requirements before applying.

Overall, the Common Application is a valuable tool for students who are applying to multiple colleges and universities. By streamlining the application process and providing students with a standardized platform, the Common Application can help students make informed decisions about their future and increase their chances of being accepted to a school that is a good fit for them.

Creating a Strong Profile

When it comes to applying to colleges, your Common Application profile is your chance to make a strong first impression. Admissions officers will be looking at your profile to get a sense of who you are and what you can bring to their campus community. Here are a few tips to help you create a profile that stands out.

Choosing the Right Email Address

One of the first things you'll need to do when creating your Common Application profile is choose an email address to use. This email address will be the primary way that colleges and universities communicate with you throughout the application process, so it's important to choose wisely.

When choosing an email address, avoid using addresses that are too casual or inappropriate. For example, an email address like "" might be fine for communicating with friends, but it doesn't send a professional message to admissions officers.

Instead, choose an email address that is simple and professional. Ideally, your email address should include your name, so that it's easy for admissions officers to identify you. For example, an email address like "" is a good choice.

Accurately Reporting Your Personal Information

Another key component of your Common Application profile is the personal information section. This section asks for basic information about you, such as your name, address, and phone number. While it might seem like a simple task, it's important to take the time to double-check your information for accuracy.

A small typo or mistake can have big consequences when it comes to submitting your application. Make sure that you use the correct spelling of your name, address, and phone number. If you've recently moved or changed phone numbers, be sure to update your information accordingly.

Highlighting Your Extracurricular Activities

One of the most important sections of your Common Application profile is the extracurricular activities section. This is your chance to showcase the activities and interests that you've pursued throughout high school.

When filling out this section, be sure to include all relevant activities that you've taken part in. This might include sports teams, clubs, volunteer work, or any other activities that you're passionate about.

Don't be afraid to go into detail about your involvement in these activities. For example, if you were a member of your school's debate team, you might mention the tournaments you competed in or the awards you won. This will help admissions officers get a better sense of your interests and accomplishments.

By following these tips, you can create a Common Application profile that showcases your strengths and helps you stand out to admissions officers. Good luck!

Selecting the Best Essay Topic

Understanding the Essay Prompts

The Common Application requires applicants to write an essay on one of several prompts. It's important to read and understand the prompts carefully before selecting a topic. Take some time to reflect on your experiences and select a prompt that aligns with your interests and strengths.

Brainstorming Ideas

Once you have selected a prompt, it's time to brainstorm ideas for your essay. Think about experiences that have shaped your life, challenges you have overcome, and your aspirations for the future. Make a list of potential essay topics, and then narrow it down to one that you feel passionate about writing.

Showcasing Your Unique Qualities

The essay is your opportunity to express your individuality and stand out from other applicants. Showcase your unique qualities and strengths throughout your essay. Be sure to use specific examples and anecdotes to support your claims.

Requesting Letters of Recommendation

Identifying the Right Recommenders

When requesting letters of recommendation, it's important to identify the right recommenders. Choose individuals who know you well and can speak to your character and accomplishments. This could include teachers, coaches, or mentors.

Providing Necessary Information to Recommenders

Once you have identified your recommenders, make sure to provide them with the necessary information to write a strong letter. This could include your resume, transcript, and information about the schools you are applying to. Be sure to give them plenty of notice and follow up with them to ensure that they submit their letters on time.

Following Up with Recommenders

After you have requested letters of recommendation, be sure to follow up with your recommenders to confirm that they have submitted their letters. This shows that you are organized and responsible, and it can also help ensure that your letters are received in a timely manner.


In conclusion, the Common Application can be a valuable tool for high school students applying to college. By following these tips, you can navigate the application process more effectively and increase your chances of being accepted to your dream school. Remember to take your time, be thorough and accurate, and showcase your unique qualities throughout the application. Good luck!

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