5 Steps to Mastering the Common Application

5 Steps to Mastering the Common Application- perhaps not the most exciting thing about the college process, huh? Yet despite all of the excitement that comes with visiting colleges, researching their offerings and getting excited about your future- meticulous attention to detail is your ticket to ACTUALLY getting accepted by your dream school. Colleges make it difficult to apply to their schools because they’re testing student’s attention to detail. While this may seem cruel, it’s the process in the United States. Luckily, here at Cogito World Education, we have an incredible staff with experience in navigating the Common Application.

The Common Application was created in 1975 as a non-profit organization to streamline the college admissions process. Different colleges used to feature their own applications, but would ask for similar information- this created a ton of extra work for students. Enter the CommonApp who now supports over 700 colleges. The CommonApp does have some competitors such as the Coalition App which represents 140 colleges, but most top schools use the CommonApp.

As experts on the subject, stick around and we will take you through the different sections of the Common App. In this piece, we will provide an introduction, discuss best practices, and make sure you understand the application. While these instructions are helpful, much further attention is needed to submit a great application. Check out our University Scholarships Program which offers CommonApp assistance and partial scholarships to US colleges.


Step 1: Creating an Account




This is the homepage of the CommonApp: Commonapp.org. Click the login button in the top right hand corner. Click “Apply Now” and then “Create an Account”. Complete the information as necessary.


Step 2: Adding your Colleges



Once you login, click into the “College Search” Tab and search for your colleges in the appropriate query box. Your search results should yield your college- press “Add” to add their application to “My Colleges”. Make sure that you choose the exact school you are looking for- many colleges have similar names. Lastly, research these colleges first and become familiar with their offerings.


Step 3: Examine your Colleges on the “My Colleges” Tab



Once you click this tab, click on any school you have added to your list. A display like the one above will appear. Pay close attention to the application deadlines and be sure to submit before the deadline you’re targeting. While the CommonApp records the same information to be distributed to your colleges (excluding supplements detailed below), each application must be submitted separately.

See the menu on the left.

You will invite recommenders to submit recommendations on your behalf here. The bets applications include 3-4 recommendations with 1 from a teacher, 1 from your college counselors, and 1-2 from other mentors (no family members please!).

Answer any supplemental questions. Many colleges will ask you to answer a few questions specific to their school. Be sure to look at these early in the process- they could require significant time.

Eventually  you will SUBMIT YOUR APPLICATION here! See Step 5


Step 4: Begin your Application



This tab is where you will spend the majority of your time. The subheadings on the left side: Profile, Family, Education, Testing, Activities, and Writing all have an array of questions that you must complete to submit your application. It will take multiple days to complete this session, but don’t worry, the CommonApp always saves the information you have submitted.


Play close attention to the “Activities” section, as the CommonApp tries to trick you…



Notice that the boxes labeled “Position/Leadership description and organization name, if applicable” and “Please describe this activity, including what you accomplished and any recognition you received, etc.” are VERY SMALL. This is misleading. Students should continue typing and explain as much about their activities as possible. DO NOT ASSUME that the admissions professional reading your application knows anything about how you spend your time.


Additionally, in the Writing section displayed below, you have another opportunity to submit information about yourself.



Add some text about aspects f your life not completely reflected in your application. Attach a paper you wrote in school that you’re particularly proud of or your art portfolio. While it may seem excessive, you want your application to stand out. The more information the better!

Step 5: Submit your Application



Once you have entered all of your information, the circle underneath the column labeled “Application” will turn green and you’ll be ready! Double check all of your content, remember your supplements, and click on the “My Colleges” tab to “Review and Submit”.


Congratulations! You’re one step closer to attending your dream college!

For further assistance and scholarship eligability, contact us at info@cogitoworldeducation.org


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