The Common Application is an application which you can use to apply to many universities in the US for undergraduate programs. There are actually two main applications that universities accept, which is Coalition Application and the Common Application.

However, the Common Application is most widely used. More than 850 universities in the US accepts the Common App, and there are more than a hundred universities outside the US that accept the Common App.

So, if you fill out the Common App, you will have no problem in applying for many different universities that you want. The main exception to this is the universities in the University of California System and MIT, which use their own application.

In this article, I will explain the different parts of the Common Application and how you can fill the application out!


How to Sign Up for the Common App

You will need to first register and make an account with the Common App to get access to the application. Signing Up for an account is completely free, and you can do it at the Common App Website.

Once you go to that website, you can click on “Create Your Account” Button and register using your email address, name, etc.

You do not need to be a US citizen and Permanent Residents to Sign Up. Both domestic and international students can sign up, and you can be living in anywhere in the world.

Check Also: Available Programs for International Students

Fill out Different Parts of the Common App

Once you have created your Common App account, you can fill out your application. Here are some of the parts that you have to fill out to complete your application:


Student Information

Student Information section asks your personal information such as your contact details, education background, and parents’ education background. This section is the easiest to fill.



There are three types of essays in the Common Application: Personal Essay, Additional Information Essay, and School-specific essays.

Personal Essays (250-650 words)

This is a required portion of the Common Application. You can find the personal essay prompt when you access the Common Application.

Additional Information Essay (up to 650 words)

This is not a required part of the Common Application. It is perfectly fine not to complete this section. However, you want to complete this section if you have special circumstances.

For example, I wrote an essay about my helping other international students who were struggling. In my essay, I described a struggling international student and how I have helped him to succeed.

Additional information such as family circumstances or unique experiences should be included in this essay to give the admission officers better picture of you. Remember, the more information the colleges know about you as an applicant, the better it is for you.

The essay prompt of additional information essay is: “You may use the space below to provide any additional information you wish to share.”


School-Specific Essays

Some selective colleges such as Harvard University and Yale University requires you to write separate essays in addition to the application. This type of essay has typically 100-500 word limit.


Suggestions about Essays

First, work on the Common Application essays. While working on the Common Application essay, finalize your college list. Once you have finalized your college list, start working on the college-specific essays. In a word document, make a complete list of the colleges to which you are applying and the supplemental essays. This will help you to keep track of the requirements and to motivate you.

When you are writing these essays, it is essential that you check your grammar. I recommend you to use a free tool ProWritingAid Grammar Checker to check your work since they are the best grammar checking tool out there.


Submit Your Common App

Once you have filled out your Common Application, it’s time for you to submit it! If you want to receive scholarships, you should check out 20 Best Scholarships in USA. What is better than getting a scholarship to study in USA?


Tips on the Common App

Common Application requires one recommendation from your counselor. However, most colleges require one recommendation from your counselor and two from your teacher. Here are some tips regarding recommendation:

  • Ask your junior year teachers for recommendations. Although you can ask your senior or sophomore teachers, your senior teacher did not spend enough time to write a strong recommendation letter, and your sophomore teachers might not remember quite well about your accomplishments.
  • Ask them one month in advance of the deadline. Your teachers should not be rushed to write you a good recommendation.
  • When you are asking your teachers for recommendation letters, talk to your teacher about your accomplishments and ask them to emphasize certain character/academic traits. For example, you should ask your teacher to emphasize your class interaction or your leadership skills.
  • Send them a thank-you note.

In the Common Application, you will be asked to provide your recommenders’ email addresses. Once you have submitted the email address, the recommenders will receive a link to the recommendation form. You will be notified in the Common Application when your recommenders have filed the form.


Counselor Recommendation

School Report and Recommendation

Your counselor will need to submit a recommendation and a school report for your application. Like teacher’s recommendation, you will need to provide your counselor’s email address. Your counselor will provide information such as your weighted and unweighted GPA, class rank, and his/her evaluation of you. The deadline for a school report and a recommendation is the same as the college application deadline.


Mid-year Report

Some colleges require your counselor to submit a Mid-Year Report. Mid-Year Report is submitted by your counselor when the first semester grades are available (Around December to January). It contains the first semester grades of your senior year and any additional updates. Your first-semester grade might influence your admission results because the admission results did not come out yet. Your counselor can complete this form by logging in to their Common Application counselor’s account.


Final Report

Some colleges require you to submit the Final Report which includes your second-semester grades, final class rank, and final GPA. This will not affect your decision because you have been already accepted. However, if your grades drop significantly (as in A to a D), colleges might rescind their decision. Like the Mid-year Report, your counselor can complete this by logging in to the Common Application counselor’s account.


Recommended Timeline for the Common Application

During the Summer

  • Work on the personal essay
  • Start your college list

Beginning of the school year

  1. Send recommendations to your teachers and counselor
  2. Cut down your college list

October 1

  1. Finish the Common Application essays
  2. Work on Early Decision essays
  3. Finalize your college list

November 1

  • Finish your Early Decision essays
  • Start working on school-specific essays
  • Finalize the Common Application

Start submitting the application to colleges as soon as you finish the school-specific essays. This will greatly alleviate your stress when the deadlines are approaching.


We hope that you have found valuable information in this article. Make sure to also check out the Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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  1. Sinuri - Reply

    This information is very helpful

    • Hyun Lee - Reply

      I’m glad that you’ve found it helpful!

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