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3 What is the Common App – the seamless Educational Technology Solution Platform?
Educational Technology App: The Common App is a seamless education software solution platform.  Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

School Education and Information Technology

What is the Common App – the seamless Educational Technology Solution Platform?


Have you come across the term ‘Common App or Common Application’ and do not know what it is or how it works. What really is the Common app?

The Common App is a non-profit membership organization representing over 900 diverse institutions of higher education offering application website platform for making college and higher education application process common and simple.

The Common App, as an educational technology solution offered by a pool of institutions, offers is a website for applying for college and higher education admission.

The Common App application guide works for first-year student applicants and transfer student applicants be it a domestic or international student.


The Common App application links

When did the Common App start?

Why is the Common App important?

How popular or common is the Common App?

How much does it cost to apply to college?

How does Common Application work?: Watch a video and take steps on how to apply

How does the Common App work for transfer Students?

Common App Application Guide

What are the requirements for the Common App application?

Common App Essay Prompts

The Common App Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Queries


The Common App application links


Click here to start your application

Click here to create an account

Click here to login

Click here to apply to a college

Click here to find support for students

Click to know more about the fee waiver

Click here for the first-year essay prompt



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Origin of Common App: When did it start?

What is the origin of the Common app? When did it start? Common App was started about 40 years by 15 innovative colleges and universities who reinvented the college and higher education admission application by pooling their application processes into one easily navigated application website.


Why use the Common App? Why is the Common App important?

Why should we use this education technology solution platform to apply for degree programmes in colleges and higher education schools? Why does it matter? Why is the Common App important? A student who wishes to find out about the Common Application website knows why he or she wants it.

Millions of domestic and international students, 33% of whom are first-generation, apply for higher education admission, research financial aid, and scholarships, and connect to college counseling resources. The Common App makes the application, research, and connection processes and experiences simple, seamless, logical, less cumbersome, and exciting.

The Common App lowers the logistical and systemic barriers to college access; supports students, teachers, education professionals, and school administrators, and leverage data and insight to inform their member institutions.

It streamlines the process and keeps everything in one place so the student applicant is not required to keep up with a hundred different passwords for separate college websites.

It also provides the students with a convenient checklist for easy admission referencing and tracking.


How popular or common is the Common App? How many Common App Higher Education Schools: Colleges and universities are members of the organization

Is the Common App popular? If it is, how popular or common is the educational technology solution platform?

Today, the Common App Higher Education Schools: Colleges and universities have increased to extremely large numbers across countries and continents.

While it is most popular in the US, Canada, and parts of Europe, Japan, and China, almost 900 different colleges and universities across all 50 states and 20 countries now use the non-profit Common App. Each year, it serves more than a million US and international students.

How much does it cost to apply to college?

How much does it cost a student to apply via Common App to a school? While some colleges may charge an application fee, others have no fee to apply. And, many offer fee waiver under certain circumstances, including financial need, veteran status, and more. You may qualify for an application fee waiver. Ask the colleges you are applying to about any college-specific waivers they offer and be sure to check out the Common App fee waiver in the ‘Create a Profile’ section of the application.


How does Common Application work?

Watch a video on how Common App works and the Common App Guide


Once a student comes to know what the Common App is, the next question he asks will be, ‘’How does the Common App work?’’

The Common App works by streamlining the college and higher education application process and allowing student applicants to apply to various schools or universities from one central location.


Steps on how the Common App works and how to apply to colleges and higher education institutions using the Common App

How the Common App work in steps: How to apply to colleges using the Common App. How can a student start applying to colleges and submit applications using the Common App? There are 4 steps to applying to universities following the Common App guide.

How does the Common App work for transfer Students?

How does the Common App work for transfer Students? The transfer portion of the Common App works in much the same way as it does for first-time applicants with some minor differences.

The difference is that the transfer students, unlike first-time applicants, will have additional information to submit from colleges attended. The Common App asks transfer students to list any college or university attended, dates of enrolment, college coursework completed, and GPA. A transfer student is also required to write an essay too, the same prompts as first-time applicants with effect from this 2020/2021 school year.

Common App Application Guide

Application platform guide
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Application platform guide. Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash


Providing the Common App Guide makes it easier for a student to know how the Common App works and how the Common App can be used to guide both first-year students and transfer students as they apply for a higher education programme.

Students should follow the guide below as they start their application process and find out more about the Common App

To start, applicants can click the start button on the website and click on the “Apply now” button to get details about how to create an account and login to work on an application through the educational technology solution platform. Students can download the Common App’s mobile app to keep track of deadlines, invite recommenders, and set reminders.

Applicants can also preview supplemental questions for schools before they start their applications through the platform’s Student Solutions Center.

The step-by-step process of how to start applying to colleges and higher education schools and submit an application using the Common App is discussed below:

Step1: Create a profile (for provision of general information)

A student starts his application as he creates a profile by putting all the general information about him or herself as required by the college and higher education institution.

To create a profile in the Common App is to prepare the student to start the application process proper having answered most of the questions required by the college and the higher education.

The detailed information required by most schools includes name, address, parental employment and education, extracurricular activities, and more, one time.

Step 2: Choose colleges from the list

The student will be required to choose colleges he or she is interested in attending after completing the ‘Create a profile’ section.

The Common App puts relevant information about all the participating colleges and higher education institutions on a “fact sheet”. By clicking on the college name, the students view the standardized tests, if any, like SAT or ACT  it requires, the admissions fee for both domestic and international students, whether a Common App essay is required, and more.

Step 3: Obtain the requirements

After the student has added the colleges to his or her “My Colleges” list, a checklist of requirements for each school will be generated, simply enabling him or her to check the submission of the required information for each school applied for.

What are the requirements for the Common App application?

1. Schools requirements for the Common App are but not limited to:

2. Satisfactory results of a standardized test like the SAT or ACT

3. Letters of recommendation

4. Payment of application fee

5. Supplementary questions for schools

6. Writing and submitting a Common App essay or a supplementary essay or additional information

7. Completion of the online form

There is a link to the website of each college and higher education institutions so you can find any information not listed in the Common App.

Applicants can see the requirements for all schools on the Common App when they login to their student accounts or download a PDF even for family resources from the website.

Common App has a process through which you can request a fee waiver in case of financial difficulty. If you request a Common App fee waiver, you have to supply some financial information or proof that you have a genuine financial need.

Many schools require first-year applicants to submit letters of recommendation and transcripts. Students need to give teachers and counselors enough time to submit those materials to the Common App before deadlines.

Step 4: Submit Common App applications 

Some applications will be completely covered by everything a student has already done in the Common App ‘Create a profile’ portion. Others will require you to add a few other information and you can before submitting through the app itself.

Some schools require payment of an application fee before your application is considered. After you have been approved for the fee waiver, it can then submit to the colleges and higher education you applied to via the Common App.


Common App Essay Prompts

The Common App conveniently lists all the essay prompts on its website. The prompts often change from year to year but the Common App first-year essay prompts for the 2020-2021 school year will be the same as the essay prompts used for 2019-2020.

How long is the Common App essay? What is the Common App essay word limit?

The Common App essay word limit is 650. Student applicants are not expected to exceed it while they write the essay. It can take an average fast writer about 90 minutes to write 650 words.

How to write the Common App essay

To write the Common App essay, the student applicants choose an essay prompt with seven options provided and writes the one chosen taking into consideration not to exceed the word limit.

The Common App essay examples: Which essay topic can I be asked to write?

I consider the question, ‘Which essay topic can I be asked to write?’ to be in the mind of many Common App users. The essay prompt question varies widely, so do not narrow your mind to certain topics.

However, expect to see an essay topic that provides insight into your identity in ways that aren’t reflected in other parts of the application. Look beyond academics to think about what makes you special and each essay prompt focuses on you, the student. For example, consider topics about your past history; how you overcame a problem; a time when you challenged a belief; your interests and potentials; a past accomplishment, or simply an essay topic you find interesting.

You can also consider essay topics relating to great values and qualities in life that make the difference; solving human problems; inventions that can make the world better; dealing with global social problems, among others.


The Common App Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Queries

Frequently Asked Questions
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Frequently Asked Questions. Image by digital designer from Pixabay


Students who have questions and online queries about completing the application can ask their high school counselor and admissions officers at the colleges they are applying to for help. You can as well find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) or submit a question in the Student Solutions Centre on the site.

Which colleges and higher education institutions use the Common App?  Which universities can I apply to through the Common App?

Which colleges and higher education institutions use the Common App? Which universities can a student apply to through the Common App?

There are many private universities and colleges which use the Common App exclusively, while many public schools students can apply through this seamless educational technology solution platform, some of the most well-known universities that use the Common App are Harvard UniversityCornell UniversityYale University. Others are the University of Alabama, Arizona State UniversityCalifornia College of the ArtsFlorida Institute of Technology, University of Notre Dame and so many more.

How long does it take to apply through the Common App? When is the Common App due? When does the Common App open and end?

Every new edition of the Common App opens or is usually due August 1 every year and you can get started on the Common App on the said due or open date since the end date or deadline varies based on a school’s requirements.

The Common App due date through the deadline or how long the application process takes may not be static but student applicants do not need to wait until August 1 to start getting the application requirements.

Students should allocate at least six weeks to get all college requirements for the application consisting of two weeks to complete any background information – name, address, education, and others and four months to get other required documents ready.

I am having problems with the Common App application. What should I do?

What you should if you have any problem with the Common App application is to make use of the varieties of resources in the Common App to resolve your issue.

You can check the video tutorials throughout the application for proper guidance. The platform has year-round technical support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. So expect a response to your question in not more than 30 minutes if done.

Can I get a fee waiver when applying through the Common App?

The Common App is free to use and though about half of the member schools don’t demand the application fee for first-year students, you can get a fee waiver from a school of your choice which demands an application fee if you prove to them that you are having financial difficulty and cannot pay for the application fee at the time of application.

Applicants who qualify for fee waivers – those who meet the standards set by the National Association for College Admission Counselling – will be able to make that known through the school support staff.

Students who have questions about whether they qualify for fee waivers can reach out to their high school counselors or directly to the colleges or higher education school that they are applying to.

Do I have to use the Common App to apply to colleges?

It is not a compulsory requirement for students to use the Common App. It is not the only educational technology solution platform for the college application even though it is popular.

Many schools allow students to apply online through their websites like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Georgetown University accepts applications only through their school websites.

Some states have students’ college application systems. like the case with Texas. The state has a state-wide system for submitting applications, though some Texas schools also accept the Common App.

Some well-known private higher education schools, colleges, and universities, such as Harvard University and Amherst College, accept applications through the Common App.

Other platforms accepted by some schools include the Coalition Application and the Universal College Application. And while there are some exceptions, many schools that use those platforms also use the Common App.

Colleges that allow students to submit applications through multiple platforms don’t have a preference on which one is used. The Common App’s integration with Naviance – a college and career readiness software provider – makes it easy for counselors to submit documentation for colleges.


This blog content on ‘What is the Common App – the seamless Educational Technology Solution Platform?’ sub-categorized under School Education and Information Technology

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