As we near the end of 2020, many high school students are beginning to submit applications to college for the 2021 ‑ 2022 academic year ‑ often using the Common App. With over 900 colleges and universities using the Common App, students can easily send one application to several colleges. Do any of the schools on your list ask for the Common App? If so, here are a few things to know about this form before you submit:
- There is a question concerning COVID-19. The folks at Common App understand that the pandemic has adversely impacted many students; in response, they added an official COVID-19 question to the application under the “additional information” section. In 250 words, students can describe how the pandemic impacted them and their families. Although you have an option to answer this question, it is not a requirement. The COVID-19 question accompanies a second “additional information” question that allows students to discuss circumstances that were not disclosed earlier in the application. Students have 650 words to answer this question, but again, it is not a requirement.
- Have your materials ready. To streamline the process, make sure to have the following items with you as you fill out the Common App: your high school transcript with individual course and grade information, your college resume or list of activities, your test scores for the SAT or ACT (if needed), and parent information like occupation and education level.
- What is an activity? Many students stress about the activities section. When we think of activities, we tend to think of sports and school activities, but this category is not so narrow. Do you have a job after school? Do you babysit siblings or neighbors? Did you sew masks for family, friends, or healthcare workers? Anything done outside of the classroom is an activity, not just joining the French club or the soccer team.
- Quality over quantity. The Common App allows students to enter up to 10 activities into the activities section. This section is designed to learn about how you spend your time outside of the classroom. So if you spend the majority of your time working or going to dance practice, that’s okay. If you are involved in several clubs and activities for only a few hours a week, that’s okay too. Colleges want to learn about your interests, and this section helps them do that. If you have more than 10 activities, make a few decisions about what is most important to you and what you have already listed. For example, if you are majoring in engineering, listing math and science club might be more important than the baking class you took last summer.
- Check for supplements. Although all colleges and universities using the Common App require the same application, certain colleges also ask for supplementary information. Supplemental questions might include additional information about your family or your college plans. To submit the application to an individual college requiring a supplement, both portions must be complete.