Save Time Applying to College with The Common Application

We can always use more time, right? How many times have we said “I wish there were more time,” or “There just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done”? Let me tell you, applying to college is complex and takes a lot of time, especially if you are applying to multiple colleges. Typically, when applying to college you have to submit multiple items such as application, essay, short answer questions, test scores, recommendations, references, and transcripts to multiple colleges. That is a lot, am I right? Here’s the thing, what if I were to tell you by using The Common Application you will be able to save time when applying to college? Keep reading and I will tell you how you can save time.

What is The Common Application?

 Completing college applications is complex and takes time. Most students are applying to multiple colleges resulting in multiple applications with the same information. The Common Application eliminates all of this and saves time. Learn more about The Common Application and how it works. See how you can save time with The Common Application before deciding how you will apply to college.

Have you ever heard the saying “Work Smarter, Not Harder”? Well that pretty much sums up The Common Application. It is an application system with the purpose of helping students apply to over more than 700 colleges using only one application for admission and the same personal essay. Essentially The Common Application is a one stop shop for all your college application needs. This innovative organization has created one application that can be submitted to multiple colleges. Yeah, you read that right, one application for many colleges! Just think about it, your child has a list of seven schools they are interested in. By using The Common Application they don’t have to complete seven college applications. Most college applications are the same anyway consisting mainly of information on your student’s background, education, and extracurricular activities. That is not all The Common Application does either. It also helps your student stay on task by keeping track of deadlines from each college as well as school specific requirements.

Related Post: When to Apply to College

How The Common Application Works

  It is an application system with the purpose of helping students apply to over more than 700 colleges using only one application for admission and the same personal essay. Essentially The Common Application is a one stop shop for all your college application needs. This innovative organization has created one application that can be submitted to multiple colleges.

Here’s how the common app works. Before getting started, I would highly recommend that you first have a list of colleges your student is interested in and second, go to The Common Application website to see if the colleges in which your student is interested are members of The Common Application. When working with our clients at All*Star Financial Aid, we create an application checklist. This checklist consists of an individual check-sheet for each college listing all the requirements for admission for each college in which our client is interested in applying. When creating the checklist we always check to see if the college is a member of The Common Application and if so it is indicated on the checklist. 

After confirming that your student’s college list consists of The Common Application colleges, you and your student are ready to create an account. Once an account is created, your student can then begin adding colleges on their list using the “college search” tab. After your student has added colleges, go to the “my college” tab. This is where you and your student will view each college’s requirements and your student’s completion status for each requirement.  Don’t get overwhelmed because it will look like a lot at first but that is okay because everything you and your student need to know is in one location instead of pulling information from multiple college websites yourself. After checking out the requirements the next thing to do is go to the “common app” tab and complete all of the background information.

The application portion of The Common Application will take time to complete. Look on the positive side, it is one application and not multiple! Make sure you and your student set aside uninterrupted time to complete this portion. The application consists of six sections with multiple subsections. The six sections are profile, family, education, testing, activities, and writing. I would strongly recommend gathering the necessary information needed for each section before your student completes this portion of the application. Your student will definitely need help on the family section of the application.

A few things your student could do before they begin completing the application is create a high school resume and complete their personal essay. The high school resume should list honors, extracurricular activities and community service. Most colleges require a personal essay and exclusively use the writing prompts from The Common Application. Your student’s essay should consist of 250-650 words on one of these prompts 2018 – 2019 Common Application Essay Prompts.

Once you have completed the application portion you are probably 70% complete. The next thing to do is complete the individual questions for each college, sign the FERPA release, and add your required recommenders. Piece of cake, it sounds like a lot but I’m telling you having all the college requirements, deadlines, and being able to notify your references all in one location is pretty fantastic.

Related Post: Two Reasons Why a High School Resume is Important

Pros and Cons of The Common Application

 The Common Application has many pros and some cons. The biggest pro is saving time applying to college. The overall system is user friendly. It is loaded full of helpful answers and video tutorials.


It will provide you with a bird’s eye view as to the requirements for each college applying to and keeping track of completed and incomplete requirements as well as deadlines.

It will make you feel more organized during the admissions process because everything you need to complete for the application portion of your admission file is listed right there.

It will support you by having the capability of adding an advisor. The advisor section can be use to add a parent, counselor, or consultant. They will see the status of the common app, check on how things are progressing, and review work.

It will give you ease when you have a question or don’t understand something, you can refer to the instructions and help side bar. If further information is needed you will be directed to a selected topic page that answers your question.

It will present you with simplicity by offering video tutorials for each section of the common app.

It will inform you of information about financial aid for each college. Through the financial aid resources tab, under apply for aid, links to the financial aid page for each college is provided.


It may provide some confusion when you complete the common app section. You may think your application is complete but it really isn’t because there are additional questions and possibly other requirements for each college. The great thing is it won’t let you submit your application until everything is completed.

It could present confusion with so many different sections accessing the same information between the dashboard and my college tabs.

It doesn’t quite communicate that your student will be required to individually submit transcripts, official test scores, and possibly mid-year reports outside of The Common Application.

I would recommend The Common Application for our clients at All*Star Financial Aid. Only having one college application to complete and one personal essay to write is incentive enough!

There are no affiliate links in this post. We are not affiliated with The Common Application in any way. This post is strictly to inform you of what The Common Application offers and how you can save time applying to college.

So what do you think? Are you going to use The Common Application or individually apply to each college?