When and How to Use the Common Application

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  • 0:02 The Common Application
  • 0:53 Who Accepts It?
  • 2:20 Requirements
  • 4:22 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Applying to college can be an overwhelming process. To make it simpler, many schools accept the common application. Watch this lesson to find out what the common application is, who accepts it, and what the requirements are.

The Common Application

Chris is getting ready to apply to college, and he's a little overwhelmed. There are so many different things to fill out. He has several different colleges he's applying to, and he's struggling to keep track of all of the different applications.

But Chris' guidance counselor suggested that Chris check out whether the schools he's applying to will accept the common application, which is a single college application accepted by over 500 colleges. In other words, if his schools accept the common application, Chris can fill out just that one application and then submit it to the schools.

If he doesn't use the common application, though, Chris will end up filling out a different application each time. That can be very time consuming! Let's take a closer look at the common application, including who accepts it and what's required of students, like Chris, who fill it out.

Who Accepts It?

So, Chris wants to use the common application. But can he? The first thing he should do is to check with the colleges to which he's going to apply to see if they accept the common application. Though many colleges do, some do not, so Chris will want to know that upfront. If a college does not accept the common application, he will have to use the individual school's application instead.

Still, even if one or two of Chris' potential schools don't accept the common application, but more than one does accept it, it might be a great time-saver for him. He should visit the school's website or contact the office of admissions to find out if the schools he's applying to accept the common application. He can also go onto the common application website to see if the college is listed.

Which schools accept it? There are hundreds of schools that do, and they vary widely. From small private schools to large public colleges, there are many different types of schools that accept it. But the one thing that they all have in common is that they all do holistic admissions. That is, they look at many different aspects of a college application, including essay and letters of recommendation, not just at GPA and SAT scores. In other words, if Chris decides to use the common application, he'll be applying to schools that are going to try to look at many different aspects of him, not just how he did on a test or in high school classes.


As you might guess, because the common application is used by holistic admissions schools, it requires more than just the basic information of GPA and SAT or ACT scores. When Chris fills out the common application, he will need to provide:

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