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About US University Application

Find out more about the application process.

Learn more about the Common App portal.

What is Common App?

The Portal to Your US College Education

The Common Application, which is also more informally referred to as the Common App, is an advanced college application that is used to help prospective college students apply to multiple institutions at once. While you cannot apply to every single accredited institution by using this single online application, you can apply to a large number of undergraduate programs all across the world.

The Common Application is more than just an online application, it is a tool that can be used to help solidify a student’s chances of getting into school without spending all of their free time filling out multiple applications. In order to use this universal application to your advantage, you must be wanting to attend a member college or university. There are currently more than 600 members schools that accept the application from the United States and 14 other countries that include Canada, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Korea and China.

Find Out Which Colleges You Can Apply to on the CommonApp

Common App Colleges

Who uses the Common Application?

More than 750 colleges use the Common Application! At least one college in every state accepts it, with the exception of North Dakota. In addition, more than 50 international universities from 19 countries accept the Common Application.

The Common Application is accepted by the following top colleges and universities:

Complete List of Common App Members

Requirements for the Common Application

Begin Your College Application

Create an Account to Start Your Application

create-account
  1. Go to commonapp.org and click the “Create Account” or “Apply Now” buttons to get started.
  2. Select your registration type (e.g. Student, Education Professional, Parent or Other Adult).
  3. Key in your login credentials. Ensure this is an email address you check regularly as it will be CommonApp’s main point of contact with you as well as your CommonApp username.
  4. Input some personal information for your profile. Use your legal name as it appears on official school documents to allow colleges to match these documents with your application accurately.

Documents Required

High school transcripts

List of extracurricular activities

Entrance exam test scores and dates

Legal guardian information

documents-icon

Required Test Scores at Top Colleges

To see the required SAT test scores, click here.

To see the required ACT test scores, click here.

The Ideal Candidate

Why Profiling is Crucial

Highlights of Your Application

The U.S. admissions officers will base their decision roughly on the 60-40 rule. They will accord 60% of the decision-making weight to your academics (including your SAT/ACT score) and the other 40% to your leadership/extracurricular activities.

What U.S. universities look out for in a candidate’s leadership qualities

Developing a niche / spike

Many students and parents have the misconception that U.S. university applicants have to simply commit themselves to many extracurricular activities and community service work.

This is inaccurate: taking a scattergun approach is ineffective. Having worked with many successful U.S. university applicants, we believe that the applicant’s activities must be targeted. In order to tell a compelling story, the applicant has to undertake activities that augment his or her strengths.

leadership-icon

Explore the Essay Questions

College-Specific Essay Questions

Ivy League Colleges

Harvard University
(4 Questions, 350+ words)
  1. …Please use the space below to list additional intellectual activities that you have not mentioned or detailed elsewhere in your application. (150 words)
  2. Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 words)
  3. For students applying from outside the US & Canada:What specific plan do you have, if any, for using the education you hope to receive? (50 words)
  4. The following supplementary essay is optional. Write on any one of the topics below:
  • Unusual circumstances in your life
  • Travel or living experiences in other countries
  • What you would want your future roommate to know about you
  • An intellectual that has meant the most to you
  • How you hope to use your college education
  • A list of books you have read during the past twelve months
  • …reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
  • …What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?
Yale University
(3 Questions, 765 words)
  1. What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?(125 words)
  2. Please respond in no more than 35 words to each of the following questions:
    • What inspires you? (35 words)
    • Yale’s residential colleges regularly host intimate conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask? (35 words)
    • You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called? (35 words)
    • Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six people. What would you contribute to the dynamic of your suite? (35 words)
  3. Please choose two of the following topics and respond to each in 250 words or fewer.
    • What do you most enjoy learning? (250 words)
    • Reflect on your engagement with a community to which you belong. How do you feel you have contributed to this community? (250 words)
    • Write about something you would like us to know about you that you have not conveyed elsewhere in your application. (250 words)
To view more college specific essay questions, click on the button below.

Common Pitfalls of a University Application

Typical Application Challenges

An Insight Into Why Some Applications Fall Flat

Admissions to U.S. universities has never been more competitive and daunting. As a potential college applicant, you have to—successfully—juggle three things: the intense AP revision (or the A Levels/IB), your rigorous extracurricular activities and, to top it all off, the demanding SAT/ACT preparation. The last thing on your mind is to sit down, reflect, plan and then pen your college admissions essays.

 

While we are at it, it is extremely difficult to write a brilliant admissions essay: you have to research the university thoroughly, reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, and write in a way that balances gravity with humour.

 

In order to illustrate just how difficult the admissions process is, we have identified three common pitfalls.

  1. How Many / Which Universities should I apply to?
  2. How do I dazzle the admissions officers?
  3. Who should I seek recommendation letters from?

1. How many / Which university courses should I apply to?

Anybody looking at the list of U.S. universities would be stumped. The list seems to go on and on.

 

The first common error that students make is to either apply to too many or too few universities. The second error, which is graver, is to apply to a wrong mixture of schools. This is why we advise our clients to diversify their choices, to ensure the perfect balance between their “dream”, “match” and “safety” schools.

 

But, the question of what is a “perfect balance” is difficult for most to answer.

2. How do I dazzle the admissions officers?

Harvard College recently reported a record number of 42,742 applicants for the class of ’22. Picture this: 42,742 applicants, all possessing a range of diverse talents, near-perfect SAT/ACT scores, and outstanding academic track records, vying for that 2000+ spots. The stakes are high and the margin for error is razor thin.

 

This is why applicants have to distinguish themselves through their essays, by narrating their stories compellingly and vividly. This is no mean feat. Our experience tells us that our clients often do not know, or often overlook, the stories of their lives that set them apart.

3. Who should I seek recommendation letters from?

recommendation-letter icon

Obtaining teachers’ letters of recommendation also requires careful consideration. Admissions officers care (a lot) about these because they are the most personal and objective assessment of a student’s abilities and potential.

 

Even if you overcome the “who to approach” obstacle, the next hurdle is even harder: figuring out what to tell your teachers. Many students simply assume that because the teacher has taught the student before, the teacher has a good understanding of the student’s background. That is wrong. Teachers at high schools these days have many students under their charge; it would be impossible for them to keep track of every single student’s achievements.

 

For a student to obtain a superb letter of recommendation, he or she must know how and what to inform his or her teacher.

“But, I have an admissions tutor!”

Most students retort to the above pitfalls by suggesting that they have an admissions tutor in school. Of course, with more students applying for tertiary studies overseas, most high schools now have a dedicated admissions counsellor (or a department of them).

 

However, as a lot of our clients have given us the feedback that because the attention of an admissions counsellor is divided amongst so many students, he or she is bound to dispense advice in the most cursory manner.

candidates-b&w-icon

Take a look at some frequently asked questions regarding the US Uni Application Process.

FAQs

FAQs about US University Admissions

How do I fill out the Common App?
Start by going to the Common Application’s official website and creating a free account. Once you have created your account, you can add schools to your application. Each school you add will have an application fee ranging from $25 - $90.

For more information about the CommonApp, click here.
What are some of the requirements for my Common App submission?
To see the requirements on the Common App, please click here.
Must I use the Common App?
Not necessarily. The Common Application covers 693 colleges and universities, including all eight of the Ivy League colleges, however all of the schools you are applying to may not be on it. Double check that the schools you are applying to are covered by the Common App before you begin working on your Personal Statement essay.

For a list of universities that use the Common App, click here.
Where do I begin if I am just getting started with my college applications?
For starters, you’ve definitely come to the right place! Explore our site to find out more about the application process to US universities. Another great way to start your applications is by receiving a free college consultation. Speak with our university consultants or take a diagnostic test with us to assess how much preparation you would require for your university application.

To schedule a free university consultation, click here.
What are some areas that admissions officers pay attention to in my application?
There are academic and non-academic attributes of your application that admissions officers use as a gauge to determine how you fare against other applicants.

To find out more about what elements you should heighten in your profile, click here.
What are some common struggles that students face with their university application?
One common area in which students’ applications tend to fall flat is a lack of personalization and failing to highlight their individual strengths to make themselves stand out.

To understand more about some challenges students face, click here.
How do I know what writing requirements are necessary for the schools I am applying to?
The Common App allows you to easily track each of your school's requirements via your student dashboard. From the dashboard, you can click on the “Writing Requirements” tab to view further details regarding the personal essay and writing requirements for any of the colleges you're applying to.

Take note that some, but not all, colleges require the submission of your personal essay with your Common Application. You may choose to submit a personal essay to any college, even if they do not require it. If it is not required by that college, you will be given the option during the submission process to include your essay (or not).

For a list of the college specific questions, click here.

Common App

Learn more about the Common App portal.

What is Common App?

The Portal to Your US College Education

The Common Application, which is also more informally referred to as the Common App, is an advanced college application that is used to help prospective college students apply to multiple institutions at once. While you cannot apply to every single accredited institution by using this single online application, you can apply to a large number of undergraduate programs all across the world.

The Common Application is more than just an online application, it is a tool that can be used to help solidify a student’s chances of getting into school without spending all of their free time filling out multiple applications. In order to use this universal application to your advantage, you must be wanting to attend a member college or university. There are currently more than 600 members schools that accept the application from the United States and 14 other countries that include Canada, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Korea and China.

Find Out Which Colleges You Can Apply to on the CommonApp

Common App Colleges

Who uses the Common Application?

More than 750 colleges use the Common Application! At least one college in every state accepts it, with the exception of North Dakota. In addition, more than 50 international universities from 19 countries accept the Common Application.

The Common Application is accepted by the following top colleges and universities:

Complete List of Common App Members
Application

Requirements for the Common Application

Begin Your College Application

Create an Account to Start Your Application

create-account
  1. Go to commonapp.org and click the “Create Account” or “Apply Now” buttons to get started.
  2. Select your registration type (e.g. Student, Education Professional, Parent or Other Adult).
  3. Key in your login credentials. Ensure this is an email address you check regularly as it will be CommonApp’s main point of contact with you as well as your CommonApp username.
  4. Input some personal information for your profile. Use your legal name as it appears on official school documents to allow colleges to match these documents with your application accurately.

Documents Required

High school transcripts

List of extracurricular activities

Entrance exam test scores and dates

Legal guardian information

documents-icon

Required Test Scores at Top Colleges

To see the required SAT test scores, click here.

To see the required ACT test scores, click here.

Profiling

The Ideal Candidate

Why Profiling is Crucial

Highlights of Your Application

The U.S. admissions officers will base their decision roughly on the 60-40 rule. They will accord 60% of the decision-making weight to your academics (including your SAT/ACT score) and the other 40% to your leadership/extracurricular activities.

What U.S. universities look out for in a candidate’s leadership qualities

Developing a niche / spike

Many students and parents have the misconception that U.S. university applicants have to simply commit themselves to many extracurricular activities and community service work.

This is inaccurate: taking a scattergun approach is ineffective. Having worked with many successful U.S. university applicants, we believe that the applicant’s activities must be targeted. In order to tell a compelling story, the applicant has to undertake activities that augment his or her strengths.

leadership-icon
Essay Questions

Explore the Essay Questions

College-Specific Essay Questions

Ivy League Colleges

Harvard University
(4 Questions, 350+ words)
  1. …Please use the space below to list additional intellectual activities that you have not mentioned or detailed elsewhere in your application. (150 words)
  2. Please briefly elaborate on one of your extracurricular activities or work experiences. (150 words)
  3. For students applying from outside the US & Canada:What specific plan do you have, if any, for using the education you hope to receive? (50 words)
  4. The following supplementary essay is optional. Write on any one of the topics below:
  • Unusual circumstances in your life
  • Travel or living experiences in other countries
  • What you would want your future roommate to know about you
  • An intellectual that has meant the most to you
  • How you hope to use your college education
  • A list of books you have read during the past twelve months
  • …reflect on a time when you or someone you observed had to make a choice about whether to act with integrity and honesty.
  • …What would you do to contribute to the lives of your classmates in advancing this mission?
Yale University
(3 Questions, 765 words)
  1. What is it about Yale that has led you to apply?(125 words)
  2. Please respond in no more than 35 words to each of the following questions:
    • What inspires you? (35 words)
    • Yale’s residential colleges regularly host intimate conversations with guests representing a wide range of experiences and accomplishments. What person, past or present, would you invite to speak? What question would you ask? (35 words)
    • You are teaching a Yale course. What is it called? (35 words)
    • Most first-year Yale students live in suites of four to six people. What would you contribute to the dynamic of your suite? (35 words)
  3. Please choose two of the following topics and respond to each in 250 words or fewer.
    • What do you most enjoy learning? (250 words)
    • Reflect on your engagement with a community to which you belong. How do you feel you have contributed to this community? (250 words)
    • Write about something you would like us to know about you that you have not conveyed elsewhere in your application. (250 words)
To view more college specific essay questions, click on the button below.
Challenges

Common Pitfalls of a University Application

Typical Application Challenges

An Insight Into Why Some Applications Fall Flat

Admissions to U.S. universities has never been more competitive and daunting. As a potential college applicant, you have to—successfully—juggle three things: the intense AP revision (or the A Levels/IB), your rigorous extracurricular activities and, to top it all off, the demanding SAT/ACT preparation. The last thing on your mind is to sit down, reflect, plan and then pen your college admissions essays.

 

While we are at it, it is extremely difficult to write a brilliant admissions essay: you have to research the university thoroughly, reflect on your strengths and weaknesses, and write in a way that balances gravity with humour.

 

In order to illustrate just how difficult the admissions process is, we have identified three common pitfalls.

  1. How Many / Which Universities should I apply to?
  2. How do I dazzle the admissions officers?
  3. Who should I seek recommendation letters from?

1. How many / Which university courses should I apply to?

Anybody looking at the list of U.S. universities would be stumped. The list seems to go on and on.

 

The first common error that students make is to either apply to too many or too few universities. The second error, which is graver, is to apply to a wrong mixture of schools. This is why we advise our clients to diversify their choices, to ensure the perfect balance between their “dream”, “match” and “safety” schools.

 

But, the question of what is a “perfect balance” is difficult for most to answer.

2. How do I dazzle the admissions officers?

Harvard College recently reported a record number of 42,742 applicants for the class of ’22. Picture this: 42,742 applicants, all possessing a range of diverse talents, near-perfect SAT/ACT scores, and outstanding academic track records, vying for that 2000+ spots. The stakes are high and the margin for error is razor thin.

 

This is why applicants have to distinguish themselves through their essays, by narrating their stories compellingly and vividly. This is no mean feat. Our experience tells us that our clients often do not know, or often overlook, the stories of their lives that set them apart.

3. Who should I seek recommendation letters from?

recommendation-letter icon

Obtaining teachers’ letters of recommendation also requires careful consideration. Admissions officers care (a lot) about these because they are the most personal and objective assessment of a student’s abilities and potential.

 

Even if you overcome the “who to approach” obstacle, the next hurdle is even harder: figuring out what to tell your teachers. Many students simply assume that because the teacher has taught the student before, the teacher has a good understanding of the student’s background. That is wrong. Teachers at high schools these days have many students under their charge; it would be impossible for them to keep track of every single student’s achievements.

 

For a student to obtain a superb letter of recommendation, he or she must know how and what to inform his or her teacher.

“But, I have an admissions tutor!”

Most students retort to the above pitfalls by suggesting that they have an admissions tutor in school. Of course, with more students applying for tertiary studies overseas, most high schools now have a dedicated admissions counsellor (or a department of them).

 

However, as a lot of our clients have given us the feedback that because the attention of an admissions counsellor is divided amongst so many students, he or she is bound to dispense advice in the most cursory manner.

candidates-b&w-icon
FAQs

Take a look at some frequently asked questions regarding the US Uni Application Process.

FAQs

FAQs about US University Admissions

How do I fill out the Common App?
Start by going to the Common Application’s official website and creating a free account. Once you have created your account, you can add schools to your application. Each school you add will have an application fee ranging from $25 - $90.

For more information about the CommonApp, click here.
What are some of the requirements for my Common App submission?
To see the requirements on the Common App, please click here.
Must I use the Common App?
Not necessarily. The Common Application covers 693 colleges and universities, including all eight of the Ivy League colleges, however all of the schools you are applying to may not be on it. Double check that the schools you are applying to are covered by the Common App before you begin working on your Personal Statement essay.

For a list of universities that use the Common App, click here.
Where do I begin if I am just getting started with my college applications?
For starters, you’ve definitely come to the right place! Explore our site to find out more about the application process to US universities. Another great way to start your applications is by receiving a free college consultation. Speak with our university consultants or take a diagnostic test with us to assess how much preparation you would require for your university application.

To schedule a free university consultation, click here.
What are some areas that admissions officers pay attention to in my application?
There are academic and non-academic attributes of your application that admissions officers use as a gauge to determine how you fare against other applicants.

To find out more about what elements you should heighten in your profile, click here.
What are some common struggles that students face with their university application?
One common area in which students’ applications tend to fall flat is a lack of personalization and failing to highlight their individual strengths to make themselves stand out.

To understand more about some challenges students face, click here.
How do I know what writing requirements are necessary for the schools I am applying to?
The Common App allows you to easily track each of your school's requirements via your student dashboard. From the dashboard, you can click on the “Writing Requirements” tab to view further details regarding the personal essay and writing requirements for any of the colleges you're applying to.

Take note that some, but not all, colleges require the submission of your personal essay with your Common Application. You may choose to submit a personal essay to any college, even if they do not require it. If it is not required by that college, you will be given the option during the submission process to include your essay (or not).

For a list of the college specific questions, click here.