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Common Application - A Simple Guide to College Admissions

Ross Blankenship
 


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The Common Application is geared towards helping a student find and apply to universities online. Currently they have over 300 colleges and universities to apply to including Ivy League schools such as Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Princeton and others. In order for a college or university to become a member of the Common Application, they have to meet certain criteria. Some of those criteria include offering undergraduate degrees, maintaining non-profit status, and being in good standing with NACAC (National Association for College Admissions). The college or university must be accredited. A major requirement is that they must include all of the following in their admission process and evaluation:

  • An untimed graded paper or essay of at least 250 words.
  • A college recommendation from a school teacher or counselor. This can be a letter or on a form that allows for a lot of personal comments and remarks.
  • Have a process that allows for student diversity.

Before you start, however, be sure that your computer meets their specifications or you will run into trouble. You must be using IE 5.0 or greater or one of the following browsers - Safari, Firefox or Netscape 8. In addition, your browser must be java enabled.

Now that you know the technical requirements, let's look at how to fill out the application. First, register with the Common Application organization by supplying basic information such as name, address, birth date, and gender. Select a user name and password and decide if you want to receive emails from colleges prior to submitting an application. Once you submit the registration form, you should get confirmation emails so that they know you really wanted to register. You will then be brought to their instruction page. I would recommend reading this thoroughly as it will make submitting your application error-free easier later on.

Start your application in the BIO section. This is the easiest part of the application process. All you are doing is answering questions about yourself. If a field is required, it will be followed by a yellow dot. These answers are very simple and it's best to get them out of the way. The first two pages are a breeze.

The third page is where you start having to make choices. They ask you what your possible majors and career paths might be. You can choose up to three majors and one career plan (from drop down menus). Give this some thought before you answer. Think about what you really want to do or study. Where does your passion lie? Is it music, art, science, math, language? You may want to consult a professional college admissions counselor to help you decide this. Then you go on to answer questions about financial need, and your current high school. There is a place to enter all awards and for advanced courses. You have only 500 characters to enter awards, certificates, etc. List them separated by commas, not on individual lines. When you have filled out the form, you can print it out for a preview before you send it off to colleges.

A great way to be sure that you have filled this form out correctly is to have a college admissions counselor look over the printed rough draft with you, or you can hire a professional admissions counselor who will absolutely make sure the application is perfect.

There will be an area that deals with the essay on the common application. The questions and prompts are listed. Print them out and study them. Take a lot of time developing your essay. Get a good grammar book and be sure to use it. Relying solely on your spell checker and grammar checker included with MS Word will get you into trouble unless you have it well customized. This is another area where good admissions advice will help you get admitted to the college of your choice instead of going to the local community college.

Now that you know about Common Application and how to use it, you can streamline your college application process, get admissions counseling and write the perfect essay. Developing a great common application will help when you are getting college counseling and should help you get into top colleges.

Ross Blankenship is an Author and Director of http://www.TopTestPrep.com Ross helps students and parents achieve their admissions goals, and has TopTestPrep, which offers SSAT, SAT, ACT, LSAT, GMAT, GRE and MCAT tutoring.

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