New Call-to-action

The Common Application for Undergraduate College Admissions

Tue, May 08, 2012 @ 12:34 PM

Common ApplicationChanges to the 2012-2013 Common Application

The Common Application, referred to by many as the "Common App," allows college-bound students to apply easily to nearly 500 participating schools using a standardized form and essay questions (some schools do require supplements – read the fine print!). In 2011, nearly 2.5 million Common Apps were submitted by students from 205 countries, with the average student applying to more than four schools. The Common App recently previewed changes to the 2012-2013 edition, including the addition of 37 new schools. In fact the number of schools utilizing the Common Application has grown more than 20 percent in the past two years!

Last year, the Common Application made some significant changes, including a reduction in the number of spaces for students to report extracurricular activities and the imposition of a word limit on the personal statement. The good news for this year’s applicants is that the updated version includes no major changes, but still, it is important for students to understand the changes and why these updates were made. The expert counselors at IvyWise are here to explain these slight changes and what they mean for your application process.

The wording of several questions has been updated to give students an opportunity to provide more details.

  • A new space allows students to report their parents' former last names, if applicable.

  • You must provide additional details about the setting and type of any college courses you have taken so far. Instead of just listing the course, you must check the following boxes that apply to each course: taught on college campus, taught on high school campus (excluding AP and IB), taught online, college credit awarded, transcript available, and degree candidate.

The more information you can provide about yourself, your interests, your background, and your goals, the better! Use each question on the application to highlight a new piece of information about yourself so that admissions committees receive the best, and most accurate, portrayal of who you are.

Similarly, the wording of several questions has been updated to clarify what information is being requested from students.

  • The application asks for "academic summer schools," instead of just "summer schools." 

  • The wording used to request a student's current/senior year courses has been updated.

Your high school guidance counselor has more options.

One of your high school guidance counselor's many roles is to write a letter of recommendation for you for all of your college applications. This is one reason why it is so important to nurture a relationship with this person throughout your time in high school! This year, the Common Application provides high school counselors some additional options:

a.   I do not have sufficient personal knowledge of this student.
b.   The demands of my counseling load do not afford me sufficient time.

Remember, while the Common Application is a useful tool for applying to many colleges, it is important to look at each school you are applying to as the unique institution that it is. Know why you are applying to a particular school and focus on conveying that in your application. Put your best foot forward by also carefully following all directions for both the Common Application and each supplement.

Sarah Shanahan

Written by Sarah Shanahan

Lists by Topic

see all

Posts by Topic

see all

Recent Posts