A Gateway to College Admissions: Common Application

By Dr Gina La Monica

August 1 is just around the corner when the Common App (Common App) opens for the Fall 2022 class. However, you can now work on many sections, which will be renewed on opening day. The Common Application is a portal serving more than 900 universities around the world. While there are other college admission portals to use, this site is the most comprehensive with partnerships with the majority of colleges except public institutions, which often have their own admission portal.

When creating an account on this site, the first step is to select the colleges you want to attend by going to the college search tab. Once you’ve chosen the schools, you can click on each one to see the different due dates, including whether the college has an Early Action (EA) or an Advance Ruling (ED). As I indicated in my previous columns, it pays to apply EA where possible and ED if there is a “dream” college.

After you have selected your colleges and noted all the due dates, the next step is to complete the profile aspect of the common application. You should allow at least two hours for this section. It is of the utmost importance to complete this part in detail without taking any shortcuts. Admissions staff can immediately tell who the conscientious students are among those who carelessly prepared their applications.

In the profile section of the common application, you will find drop-down menu items as well as answers to fill out. When filling in the blanks, be sure to spell each word correctly, don’t use abbreviations, and note which words should be capitalized.

One section of the common application that can be time consuming is the activities section. Be strategic about which ones you mention first of the ten allowed. You can use the arrows on the right side to organize the list. Since admissions staff can only spend 5-8 minutes on each request, list those that can have the most impact first. The activities in which you have been involved for many years should be higher than those in which you have spent less time. For example, if you are an accomplished pianist and played this instrument for all four years of high school, list this activity first. Whereas, if you were on the swim team for a semester, list this activity last. Athletics, leadership roles, volunteer work, internships, and employment are all great activities to document in this section.

Each activity also requires information about your role or leadership position as well as the name of the organization and description of the activity. Here is your chance to share with admissions staff what roles you have held, how you have grown as a result of these experiences, and what you have accomplished. The common app only gives you 150 characters; therefore, in a concise format, describe what you have done and accomplished. For example, an internship position in a medical office might involve multitasking by answering the phone while helping patients improve their time management and organizational skills. Each activity listed should highlight different skills and characteristics detailing your strengths.

The Common app also has a section where you list your classes and grades from high school and community college. Be sure to write down the exact course titles that appear on your transcripts; do not abbreviate any words. Official transcripts will be required upon admission to college.

I’ll explain how to write a winning essay for the Common Application in the next column, along with other questions colleges might ask you to answer. Finally, there is a section on the common app to add your recommendations, such as a teacher, employer or coach. Be selective about who you ask to write a recommendation letter and ask early. If possible, choose a teacher from your major who can better articulate your academic achievements. An employer or coach can serve as a second referral expressing complementary characteristics and valuable life skills.

Common application can be overwhelming if completed in one sitting, so it may be beneficial to complete each of the longer sections separately. It is strongly recommended that you copy all content, especially the activities section, to a Google docs so that you can easily access the information for another college admissions portal, such as the UC portal. Before hitting the submit button, have other people review your joint application to make sure there are no errors. You can view each section in the “Preview” mode.

Start now on the common application. August will be here before you know it.


Dr. Gina La Monica holds a PhD in Education and has worked as a high school counselor, college administrator, and professor at many universities and colleges including University of California Los Angeles, California Lutheran University, California State University, Northridge, San Diego. State University, etc. She was a full professor and expert in vocational technical education and adult learning. She currently teaches at a local college and helps students of all ages from kindergarten to college level explore careers, enroll in college, assess learning, tutor and plan their own. studies.

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Dr Gina La Monica

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