Application Guide for First Time Students:
- Gathering their materials (any and all information needed for an application)
- A copy of their high school transcript
- In the Education section your child will enter their high school grades and current courses. Some colleges also need them to self report their high school transcript. They can check out the Courses & Grades section to learn more.
- A list of their activities, work, and family responsibilities
- Your child can share their interests and who they are outside of the classroom in the activities section. They can share information about things like work, hobbies, clubs, and community engagement. This is the place to show colleges what makes them unique!
- Test scores and dates from you child’s college entrance exams (SATs, ACTs, etc.)
- Your child may self-report scores for any standardized tests in the Testing section. Every college has different testing requirements. Some colleges will always need their test scores. Other colleges may be flexible or have a test optional policy. Be sure they check the Testing policy of the colleges on their list
- Parent/Legal guardian information
- Many colleges collect this information in the Family section for demographic purposes. College board will ask for your occupation, employment status, and education level. If applicable, they will also ask which college(s) you have attended and how many degrees you have earned
- Academic honors and achievements
- The Activities section isn’t the only place to show your child’s passion and where they excel! They will also have the chance to share any academic honors or achievements from high school
- Create an account
- Have your child choose their registration type.
- If they’re applying to college for the first time they’ll select the “First Year Student” button.
- Provide their login credentials.
- Make sure you child uses an email address they check often. This is the email the Common App and colleges will use to get in touch with them.
- Complete registration information.
- College board will need some basic information about your child like their name, home address, phone number, and date of birth.
- Be sure they use their legal name as it appears on official school documents and standardized tests. This will make sure colleges can match documents to the correct person.
- Select “Create Account” to complete the account.
- Add Colleges
- The College Search tab is where your child will search for and add the colleges they want to apply to. If they have a school in mind, they can search by name. If your child wants to keep exploring, they can use the more filters button. Some filters include:
- State or country
- Distance from a zip code
- Enrollment term
- Application deadline
- Application fees*
- Writing requirements
- Standardized testing policy
- Recommendation requirement
Adding a college is easy! Your child may add a college using the add button in the search results list. They can also select a college and add them using the “Add to My Colleges” button from their info screen.
Once they’ve added colleges, they can see them on your Dashboard and in their My Colleges tab. Keep in mind students may only add up to 20 colleges. They may adjust their list of colleges at any time.
* While some colleges may charge an application fee, others have no fee to apply. And, many will offer fee waivers under certain circumstances, including financial need, veteran status, and more.
- Engage Supporters
- Counselors, teachers, and recommenders will submit these kinds of forms on your child’s behalf. Here are the types of recommenders they can invite in the Common App.
- Counselors share their perspective using the context of the entire graduating class. They also submit the School Report and transcripts.
- You will only need to submit a form if your child applies using a college’s early decision deadline. You will fill out part of their early decision agreement.
- Teachers give a firsthand account of your child’s intellectual curiosity and creative thought
- Other Reccomenders
- Other recommenders are usually non academic recommenders like coaches, employers, and peers. They give insight into your child’s interests and activities outside of the classroom
- Advisors do not submit any forms. They track and check in on your child’s application progress.
- Understanding Requirements
- Each college needs your child to complete common questions and add counselor. Beyond that their applications vary. Each college can determine their unique requirements for:
- Application Fees
- Personal Essay
- Courses & Grades
- Test Policy
- Writing Supplements
Here are some places where they can find each college’s specific requirements:
- Explore Colleges
- Each college’s Explore Colleges profile provides lots of information about the college. Students can find details on application information, campus culture, scheduling visits, and more.
- My colleges
- In the My Colleges or College Search tab, your child can learn more using a school’s college information page. Here they can see requirements for testing, writing, deadlines, and more
- Requirements Grid
- The requirements grid is a comprehensive PDF that lists all the colleges that use the Common App and their requirements. Your child can also find the grid within the application.
- Writing Requirements by College
- College Board maintains a list of all Common App colleges and their essay prompts. This resource will help as your child begins planning their essays. For more help on planning essays, check out College Board’s essay planning worksheet.
- Plan Essays
- Common app personal essay:
- Colleges can either make the personal essay optional or required. In the writing section of your child’s Common App tab, they will see a table that lists each college’s requirements.
- College-specific Questions
- Many colleges include short answer questions or essay prompts within this section. Your child can find specific information about each college’s individual writing prompts here.
- Writing Supplements:
- Some colleges use a separate writing supplement. Not all colleges have a writing supplement. Some colleges only request this supplement based on how your child answers other questions. They can find more information about writing supplements on the Dashboard or on their My Colleges tab.
- Submit your Application
Submission is a three-step process:
1) Reviewing their application.
2) Paying the application fee.*
3) Submitting their application.