Have you heard of the common application?

It’s a way to reduce your paperwork and forcus on important things like essays and exams. These are forms, accepted by nearly 300 schools. If you have shortlisted the colleges you’re applying to and it turns out that a good number of them accept the common application, it might be a good idea to use it. You’ll have to fill in your application only once and then submit it electronically to all schools at once or one at a time.

There’s a good reason to use it – the schools which accept it are trying to get applicants to apply online, so they don’t charge them application fees if they apply online. Of course, if you are a poor guy, you might ask the college to waive your fee ( your school counselor sends a letter called a fee-waiver), but it might be polite to play by the college rules if you are the one who asks for having her fee waived.

As for applying online rather than printing out the forms and mailing them, some of you might be confused by the software (which is not hard to use) or frustrated by some features like smaller essay space, etc. so, you should study the feature carefully and decide for yourself.

Applying through Common Application does not mean you have to write just one essay and send it to all colleges. Many schools ask you to write additional essays and fill in additional forms. These are called supplements.

If you have time to spare to work carefully on each college application, you might wish to apply through the original college applications, not the common one. Some people say that this will show colleges that they really matter. Still I have had students accepted by great schools (Ivies included) through Common App.

The bottom line? No matter what you choose will work if you are a strong applicant and play by the rules 🙂 You might send Common App to some schools and the original apps to other schools. Just make sure you have studied the details carefully.

Here is the website. You might start an account and play with it. You might google the tool to get a second opinion.

Here’s what Yale wrote on their website:

In the 2006-2007 application cycle, more than 90% of our applicants filed their application online.
Yale encourages electronic applications for two reasons: your convenience and our processing speed and accuracy. We know that some college counselors and authors of advice manuals recommend applying on paper in order to enhance formatting and appearance. We believe formatting to be irrelevant to our application evaluation procedure, and again, strongly encourage online submissions from our applicants.

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