You have likely heard about the Common Application and have some questions about what it means for your college bound teen. As a general overview, the Common Application officially started in the 70s. The system commonwe know today, however, wasn’t really defined until about 2000. A significant turn for the Common Application then was that the organization determined that its focus would be on holistic college admissions. What that means for you today is that all the colleges that are members of the Common Application have a holistic selection process. Those colleges consider transcripts, test scores, teacher recommendations, essays, activities, and other supplemental materials which give the colleges a more complete perspective on how that student will contribute to the college community.

Here are 3 hot tips every parent will benefit from knowing:

  • Not all colleges are on the Common App – There are over 500 colleges on the Common App, compared to about 2500 4-year colleges. The colleges that are not Common App members can have any selection process that fits their college mission. On the other hand some colleges may have a holistic selection process but may want to use their own systems for managing the volume of applications received.
  • When your teen signs the Common App, they are agreeing that . . .

a) the essays are their own writing,

b) all the information is true (i.e. all test scores and school suspensions must be reported, even if they happen in senior year), and

c) they will only send a deposit to one college when they make their decision.

It’s easy to forget these details when students are excited about their admissions letters, but keep in mind that all admissions decisions are conditional and can be revoked at any time.

  • You can get your own Common App account – I suggest that if parents are curious about what their teen is submitting on the Common App then they can get their own account. This will allow you to understand more about the requirements and stresses of meeting the application deadlines!

This is an exciting time with your college-bound teen. I hope that you will allow your teen to own the process, as you participate in the journey.

What additional questions or thoughts do you have about the Common App?


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