The Common Application (known as the Common App) is a web-based undergraduate college admission application used to apply to any of more than 450 member colleges and universities in the United States and abroad.
Designed to simplify and streamline the process, the Common Application contains various sections that are typically completed online. The application includes areas to fill out: personal, family, and educational data, future plans, standardized testing information, academic honors, extracurricular activities, work experience, a short answer essay, a longer personal essay, criminal background, those providing teacher and counselor evaluations and additional information such as a high school resume or an explanation.
All member colleges and universities agree to use a holistic evaluation method that takes essays, activities and recommendations into consideration. Colleges that base admissions decisions primarily on GPA and entrance exam scores cannot be members of the Common Application group. Almost all of the most selective colleges and top universities use the Common Application.
In addition to the basic elements of the Common App, many member institutions require supplements (e.g. school-specific additional questions and essays) that are typically integrated with, and submitted via, the Common Application website.
Lynn Radlauer Lubell, Publisher of InLikeMe.com and Founder of Admission By Design, an Educational Consultancy based in Boca Raton, Florida.