What is the Common Application and How Does it Work?
The Common Application (informally known as the Common App) is an undergraduate college admission application that applicants may use to apply to any of 517 member colleges and universities in 47 states and the District of Columbia, as well as in Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and United Kingdom. It is managed by the staff of a not-for-profit membership association (The Common Application, Inc.) and governed by a 13-member volunteer Board of Directors drawn from the ranks of college admission deans and secondary school college guidance counselors. Its mission is to encourage the use of “holistic admission” a process that includes subjective factors gleaned from essays and recommendations alongside more objective criteria such as class rank and standardized testing.
Member institutions may also require a “Common App Supplement,” and ask additional questions, with only two restrictions: 1) supplement questions may not re-ask questions already asked on the Common Application (except identifying information like name, address, date of birth, etc.), and 2) supplement questions may not ask questions that violate the NACAC Statement of Principles and Good Practice (such as “please rank order your college choices.”).