Using the CommonApp to Apply to Colleges:
A Guide for Students and Parents
What is the CommonApp? The
CommonApp (CA) is a common format that many colleges use for the
college admission process. It simplifies the college application
process for both students and school staff because students can apply to
multiple colleges with one application process. The CA uses a holistic
How do students get to the CommonApp? Go to www.commonapp.org . From there students will start by making sure they are under the Applicant
tab and then create an account. Students will begin by entering
applicant information followed by information about future plans,
demographics, family, education, academics, extra-curricular and work
experiences, and an essay.
What schools use the CommonApp? There
are approximately 670 universities in the US and around the world that
use the CA. To see if this format is used by schools which interest
your student, go to the website listed above, and under Explore Colleges,
type the name of the school. Make sure to spell and write it correctly
(University of Ohio will yield no results. Ohio State University will
be listed as a member school. Students may also type the city and see a
list of all CA schools in that city.) Many Ohio schools use the CA, but
not all. Some schools require you to use the CA as the only method of
application. Some allow you to use the CA or apply through the college
website. If students will be applying to several schools, it is to
their advantage to use the CA so they only have to answer many of the
application questions once. It is also easier for teachers who have to
write recommendation letters to only have to submit them through the CA
one time. Some of the Ohio CA schools to which many Shawnee students
apply include Bowling Green State University, University
of Cincinnati, University of Dayton, Findlay University, Miami
University, Ohio Northern University, Ohio University, The Ohio State
University (main campus), and University of Toledo.
When can students start applying to colleges with the Common App? August 1, 2016 is the date the CommonApp opens. Students can start now!!!
How long does it take to apply? The
time will vary depending on the number of colleges a student applies to
using this process and if the student has all necessary information
gathered. Students applying to more colleges will require more time.
Plan to have about 1.5 to 2 hours to begin. If students don’t finish,
they can stop and return to the application at a later time. Students
will complete an essay. There are five prompts from which students can
choose and write only one essay. They should not rush through this.
Students can fill out the question and college portions of the process
and add the essay once they have had time to write a thorough,
well-constructed essay that addresses the topic appropriately. Students
should NOT submit their CA application until they have completed ALL
questions, essays, recommenders, and all parts of the applications.
Once students submit their applications, if they find an error or want
to add information, they will need to work with the admission office of
the appropriate schools to make any changes (Students: this does not
look good for you!)
What if students submit their CA application then decide to apply to another school that uses the CommonApp?
They may add schools to their list (without penalty) after the initial
submission date. They just cannot change or correct application answers
What Students Need to Know to Complete the CommonApp:
High School: Shawnee Senior High School
Graduation Date: June 4, 2017
Prior Schools: This is asking for high schools students have attended other than Shawnee.
Counselor Name and email: See attached email list. Use only these email addresses.
Counselor Phone Number: 419-998-8004
School Fax Number: 419-998-8026
CEEB code for Shawnee High School: 362985
How is Class Rank Reported: exact rank
Students will need to see their counselor once school starts to obtain
this information. Seniors will receive a transcript at out first senior
meeting in September which will have this information.
College Credit Awarded: This is asking for post-secondary, dual-enrollment, College Credit Plus or other college courses students have completed in high school.
Students will need to know the number of times they have taken the ACT
or SAT, the dates they tested, sub-scores, composite scores, and dates
they plan to take these tests in the future. Students will need to
access this information from their ACT or SAT account. Most colleges
require having the test information sent directly from the testing
company, not the high school. If students did not have scores sent to
the college when they signed up to test, they will need to contact the
testing company to have scores sent. There is a charge for this.
Students may list up to 10 items. Items that should be listed include:
extra-curricular activities (sports, clubs), church activities,
community service/volunteer experience, work experience. Students will
need to know dates for these items, hours per week and weeks per year.
This is the time to think about all of the honors, experiences, and
activities students have been a part of in high school.
students have more than 10 items, they should prioritize the list to
show leadership, diversity, character, and unique opportunities.
Students should not list activities or honors that occurred prior to the
start of high school.
Essay: There are 5 choices. The student should select one essay for which he can compose a well written, meaningful response.
Individual College Information:
When students list colleges to which they will apply, they should be
aware that each college may have additional questions for the student to
complete. They may also have additional writing prompts. Each college
will list information students need to have sent to them. Students should write this down. They will need to list it on a pink form for their counselor. Once
a student has added college(s), the student must go through the
recommenders and FERPA tab for each college to which they are applying
and add the recommenders. He will only need to answer the questions
regarding waiving FERPA rights once. He will only need to add the
counselor once. All other recommenders must be added individually to
each school. See more information under Recommendations below.
Submitting the CommonApp:
The submission process is a three-step sequence. First students review
a copy of their application. Second, they pay the application fee.
Finally, they sign the affirmation and complete submission. Some
students are stopping the sequence after paying the fee but before
submitting the application. For this reason, it is a good idea for
students to check their Dashboard for confirmation of submission status.
What Students MUST do after Applying:
Once a student has submitted the CommonApp (or applied to a college
through the college website), he will need to complete a pink form in
the guidance office which will inform the guidance office what the
student needs from the counselor. The student will only need to
complete one pink form for all CA schools. An additional pink form must
be completed for each college application that is not done through the
What students should know about the Common App process:
Once students submit the CommonApp, if they need to make a change, they
will need to contact the Office of Admission for each college in order
to make the change. Shawnee counselors cannot do this.
Accurate Information/ Attention to Detail:
Students should be completely honest about all information on the
application. Answering dishonestly may be grounds for denied
admission. Students should take the time to proofread answers (more
than once!) to make sure the application is accurate and error free. Be
thorough but not wordy.
should give careful thought to the teacher(s) they ask to write
recommendations. Teachers write honest assessments of students’
ability, achievement, and motivation. It is better for students to ask
for recommendations from teachers who have good experiences to report.
- Before listing a teacher to provide recommendations, students must
personally ask that teacher if the teacher is willing/able to write the
recommendation. Some teachers get asked to write dozens of letters
(especially near the deadline). Teachers may reach a point where they
simply don’t have enough time to write any more letters. Make sure to
give the teacher at least two weeks before the deadline to write the recommendation. Use the email address listed on the published teacher email list. This is the email that teachers must use.
will need to list the counselor and teacher(s) who will be giving
recommendations. The student must then invite the counselor and
teachers to make the recommendation in the section Recommenders and FERPA
under each individual college added. If a student is using the same
teachers as recommenders for multiple colleges, the student will need to
invite the recommenders for each college. Once the teacher agrees to
give a recommendation, invite them right away. You do not need to be
done with your application to invite the teacher. This gives the
teacher more time to complete the recommendation.
are required to submit a recommendation for each student apart from the
teacher recommendation. If students are asked to submit two
recommendations, realize that the counselors will already be providing
one in addition to any teacher recommendations. Be aware of the number
of recommendations required for each school.
aware of deadlines. Some schools have deadlines as early as November
1. Each school that students apply to may have different deadlines.
Students should invite counselor and teachers well before the FIRST
deadline (Go to My Colleges tab, look under FERPA and Recommendations
tab). Students will be able to see if recommendations have been
submitted. If you see that a recommendation has not been completed,
check with the teacher to make sure the teacher received the email
invitation to make a recommendation.