The Common App is intended to save you time, energy, and stress in the college application process. It is meant to streamline all of your biographical, educational, and extracurricular information into one application that can be sent to all colleges.
But there are always questions. Here are answers to the top ten questions we encounter on an annual basis.
Should I put my Religion or Ethnicity, or should I leave it blank?
For most students, there are usually going to be clues about your religion or ethnicity on the application, especially on your Activities page. There is no point trying to hide it when admissions officers are going to figure it out anyways.
Plus, if you leave it blank, they will probably guess by virtue of family names and zip code.
When should I put that I am Proficient in a foreign language?
Proficient does not mean fluent. Proficient means you are in a high level honors or AP class – that if you got dropped in the middle of a foreign country you could at least get by and survive.
Students get bashful and are scared of putting that they are proficient. But if they have taken the same language every year of high school, you should probably put proficient. (Don’t worry, they aren’t going to test your language skills until AFTER you are accepted.)
What do they mean by Counselor Title?
Usually it is just Guidance Counselor. But some schools have different job titles, especially at private schools. Check your school’s website or email your guidance counselor if you are not sure.
How do I find out my Class Rank?
Not every high school has class rank. If your school does have ranks, it is probably on your transcript. If not, email the guidance department to find out.
Make sure that the rank you put on your application matches whatever rank will be on your transcript or other documentation being sent from the high school to your colleges.
Should I put Weighted or Unweighted for my Cumulative GPA?
Weighted. No reason to not put weighted! Again, just make sure it matches the number on your transcript.
How should I list all of my classes?
A word of advice: write out the full name of the class. Yes, there are those handy buttons to indicate “Honors” or “Advanced Placement” but in this one case it is okay to be redundant. So type out “AP US History” and then click the bubble, as well.
What do I list under the Honors section?
Honor roll counts! And do not let any student try to tell you “It’s not a big deal Mom, no one cares about that.”
Yes, yes they do care about that! If you were honored with something, admissions officers will care about it. And if you do not list it, guess what – someone else will!
This is not the time to be bashful or self-deprecating. This is a time to be proud of all your accomplishments.
Also, honors societies (including National Honor Society – note “Honor” singular, not plural!) can be listed here as well.
What do I put for Future Plans or Intended Majors?
Whatever you put, make sure they match across your Common App and supplements! Do not put that your Future Plan is in Biology and then write an essay about Economics or list History as your first choice prospective major.
Remember: it is okay to be Undecided. Admissions officers recognize that 16-18 year olds probably do not know exactly what they want to be when they grow up. There is no penalty if you are Undecided.
How do I input ACT and SAT scores onto the Common App? And do I need to send them separately to colleges, too?
Let’s address that second question first: yes, you do need to send your scores directly from ACT or CollegeBoard (for the SAT) to colleges so that admissions officers can have your official score reports. Send these after you submit your applications. Then you have an application file open at those colleges where your score report can go.
As for self-reporting on the Common App, you are only asked to self-report your superscore. It will ask you how many times you took the test and then the highest test scores for each section.
[NOTE: you do not need to report every test date taken for the ACT because, legally, YOU own those scores, as well as your SAT scores. You can delete ACT scores from your permanent record and colleges will never know about them.]
So if you took the ACT twice and scored highest on English and Math in December and highest on Reading and Science in June, you would only be reporting those highest scores on the Common App.
How do I add colleges to my Dashboard and My Colleges list?
Go to the College Search tab on top. Search for a college. Then add it to your My Colleges list. You are allowed a maximum of twenty colleges.
From there, the Dashboard will help you track what has been submitted and when application deadlines are based on whether you are applying early or regular.
Under My Colleges, you will find the supplements for each college, including supplement essays. (Which can be found in a variety of places, so if you are not sure if a college has supplement essays, feel free to email or call us anytime! Our number is 267-888-6489 and our email is firstname.lastname@example.org)