Navigating the Common Application: Tips for a Strong Submission

The Common Application serves as a portal to countless opportunities, offering students a platform to present their unique narratives to colleges and universities. As you embark on this journey, consider these tips to ensure your Common Application stands out and captures the essence of who you are.

1. Start Early: 

In the journey of completing your Common Application, the adage "early bird catches the worm" holds true. Beginning the application process well in advance is a strategic move that sets the tone for a smoother and more effective experience. Here's why starting early is the crucial first step towards submitting a stellar Common Application.

1. Thoughtful Reflection: Starting early allows you the luxury of time to reflect deeply on your experiences, achievements, and aspirations. You can craft your essays with care, weaving a narrative that genuinely reflects your character and values.

2. Avoid Last-Minute Panic: Procrastination often leads to undue stress and hasty, less-refined work. By starting early, you eliminate the pressure of looming deadlines and can approach your application methodically.

3. Iterative Improvement: An early start enables you to revise and refine your essays, activities list, and other components multiple times. Each iteration enhances the quality of your application, presenting you in the best possible light.

4. Strategic Planning: Early planning lets you strategize your application approach. You can assess your strengths, weaknesses, and how each college's offerings align with your goals. This planning sets the foundation for a cohesive application.

5. Access to Resources: Starting ahead of time gives you the chance to seek guidance from teachers, mentors, or college counselors. They can provide valuable insights and help you polish your application.

6. Technical Hurdles: Technical glitches can arise when submitting online applications. By starting early, you have a buffer to troubleshoot any technical issues that might crop up.

7. Gather Materials: Collecting documents, transcripts, recommendation letters, and other necessary materials takes time. An early start ensures that you have everything ready well before deadlines.

8. Avoid Rushed Essays: Quality essays are pivotal to your application. An early start allows you to draft, revise, and seek feedback on your essays, resulting in well-crafted and impactful submissions.

9. Apply for Scholarships: Some colleges have scholarship opportunities with separate deadlines. Starting early ensures you have the time to research and apply for these additional financial aid options.

10. Reflects Professionalism: An early submission demonstrates your professionalism and organizational skills. It sends a positive signal to admissions committees about your commitment and dedication.

11. Minimize Mistakes: Rushing through your application increases the likelihood of errors or oversights. Starting early gives you the chance to proofread meticulously and catch any mistakes.

12. Focus on Academics: An early start means you can manage your time more effectively between your application and your current coursework. You won't need to sacrifice your academic performance for application completion.

13. Peace of Mind: Starting early affords you the peace of mind that comes from knowing you've taken a proactive step towards your future. It eliminates the anxiety of scrambling to meet deadlines.

Embrace the early start as an investment in your future. Approach your Common Application with intention, care, and a commitment to presenting your best self. By giving yourself ample time, you ensure that the application process is not just a hurdle to overcome but an opportunity to showcase your achievements and aspirations with confidence.

2. Personal Information: 

Your personal information is the gateway to your Common Application—a window through which admissions committees catch their first glimpse of you as an applicant. This section might seem straightforward, but it's crucial to approach it thoughtfully and accurately. Here's why personal information matters and how to present it effectively.

1. First Impressions: The personal information section is your chance to make a strong first impression. Admissions committees often use this section to learn more about your background, location, and contact information.

2. Accuracy Matters: Ensure that all the information you provide is accurate and up to date. Mistakes in your contact information, name, or other details can lead to missed communications or misunderstandings.

3. Professionalism: Present your personal information with professionalism. Use a professional email address (preferably your name) that you check regularly, and provide a phone number where you can be reached easily.

4. Consistency: Keep your personal information consistent across all application materials. Use the same name, email address, and other details for all components of your application.

5. Thoughtful Email Address: Choose an email address that is appropriate and reflects your identity. Avoid using overly casual or unprofessional email addresses.

6. Mailing Address: Ensure that your mailing address is accurate and current. This is where colleges will send important communications, so make sure you'll receive them.

7. International Students: If you're an international student, include your country code in your phone number, and consider mentioning your timezone if it's different from the college's location.

8. Contact Information: List a reliable phone number where you can be reached. If possible, provide a mobile number so that you can be easily contacted.

9. Privacy Considerations: Keep in mind that personal information, including your address, is sensitive. While you need to provide it to colleges, you can omit certain details from your online resume if you're concerned about privacy.

10. Review and Update: Regularly review and update your personal information if there are any changes. This ensures that colleges can reach you without any disruptions

11. Professional Headshot: While not always required, some colleges alow you to upload a photo of yourself. If you choose to include a photo, ensure it's professional and appropriate for an academic setting.

12. Accessibility: Ensure that the personal information section is accessible to those reviewing your application. Double-check for typos and ensure that phone numbers and email addresses are entered correctly.

Your personal information is your digital introduction—it sets the tone for the rest of your application. By presenting it with accuracy, professionalism, and attention to detail, you start your application journey on the right foot. Approach this section as an opportunity to convey your reliability and your commitment to presenting yourself thoughtfully to the colleges you're applying to.

3. Thoughtful Essays: 

Among the most impactful components of your Common Application are the essays. These essays provide a canvas to paint your unique story, perspectives, and aspirations. Crafting thoughtful essays requires intention, self-reflection, and a commitment to presenting your authentic self. Here's how to approach this essential aspect of your application.

1. Authenticity Above All: Your essays are your chance to show who you truly are. Be authentic and resist the urge to write what you think admissions committees want to hear. Genuine stories resonate more deeply.

2. Address the Prompt: Each essay prompt is designed to elicit specific insights. Ensure your response directly addresses the prompt, staying focused on the theme or question provided.

3. Start Early: Give yourself ample time to brainstorm, draft, revise, and refine your essays. Starting early allows for multiple rounds of editing and enhances the quality of your writing.

4. Reflect on Your Experiences: Choose experiences or moments that hold personal significance. Reflect on how they've shaped you, your values, and your outlook on the world.

5. Show, Don't Tell: Instead of merely stating characteristics or values, show them through anecdotes and specific examples. Allow readers to draw their own conclusions about your qualities.

6. Structured Narrative: Organize your essays with a clear structure—introduction, body, and conclusion. Each paragraph should contribute to the narrative and flow seamlessly.

7. Be Concise: Adhere to word limits while conveying your message effectively. Avoid verbosity; choose words that carry depth and meaning.

8. Storytelling: Your essays should read like engaging stories. Use descriptive language, dialogue, and sensory details to immerse readers in your experiences.

9. Reflect on Challenges: Address challenges you've faced, showing how you've grown and what you've learned. Demonstrating resilience and problem-solving skills adds depth to your narrative.

10. Tone and Voice: Find a tone and voice that resonate with you. Whether it's humorous, reflective, or introspective, the tone should reflect your personality.

11. Seek Feedback: After drafting your essays, seek feedback from teachers, mentors, or peers. Their insights can provide valuable perspectives and help refine your writing.

12. Edit and Revise: Editing is essential. Proofread for grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors. Revise for clarity, coherence, and impact.

13. Connect to the College: In essays that ask why you're interested in a particular college, make sure to connect your aspirations and experiences to the college's offerings and values.

14. Tell a Larger Story: If you're writing multiple essays, ensure they collectively present a cohesive narrative that adds depth to your application.

15. Personal Reflection: Conclude essays with personal reflections that tie back to your main message. These reflections offer insight into your growth and self-awareness.

16. Avoid Clichés: Steer clear of overused phrases and clichés. Your essays should offer fresh perspectives and unique insights.

Your essays are your opportunity to shine as an individual. They allow you to transcend grades and test scores, revealing the qualities, perspectives, and experiences that make you a unique candidate. Approach your essays as a canvas for self-expression, and remember that the most impactful essays are those that touch the hearts and minds of admissions committees with authenticity and depth.


Your Common Application is an opportunity to express your unique identity, aspirations, and contributions. Approach it as a chance to tell your story and present yourself in the best light. By investing time and effort into crafting a strong submission, you position yourself for success in the competitive world of college admissions.