The Common College Application

Published on: 2010-12-06, latest updated on: 2012-10-31

There are two types of common college application forms in the United States: Common Application and Universal College Application

I. Common Application

Common application is a standardized application accepted by 488 universities and colleges. Membership is limited to those universities that not only review the applicant's school grades, test scores, teacher recommendations, and extracurricular activities, but also require students to provide at least one essay and one teacher recommendation. The benefit of common application is that it simplifies the college application process by requiring only one Common Application Form to be completed and sent to all the universities that a student likes.

The Common application's essay requirements have remained the same for several years, including a 250 word essay describing extracurricular activities and a 250-500 word personal statement on one topic chosen from the following subjects:

  1. A major personal experience, achievement, risk or ethical dilemma he has faced and its impact on him;
  2. An issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to him;
  3. An individual who has deeply impacted him and the reason;
  4. A fictional character, historical personage, or creative work that has profoundly influenced him and the reason;
  5. A personal experience that best illustrates the diversity he will bring to the university community;
  6. A topic of his choice.

Although the common application has reduced the number of application forms that need to be filled out and the number of essays required to be prepared, 2 / 3 of universities that use the common application still require students to submit additional information. Supplementary materials usually contain specific school-related questions and possible short-answers or essays. The Common application is free of charge. However, member institutions may charge an application fee. For details, please read each university's common application deadlines, application fees, tips and suggestions for filling in the common application form. For more information on common applications, please watch Common Application Video.

More and more schools now use the common application. As you can see, the following graph clearly shows the growth of common application members in recent years:


Application for the school to join generic growth

As of October 2012, schools that use common application have reached 488, including 11 international schools from 5 countries. The number of students using common applications has seen a corresponding surge year after year, reaching to 345,000 by the fall semester of 2011. Compared with 2010, the number of applications increased by 21%. The number of students that use the common application in their college application has increased to 663,000 in 2011-2012. Compared with 2010-2011, the number of applicants increased by 21%. The number of applications in 2011-2012 is 2.78 mil, increased by 16% compared to 2010-2011. 91% of the students that use the common application are American students, while 9% are international students.

II. Universal College Application
The Universal College Application (UCA), launched in 2007, is a new mode of standardized college admission that is currently only accepted by 77 universities. The universal college application was designed by the Applications Online company to provide a more inclusive standardized college application process. Although the universal college application still adheres to the requirements, in that its members request students to provide a minimum of one essay and one teacher recommendation. It does not have the mandatory requirements that a Common application does. This opens a door for colleges and universities that do not require essays and recommendation letters to join in a standardized college application.

For more information about the schools that participate in the Universal College Application (UCA) as well as ED / EA / RA application deadline, application fees and required supplemental materials, please read Universal College Application Requirements.

III. Which Application Form Should Be Selected

Students can choose either Common Application or Universal College Application to submit their on-line application, but can't submit applications to the same school using both systems.

IV. Common Black College Application

The Common Black College Application is a service specifically for African-American students, and has no direct relevance to Chinese people. Hence, here we only give a brief introduction. Common Black College Application is funded by The EDU, Inc. The common black college application allows students to apply to 35 black colleges for a one-time payment of a $35 application fee. Opportunities through the online application give students a chance to receive admissions, financial aid and scholarships from different universities at one time, which can increase African-American students' educational choices. To date, more than 10 million students have used the service.