What Is the Common Application

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A common application is a single form used by multiple universities for admission. The most famous of these is the Common Application, a 15-page online packet used by more than 390 U.S. universities. Colleges received about 1.4 million college applications this way in 2008. Five of those pages are for the applicant, the rests are forms for teacher evaluations and counselor paperwork. The applicant's portion typically asks for academic and personal background, grades and test scores, and extra-curricular.

It also asks for an essay. Music, drama, and art programs typically require supplementary applications, and many private universities do so as well, so read the fine print.

A few other types of universities have their own versions of a common application. Several music conservatories, including the Cleveland Institute of Music and Oberlin Conservatory, for example, use a Unified Application to gather basic data on their applicants. Most also require supplementary applications and essays, and all require auditions.

And most medical school applications are funneled through AMCAS, an online clearinghouse that administers a common med school application, used in the first round of a three-step application process, and tracks transcripts, MCAT scores and letters of recommendation.

Also Known As Common App