Common Application 2019-2020 - Questions and Answers

What is the Common Application?

One of the online platforms that students use to apply to College.


What are the components of the Common Application?

  • Profile: personal demographic information

  • Family: family information

  • Education: schools, grades, courses, honors, community based organizations, future plans

  • Testing: you may self report scores

  • Activities: may include arts, athletics, clubs, employment, personal commitments, and other pursuits

  • Writing: Personal Essay

Can I start my Common App this summer?

Yes - The Common App is available to start now. It will briefly shut down July 28-31. Then,

on August 1, it will be live again and you will be prompted to perform the account rollover (on August 1, 2019 the Common App will also have a new look)

New Common App Logo

What does not change with the account rollover?

  • username and password

  • Student College List and answers to questions on the Common App tab.

What does NOT roll over?

  • Anything on the MY Colleges tab (including FERPA release authorization, recommender invitations, answers to college-specific questions)

Will a question about Criminal History be on the 2019-2020 Common App?

Criminal History has been removed from Common Portion of the Common App but College Specifically can ask it. It has also been removed as a question for counselors.

Will a question about School Discipline be on the 2019-2020 Common App?

Yes. A question about School Discipline will be on the Common Portion of the Common App and also asked as a question to college counselors.

What are the essay prompts for 2019-2020?

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

Click here if you are interested in which of these prompts were most popular in the past

Through the Making Caring Common movement, Some colleges will use these prompts for their supplemental essays 

Who in your life is depending on you?

What are they depending on you for?

How many activities can I list on the Common App?

10 - some colleges will allow you to add an optional resume, some colleges will NOT allow you to add a resume to your application

What are the character limits for describing activities?