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How to Create Your Common Application Account

From essays and interviews to campus tours and costly fees, there are dozens of steps to applying to college. But creating your Common App is one of the easiest and, if approached in the right mindset, also one of the most empowering. Once you’ve set up your Common App account, you are no longer just a prospective student, but are well on your way to becoming a genuine college applicant!

The Common Application

If you’ve never created a Common App account before, begin at step 1. If you’ve previously set up a Common App account, you’ll need to follow the roll-over procedures, starting at step 5.

Step 1.  Visit the Common App login page. Click on the blue “create an account” link in the middle of the page.

Step 2. On the Registration Type page:

  • Indicate that you are a “First Year Student.”

Step 3. On the Login Credentials page:

  • Be sure to sign up with your email address, rather than a family address or a parent’s email address. Colleges and universities will use this email to communicate with you about missing materials, required forms, and even final admissions decisions. Be sure this is an email address you will maintain through the spring, and one that is relatively free of junk and clutter. Additionally, be aware that the email address you use will appear on your application, so you might consider something more boring and formal like, rather than
  • Consider writing down or emailing yourself the Common App password you’ve selected. As you’re required to include capital and lowercase letters, as well as both a number and a special character (e.g. #, !, &, etc.), chances are good you’ll forget this combination in the future!

Step 4. On the Registration Information page:

  • You can list your cell phone or your home phone number; just be sure the voicemail greeting is appropriate for a college admissions official.
  • Fill in the bubble for starting college in “2018 or 2019.”
  • Finally, I recommend that students uncheck the first box that grants the colleges on your Common App account access to certain portions of your application (including your name, contact information, and high school name) prior to the submission of the application. The middle box (which allows the Common App to communicate with you directly) is optional, while the final box (which includes the Common App’s privacy policy) is required.

Common App account

Congratulations! You’ve successfully created your Common App account. Not sure what to do next? Head on over to the College Search tab to begin adding colleges to your college list, or click on the Common App tab to begin answering questions on the application itself!

Step 5. To roll-over a previously created Common App account, visit the Common App login page. Enter your email address and password.

Step 6. On the Welcome page:

  • Mark the bubbles for “First Year Student,” beginning college in “2018 or 2019,” and “yes” if your high school name is correct.

Common App account rollover

Step 7. On the Affirmations page:

  • Please see our tips for this section under step 4 above.

Step 8. On the College List page:

  • Check the boxes for any schools you still want to see on your “My Colleges” list. No need to agonize over this step; you can always make adjustments your school list later.

Step 9. On the Registration Type page:

  • Finally, indicate that you are a “Student.”

Congratulations! You’re ready to begin applying to colleges with your Common Application.

Stay tuned for the next installment of our “How To” series: How to complete the Profile, Family, and Education pages of your Common App.

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Written by Elyse Krantz
Elyse Krantz is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Elyse received her BA in linguistics from Dartmouth College and her MA from Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to joining College Coach, Elyse worked as an admissions officer at Barnard College and Bennington College. Visit our website to learn more about Elyse Krantz.