college applications

by Elyse Krantz, former admissions officer at Barnard College

The Common App is here! As of August 1, this year’s Common Application is available to all applicants. If you have not yet created your Common App account, follow steps 1-7 below. If you created a Common App account prior to August 1, steps 8-10 are for you! Either way, take a few moments to bookmark this site. You’re going to be using it a lot over the next few months.


  1. Visit
  1. On the “let’s get started!” page, indicate you are a “first year student.”

Common App Let's Get Started screen

  1. On the “create your account” page, enter an email address you check regularly, as this is the account colleges will use to contact you about the status of your application.

Common App create your account screen

  1. Remember to use proper capitalization and spelling when entering your first and last name. Additionally, you can list your cell phone or your home phone number here; just be sure the voicemail greeting is appropriate for a college admissions official.
  1. If your home address doesn’t appear when attempting to enter this information, double-check your spelling and remember that some street names might be spelled as one or two words (Bridlepath vs. Bridle Path). If you select the “I don’t see my address in this list” option, be sure to use proper spelling and punctuation when entering your address.

Common App address lookup

  1. Check “no” if you do not live in a European Union country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, or the UK. Additionally, fill in the bubble to indicate you will be applying as a first-year student starting college in 2020 or 2021.

Common App country selection

  1. Finally, when it asks if you want to share your information with colleges before you apply, we recommend you uncheck the first box. You can check the boxes for the second and third question. Click the “create account” button and you’re done!

Common App Create Account


  1. On the “welcome back!” page, check the boxes to indicate:
  • You will start college 2020 or 2021,
  • You are still interested in keeping these colleges on list for now (don’t worry, you can easily add or remove schools later),
  • “Yes” if your high school name is correct, and
  • “No” if you do not live in a European Union country, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, or the UK.

Common App Welcome Back screen
Common App account updates

  1. We recommend you leave the first box blank (colleges may NOT contact you before you submit your application), but check the remaining two boxes.

Common App done screen

  1. After you click the blue “done” button, you’ll immediately receive an email confirmation from the Common App affirming your account has been successfully rolled over.

What happens next? Within the Common App, head on over to the College Search tab to look up colleges of interest and add them to your My Colleges list. You can also start to fill out the main part of your application, located on the Common App tab. This takes about an hour to complete. And, if you haven’t yet begun working on your Common App personal statement, be sure to check out our brand new video series with insider tips for crafting your best application essay.

Congratulations! The fun of applying to college has officially begun.

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Written by Elyse Krantz
Elyse Krantz is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. 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.