filling out the common app

This week’s episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation was dedicated entirely to navigating the Common Application. Beth welcomed back our very own Common App expert Elyse Krantz, former admission officer at Barnard and Bennington Colleges. Each year Elyse updates the College Coach blog with posts covering what’s new in this year’s Common Application; they covered the highlights of these posts in this episode.

Before diving into the nuts and the bolts of the actual Common Application, Beth and Elyse first debated the virtues of using a school’s own institutional application when offered as an alternative to the Common Application. They clarify myths about whether or not using an institutional application will give any special “priority” consideration and why you still might want to consider using the Common Application even if it seems like their “fast app” has fewer requirements to complete.

After that they wasted little time unpacking this year’s blog post going through the best tips in the order they appear on your application. Beth and Elyse covered everything from what email address and phone number to use, a debate on “to check or not to check” your demographic box, to definitions on what it means to be “proficient” in a language other than English. You’ll have to listen to hear Beth’s embarrassing interview story and her decidedly not proficient French skills.

After the break they dove into the activities section, and the academic self-reporting options. If you’re not sure if you should fill in this section or leave it blank, be sure to listen to the advice in this section. Elyse clarified what that new preview button on the upper right hand corner of your application does and how it’s different from the old PDF preview that Common App always provided.

Before ending, they covered the hot topic of the “Disciplinary History” check boxes (read Beth’s Huffington Post Article on the topic to learn how to best handle these), when to use the “Additional Information” section (listen to this past segment when Kara Courtois covered this topic in depth, the expanded gender identification terminology, optional resumes, ZeeMee, and last but not least, the ever confusing FERPA release authorization check box.

After listening to this episode, you will be well equipped to complete your Common Application without incident! Tune in to our upcoming episode for the next segment of our application workshop series and everything you need to know about filling out the CSS Profile financial aid form.


Written by Tova Tolman
Tova Tolman is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Prior to joining College Coach, Tova worked in admissions at Fordham University, Montclair State University, and Barnard College. Visit our website to learn more about Tova Tolman.