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Applying to college is a very, very exhausting task if you're not 100% sure where to go, and if you're not 100% sure whether you'll get in.

Most guidance counsellors and Howtos already describe some basic strategies, such as having a "reach" school and a few "safety" schools. Now the difficult part is applying to all of these places. If you don't apply to a bare minimum of three colleges, your guidance counsellor may have a heart attack, it's risky of being rejected by all three. Now you have to fill out a separate application for each and every college, write an essay for each (unless they have the same topic, if you're lucky), and get teachers to fill out a reccomendation for every college on the list.

A while back a bunch of colleges decided to get together and combine their applications. The result is the Common Application. Like Java, it's "write once, use everywhere."

Whoah, you're thinking, so you fill out one application and send the same one, or a photocopy, to a bunch of schools? Yup. Some schools accept the Common app or their own app that asks the same questions. Each college has agreed to be unprejudiced over which one you submit. As long as you fill in the supplement.

It consists of:

  • The Undergraduate Application- You fill out four pages, describing yourself the way a college application asks, including jobs and extracurricular activities. Write your honors, SAT and ACT scores here. Even transfer students can use this.
  • Teacher Evaluation- You usually need one or two teacher reccomendations. Give it to the teacher. It's OPTIONAL that you sign the confidentiality agreement, meaning you can't see what was written about you. This is usually due at the same time as the Application
  • The secondary school aka high school report- goes out to the guidance counsellor, even if you've graduated a while ago.They include your transcript.
  • Mid-year school report- In addition to your school report, it is added with your transcript. (and to make sure you're not slacking off and getting F's after mailing in everything)
  • The Supplement

The only catch are the Supplemental forms. Once you submit the application, the college sends you a supplement, or you can download one from their web page and get to work on it immediately. Usually it's not more than a page, some ask for another essay and additional information for special programs and the like. Go download it and try to send it in with the application, it usually has the same deadline.

There are currently 227 colleges that accept the application, and you can also fill it out online and send it in to multiple schools.

Their motto is Why would you apply any other way? True. Most seniors regard the concept as the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Availible at www.commonapp.org as well as the supplements, all in PDF form for printing.

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