There’s no question that the Common Application is a great convenience for college applicants. It is now accepted by over 600 colleges and universities, including Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Students can be confident that their applications will receive careful consideration, since Common App member schools must commit themselves to using a holistic approach in evaluating applicants.

However, just because a school accepts the Common Application doesn’t mean that you should use it.

Many schools give applicants the choice of submitting either the Common Application or their own, school-specific application.

The ease of using the Common Application should not be the incentive that leads you to select the Common Application over a school-specific application. Compare the applications. Ask yourself if the questions on the Common Application allow you to share everything that you want to with the admissions committee.

If the Common Application leaves you looking too much like a ‘common applicant’ to school X, you may want to consider using the school-specific application instead. It may give you a better chance of highlighting your ‘wow’ factor.

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