Is the Common App for the Common Good?


Ricardo Matias (‘15) peruses a UW-Madison pamphlet while working on his Common Application and various homework assignments from school. If the three coffee mugs are any indication, it is going to be a long night for him.

It is that time of year, when there’s only one thing that dictates the rhythm of every high school senior’s day: procrastination, the continuous struggle to actually finish all of their schoolwork. Add the unrelenting pressure of applications to this irreversible laziness, and you have just about the perfect recipe for a disaster. Fortunately for the stress levels of seniors, the Common Application is here to save the day.
A non-profit organization, this tool has been sparing the lives of high school seniors and simplifying the admissions process for roughly 35 years. Using the Common Application’s website, students can submit applications to over 500 schools in the United States, and even to some international schools.
The Common App, as deemed by students, is a fantastic way to keep applicants focused and, more importantly, sane. Once a student makes an account, he or she can save prospective universities to a “My Colleges” list. Students can then easily monitor the progress of their applications and keep track of upcoming deadlines, all with the quick scroll of a mouse. Furthermore, the “Common App” section of the website saves all the personal information of the student, which then is submitted with each university application. This is very efficient, since the applicants do not have to re-enter the tedious, personal information for each individual college over and over again.
However, our favorite aspect is the Common App essay. Students get to choose from five essay prompts. Although it is an enormous and infamous roadblock for many, it replaces having to write tens of essays, saving a tremendous amount of time (and brain cells).
Sadly, most colleges that are on the Common App require additional writing through supplement essays, but these prompts are often much more interesting. For example, one of the prompts for the University of Chicago has a supplement essay question that asks the applicant, “Were pH an expression of personality, what would be your pH and why?” From our experience, many students stress over these prompts less, and often times even enjoy writing them.
At this point in time in seniors’ high school careers, procrastination runs rampant through the senior hallway. Senioritis creeps upon us. The Common Application is not the hero that we need, but the hero that we deserve.