The Common Application for Private Universities

Common Application FAQs

  • If you have technical difficulties with the application, contact the Common App Support Team.

  • Create your account. Once you register successfully, the Instructions page of the Common Application website will open. Click on My Colleges in the navigation bar at the left to start your application by adding those institutions to which you wish to apply. Once you have done this, you will be able to utilize the full functionality of the system (You can remove or add colleges at any time).  SBCC's CEEB code is 4690.

  • There are 6 separate sections: (1) Profile (2) Family (3) Education (4) Testing (5) Activities (6) Writing.

    Pages 1-6 ask for factual information. The Activities and Writing sections are a little trickier. If you forget to submit required information, you will be reminded when you try to save the page. The site includes several other useful features:
    • Instructions – provides detailed instructions for using the Common Application
    • My Colleges – maintains your college list
    • Search for Colleges – extensive college search function
    • Supplements – provides links to supplements for your colleges
    • Payments – lets you pay application fees online to many colleges
    • School Forms – lets you download Teacher Evaluation, Secondary School Report, and other forms.
    • Help

  • Yes. After submitting the application to College #1, you click on the Common Application link in the left-hand menu. You will see information about the application you have already submitted (named Original). You should click on Replicate to make an alternate version of your submitted application.

    When this is complete, a second version will be visible on your screen and a special drop down list will appear in the upper-right corner of your application. You can use this drop down to move between application versions. All data from your original version of your application will be transferred to your alternate version, with the exception of any documents that you uploaded. You may edit any of this information before you submit it to another institution.

    Additional application versions can be made by clicking on the Common Application section within your original Common Application and using the Replicate link. You may make up to 10 versions, including the original version. You only need your original User Name and Password to access all versions. You will have a separate My Colleges page for each application version. Each institution can only be on the My Colleges list of one application version. You can move an institution from one version to a different version at any time prior to submitting the application to that institution.

  • If you have been working with a specific counselor or advisor, indicate that individual. If not, you can indicate the Transfer Center Director, Kathie L. Adams (kadams@sbcc.edu) as your counselor.

  • In the Common Application, under the Education section, Click on Colleges and Universities. You will be asked the following question: "If you have taken a college/university course beginning with 9th grade, please indicate number of colleges." Once you select the number of additional schools attended, you will be able to enter the college information.

  • If you’ve made a substantial commitment of time and energy to one or more of the arts and you wish to have that considered as part of your application, print and complete the Arts Supplement and send it with a resume, an instructor’s letter of recommendation, and a CD or DVD of your work. Increasingly, colleges are requesting you do this online. Check specific college information in the Requirements Grid or on the college’s own website to ensure a member institution uses this form or welcomes arts submissions.

  • If you anticipate participating in varsity athletics, print and complete the Athletic Supplement. List any team sports played in order of their importance to you. Check year(s) of participation; indicate letters earned and leadership positions. Include the name of your coach(es). Increasingly, colleges are asking that you do this online. Check specific college information in the Requirements Grid or on the college’s own website to ensure a member institution uses this form.

Activities FAQ

  • First you have to select a general activity label (e.g., Music: Vocal) from a drop-down list, and then describe it in more detail using your own words on a lower line (e.g., Frequent soloist with SBCC Concert Choir, and Jazz Band). After indicating grade levels and your hours-per-week and weeks-per-year time commitment, you can add information on positions held, honors won, (e.t.c.). There is a character limit on this explanatory information for each activity, but you can experiment to see how much you can put in there, and make efficient use of the space by using abbreviations.

  • Do not go beyond 5 or 6 extracurricular activities. More than that is excessive.

  • Report your activities in order of importance to you.

  • If you feel too limited by the space constraints of the chart, you can consider submitting a resume. You’ll see on the printed application form that this is not unusual. You can send your resume by mail separately, or upload it on the Additional Information question on the Writing page.

  • Yes. Even if you are submitting a resume, you should still complete activities form.

  • If you can’t find your category, you should select “other”.

  • This section holds 100 characters and should include more about the club (more than the general category they selected from the drop down menu (i.e. if you have selected 'Government/Politics' in drop down menu, then you should put 'Model UN' in description field). You should also use this field and the “Position Held” field to describe activity. This will give you a total of 200 characters to make your involvement in an activity clear.

Essay FAQs

  • The Common App does not restrict your word count, but you are expected to adhere to the maximum. Following directions is a large part of what admissions counselors are looking for in your application. While one or two words over the count may not impact your application, you should not go significantly over. Remember, admissions offices are reading thousands of essays. The saying “less is more” truly applies in this situation.

  • Yes! Just insert it into the Word document, and make sure the document is no larger than 500 KB in size. Don't sacrifice space that could be used for great writing, though, or go over to a second page just to fit in a picture.

Additional Information FAQs

  • • To explain a blemish in the school record (it is best if your account is backed up by the counselor).

    • To talk about a learning disability that has affected your academic or test performance. Do not send diagnostic test results, but do talk openly about the general nature of your disability and the ways you have learned to succeed in spite of it. (If you can, research or visit the learning support center for the college, and talk about the ways you plan to utilize this important resource.)

    • To explain unusual circumstances affecting your academic record/transcript

    • To talk about a well-defined academic interest and your plan for pursuing it in college.

    • To write in some depth about an additional activity of importance to you, especially as it relates to planned studies in college.

    • To upload a resume.

  • This is a single upload section, so make sure you are include everything you want to say in one document.

  • No. This section should only be used for a reason. Do not include frivolous information in this section.

Academic Evaluator FAQs

  • The Academic Evaluator is someone who can provide a letter of recommendation for you. This should come from a professor or counselor.

  • To determine how many recommendations and who has to provide the recommendation check out the List of Required Forms for the 50+ Most Popular Universities that use the Common Application. If your university is not on the list go to the university’s undergraduate admission website and find the Transfer Application Checklist to find out who needs to complete the Academic Evaluation.

  • Once you add the instructor’s/counselor’s contact information to the Academic Evaluator section, they will get an email from Common Application that will give them the opportunity to fill out the recommendation form online.

  • Yes, in order to complete your Common Application and be able to submit it, you do need to assign an Academic Evaluator. Feel free to tell your Academic Evaluator to disregard the email. Since the application will not let you move on or submit without providing the instructor/counselor names in the recommendation section type in the name of the instructors or counselors who will be recommending you, but DO NOT supply their e-mails. If you do this you will be able to move on and submit your application.

College Report Form FAQs

  • To determine if you need to submit the College Report form check out the List of Required Forms for the 50+ Most Popular Universities that use the Common Application. If your university is not on the list go to the university’s undergraduate admission website and find the Transfer Application Checklist to determine if you need to submit the College Report form. If you are still unsure, phone or email the Undergraduate Admission Office at the university.

  • Download and print a copy of the College Report from the 'FERPA and Recommenders' section in The Common Application.

  • The SBCC Admission Office fills out the form and mails it to the university.

  • Yes. Universities want your official transcripts and College Report form submitted at the same time, preferably in the same mailing.

  • 1. Download and print a copy of the College Report from the FERPA and Recommenders section in The Common Application.

    2. Your SBCC Official Transcript and the College Report form must be submitted together. To order your transcript, log in to your Pipeline account. Select “Student Records”. Next, select “Order Official Transcript.”

    3. Complete the “Student Information” and “Contact Information” sections.

    4. The next section is the “Basic Order Information” page. Select your preferred service and check the box “Attachments.” The attachment is the College Report form that you will submit to the SBCC Admission Office. It is a 1 page attachment.

    5. Complete the remaining steps to submit your transcript order. Follow the instructions for submitting your attachment as outlined at the end of the transcript ordering process.

  • 1. Print the College Report as outlined above.

    2. Print and complete the Authorization for Release of Information to Third Parties.

    3. Submit both forms to the SBCC Admissions & Records Office, SS 110 or fax the forms to (805) 962-0497.

Additional Forms FAQ

  • To determine what Additional Forms you need to submit check out the Required Forms for the 50+ Most Popular Universities that use the Common Application. If your university is not on the list go to the university’s undergraduate admission website and find the Transfer Application Checklist to determine if you need to submit the College Report form. If you are still unsure, phone or email the Undergraduate Admission Office at the university.

Application Fee/Fee Waiver FAQs

  • Most Common Application member institutions require an application fee. Payment of this fee may be made online on the Common Application site, on the institution's own website, or via check. If an institution that you have selected offers an online application fee, this will be available in the Payments section. If an application fee is required, you must submit this fee before your application package will be complete.

  • Our member colleges want to make sure that application fees do not pose a barrier for any student who wishes to apply for admission. If you feel that your financial circumstances might qualify you for an application fee waiver, you can request a fee waiver on the Profile screen in the Common Application Fee Waiver section.

    To be considered for a fee waiver you must meet at least one of the following indicators of economic need:

    You have received or are eligible to receive an ACT or SAT testing fee waiver.

    You are enrolled in or eligible to participate in the Federal Free or Reduced Price Lunch program (FRPL).

    Your annual family income falls within the Income Eligibility Guidelines set by the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

    You are enrolled in a federal, state, or local program that aids students from low-income families (e.g., TRIO programs such as Upward Bound).

    Your family receives public assistance.

    You live in a federally subsidized public housing, a foster home or are homeless.

    You are a ward of the state or an orphan.

    You can provide a supporting statement from a school official, college access counselor, financial aid officer, or community leader.

  • The SBCC Transfer Center (SS140) has a letter that it can submit on your behalf. You must come into the Transfer Center to obtain this letter. Note: Submission of a letter of support does not guarantee that the university will waive the application fee.

    You may also contact the university directly to see if it is possible for your application fee to be waived. If you are an EOPS student please check-in with EOPS for assistance. If you are an F-1 visa student, please speak with the International Student Support Program.

 Submitting the Common Application FAQs

  • Click the Submit button on the navigation bar to access the webpage where you designate colleges to receive your application. You may submit your application to one or more institutions at a time, and to other institutions in the future.

    Please note: Once your application is submitted to any institution, that version of your Common Application can no longer be edited or changed. Use the print preview functionality prior to submitting to ensure that all your information has been entered correctly.

  • Upon successful submission, you will receive an email confirmation message, and the status of your application submission will be updated in the My Colleges area. If you look on the My Colleges page and see that your application or supplement has been downloaded, this means the school has printed your application/supplement and it is under review.