The new Common Application (2021-2022) was released on Sunday. What does that mean for your college admissions process? Is there anything you should be doing now? Were there any changes to the application? Let’s go over answers to all of these questions so you can move forward with confidence.

Changes to the 2021-2022 Common App

This year, the changes to the application were relatively minor.

  • The application no longer asks students about their high school disciplinary record.
  • Similarly, veterans who are applying to college are no longer asked about their discharges.
  • A few questions have been added to aid transgender students in reporting their gender identity.
  • A new prompt has been added as an option for the Personal Statement: Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  • Over 60 new colleges have been added to the Common Application, making it easier than ever before to apply to multiple schools with only one application.

What to do now that the 2021-2022 application has been opened

First, we recommend that students and parents create a free account at This will be the main account you use to submit your applications to colleges, so make sure you use an appropriate email and create a secure password that you will remember.

Once you’ve made an account, students and parents should take the time to go through each section of the application in order to familiarize themselves with its structure, the kinds of questions it asks, and the specific documents it requests as part of the application. It’s important that you take the time to do this so that you won’t get caught off guard at the last second about a requirement that you may need some time to complete.

Use the Common Application to investigate the admissions requirements of the schools you are interested in applying to. Simply go to your school list and search for any schools you’d like to add. Once you’ve added them to your application, you can freely look through all the supplemental questions they ask, including essays and documents they request. This can be really help you understand what a specific school requires of you in addition to the normal application, which may end up being a factor in determining your final college list. Also be sure to pay attention to the application fee for each school.

What to do about specific schools you’re applying to

Other than the general documents and questions you will need to fill out for the “Common” part of the application, you will also need to fill out a new section specific to each school you apply to. After you’ve added them all to your list, go through each school’s questions and make a list of all the supplemental essays you need to write. Build a schedule and give yourself a reasonable amount of time to write and edit each of the supplemental essays. These essays are a huge part of the application, so make sure that you give them their due. It’s important you come up with compelling and unique answers to each of the questions that a university asks you. Otherwise, it will be difficult for an admissions counselor to remember you.

Be sure you also make a list of the specific documents that each school requires from you. Some may require one letter of recommendation, others two, others will require you to fill out a form on their website, others will require you to self-report grades on their online system, etc. Some of these tasks can be very time consuming, so it’s important you familiarize yourself with the requirements early on so that you can give yourself sufficient time to get everything done – and to get it done right.

If you have any questions about the common application, building your school list, writing supplemental essays, or the college admissions process as a whole, please get in touch at [email protected]. We help our students by giving them 1-on-1 guidance for every step of the college admissions process. We’re always happy to set up a free initial consultation to discuss your needs and our services.

We hope you have a fruitful week!

The American College Counselors Team