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Articles / Applying to College / Common App or Not?

Common App or Not?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | June 20, 2007

Question: It's such a pleasure to have a free source of college counseling like CC.com. Before I ask my question, I want to present my appreciation to you guys. Now here goes:

I am determined to apply ED to Penn for ED and have already finished 3/4 of the application. Penn accepts both the Common Application and its own application forms. If I use the Common Application, I can give Penn's admission guys three essays, which mean more opportunities to tell them about myself. If I use Penn's own form, I will only write two essays, but it seems that using the Penn form shows my preference of Penn over other schools. Should I use the Penn forms instead of the Common Application (which I've already started)?


Thanks for your kind words about our site. We understand your concern about using the Common Application, but don't worry. Colleges that agree to accept the "Common App" really do welcome it as their own and do not regard candidates who use it as less interested. Yes, there may have been a time when students were advised to choose a school's own form to send a message of commitment, but those days are long gone. The Ivies, along with many other "elite" colleges, also tend to require Common App supplements, so certainly any applicant who wades through all those nasty extra questions (and essays!) is clearly dedicated to applying to that school.

Finally, you mentioned that you are applying ED to Penn. Well, what better way of saying "You're Number One!"? So forge ahead with the Common App. We wish you well in your quest.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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