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Common Application 2008-2009 Questions & Answers

tokenadulttokenadult 15970 replies1501 threads Senior Member
edited September 2008 in Common and Coalition Application
Common Application Preview is Online

This thread can be the beginning of a FAQ thread about the Common Application for the 2008-2009 school year.

The Common Application organization has announced


that a preview of the 2008-2009 Common Application


is available online. This is not yet the official version of the form that will be used by applicants this fall, but it is possible to look at yellow highlighted areas on the online .PDF document to see changes in the new version of the Common Application. One significant change is that the Common Application now includes a space for self-reporting AP test (or IB test) scores.

The ethnic self-identification question, discussed in a FAQ thread here on College Confidential,


has NOT been updated to reflect the latest guidance by the federal Department of Education, which will be mandatory by the 2009-2010 application year. For the moment, the form makes very clear that self-identifying with any ethnic group is OPTIONAL (which is indeed the law, and which will still be the law next year).

What other interesting changes do you see? What do you think about the overall Common Application form?

The Common Application site has a way to log in


to access an extensive list of FAQs about the Common Application (which, in my humble opinion, ought not require logging in to access, but the site designers are stupid like that).
edited September 2008
1259 replies
Post edited by tokenadult on
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Replies to: Common Application 2008-2009 Questions & Answers

  • heyyouheyyou 108 replies8 threads Junior Member
    wow, i really like the updated one for a few reasons, which as a whole clear up a lot of ambiguities and confusions:

    the academic honor section is a lot clearer (ours was just a text field) so that the significance of the honor and the grade level are both easily seen

    i love the new extracurriculars section cause it distinguishes between summer activities and term-time activities...i was super confused about how to make the difference when i was filling that out

    finally this is subtle, but very important...the "top few in my career" has a parenthetical explanation that it refers to the top 1%...that clears up a LOT of confusion and makes it more uniform for recommenders throughout the contry. because people used to think that "top few" meant top 0.00001%, while others read it like it is now: top 1%

    overall, the changes are excellent.
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  • classof09classof09 903 replies41 threads Member
    It's just really annoying that the academic honors section now limits you to 5 awards only. What about the people who have many local, regional, and state awards, and nothing particularly special who are applying to schools where supplemental material is not allowed?
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  • classof09classof09 903 replies41 threads Member
    And what happens if you have 10 AP exams? lol.
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  • tokenadulttokenadult 15970 replies1501 threads Senior Member
    Can't you always add an attachment to list things for which there isn't enough space?

    P.S. How does that work for electronic submission of the Common Application?
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  • classof09classof09 903 replies41 threads Member
    I have no clue, and some schools specifically ask you not to submit extra materials..
    Want to estimate how many characters/words the extracurricular sections can hold?
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  • ChedvaChedva 18945 replies11738 threads Senior Member
    If you have more awards or APs, put them in the Additional Information section.
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  • calculus09calculus09 - 130 replies27 threads Junior Member
    Does the personal statement need a title?
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  • ep1th3tep1th3t 179 replies61 threads Junior Member
    I think token's question should be reiterated: how does one send in additional information electronically?
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  • ep1th3tep1th3t 179 replies61 threads Junior Member
    also, does one HAVE to put their AP scores down? I know you don't have to officially on the testing day, but the common app. asks...
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  • asdfjkl1asdfjkl1 1911 replies39 threads Senior Member
    calculus09: No if it's based on the title of the word doc (or whatever). But, you can if you want. Just make it something good. :] It's going to be shown as a PDF if you do the Common App online..so you really don't need one. Yeah.

    ep1th3t: In generally, you type out the additional information section. There's a character limit on it. I forget what it was for 2007-2008. Or, you can attach an additional document (or as I did, a resume.) It's to be viewed via PDF if on the computer or just hard copy if they print out the PDF file. Hint, if you use a word document instead of typing it in, you can fit more stuff/characters than if you manually type it. They don't count characters if it's a document you're attaching..

    Also, you don't need to put AP scores down. I don't recall them asking AP scores last year actually. But, it's self-reported. You can choose to if you want. (If you got good scores, put them..it looks good!) Not everyone takes APs, so ofcourse, they can't require putting down APs.

    Tip: If you got awards and other achievements that can't fit anywhere else that you feel need to be listed, create a resume and attach it. It reflects well on you and you can put all that information in. :] Just make sure it's properly done (ask someone who's knowledgeable whether it's a friend, teacher or relative!).
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  • Tyler09Tyler09 2622 replies146 threads Senior Member
    1. Do you fill out the athletic supplement if you played varsity sports in high school or only if you want to be recruited?

    2. Since they only want the 5 most significant awards and honors, which is probably better, would national merit definitely be something to include? And we definitely should not relist anything in the ECs section right?


    I think commonapp schools asked them to limit the sections so that people only add significant information that actually makes a difference to the application. So you would include your 5 most important awards and however many best AP scores
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  • asdfjkl1asdfjkl1 1911 replies39 threads Senior Member

    You can do it if you played varsity in HS. I did. :] You did these sports, why not use them for college apps?

    National Merit is nice. But make sure the awards you list are ones that would help your application the most. If you're applying somewhere where National Merit is almost expected, save that for another place.

    You can relist things in the ECs section. Aka if you are in a club that you have a leadership role in. And, you won a prestigious award for it. It makes it seem in context. Just don't regurgitate everything.
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  • classof09classof09 903 replies41 threads Member
    Is it better to relate small awards like... a book award.. or to reiterate something in the ec section?
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  • asdfjkl1asdfjkl1 1911 replies39 threads Senior Member
    ^ No. In either awards or the additional info part...
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  • classof09classof09 903 replies41 threads Member
    I mean.. either/or
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  • laststopformelaststopforme 844 replies32 threads Member
    Wow, they subtly changed the Work experience section by adding "PAID"...I was planning to put my non-paid internships there...
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  • kwaldnerkwaldner 294 replies32 threads Member
    suppose if you are an international student, and you play ping pong and have won several national awards. Is there any section which you can indicate your interest to represent the college in ping pong? I know schools like mit and princeton or even maryland are gd at ping pong ><
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  • tokenadulttokenadult 15970 replies1501 threads Senior Member
    Tyler09 wrote:
    I think commonapp schools asked them to limit the sections so that people only add significant information that actually makes a difference to the application.

    I'm sure that's correct. And I'm sure that's the reason why awards like a high school's book award from some college alumni association might not be mentioned at all, as long as the same student had other, more significant awards. Try to develop a sense of what awards and accomplishments are most impressive NATIONALLY or even INTERNATIONALLY, and give those aspects of your application more prominence than the local stuff. I can even imagine a situation in which an applicant wouldn't particularly mention being a National Merit semifinalist, if the applicant had enough other impressive awards and if enough of the related facts appear in other parts of the application form (as an SAT score surely would).
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  • Astrophysics_07Astrophysics_07 133 replies68 threads Junior Member
    What are some volunteer opportunities for a science/math major? Thank you.
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  • asdfjkl1asdfjkl1 1911 replies39 threads Senior Member
    ^ Working with a professor on research. Um, volunteering tutoring underprivileged kids? The list goes on and one from the most obvious to the most subtle things. (You might need to figure out that one for yourself!)
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