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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Silbernagel

Get a Jumpstart on College Applications

Updated: Jul 18, 2020

Online College Application

Rising seniors can ease the stress of college admissions by getting an early start on their college applications right now. More than 900 colleges and universities accept the Common Application, greatly streamlining the process for students. Via the Common App, students upload their "common data," the information about themselves that goes to every college they apply to, from grades to activities, just one time. [Note, the University of Washington uses the Coalition App -- different platform, same concept, but with far fewer participating colleges].

Each year, the Common App officially opens for the upcoming application season on August 1st. But students can actually start entering some of their application information prior to that date and that data will “rollover” when the application “refreshes.” Becoming familiar with the application and entering the "common" data now will go a long way to easing the stress later.

What information will rollover?

Answers to any questions appearing in the six sections of the Common App Tab

  • Profile

  • Family (demographic info)

  • Education (schools attended and grades)

  • Testing

  • Activities

  • Writing - the personal essay. The Common App essay prompts for 2020/21 have been confirmed (they are the same as last year).

What information will not rollover?

The information in the My Colleges Tab

The information in the My Colleges section of the application will be updated on August 1st to reflect the colleges’ current application requirements for 2020/21. Institution deadlines, standardized test policies, recommendations, and college-specific essay questions will be updated at that time within the Common App. Any information a student may have entered in the My Colleges tab prior to August 1st will not rollover. Although the College List itself will remain.

What will not rollover?

  • Responses entered for “college-specific” questions and Writing Supplements

  • The student Release Authorization and FERPA selection

  • Any recommender invitations, assignments, and forms

  • PDFs of Common Applications and Writing Supplements that may have been uploaded or submitted the prior year

  • Responses to any questions that were removed from the application prior to the update

  • Responses to any questions that may have a different format or different response options from the prior year

COVID-19 Specific Updates

The Common App will also be releasing a few additional updates, such as changes that pertain to school counselors and a new, optional COVID-19 specific question. The August 1st update will provide a FAQ to advise students on how to use the 250-word option in their application.


  • Students can create their account, enter the Common App tab data, and even start their personal essays.

  • Students should hold off on entering college-specific information until the rollover occurs on August 1st.


This year’s application process has many “options” to consider -- from whether to take and then report standardized test scores to whether to write about COVID-19 experiences. If you need some personalized guidance to help interpret the nuances as they pertain to your child, please reach out.


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