When Should I Start The Common App?

It’s about that time of year when we start fielding questions about timelines, essay topics, and the Common App. It’s also the time of year when students find every excuse in the book not to keep things moving regarding the college process. The dreaded task of studying for finals might even seem more appealing than creating your Common App account, or perhaps you’ve deemed rewatching every season of Game of Thrones more important than opening up the Common App homepage.

We know that starting the college application process is overwhelming and at times downright terrifying. But here’s the thing: the college process started freshman year. You’re deep into it, even if you refuse to believe it. If you’re a junior, the time to create a Common App account is rapidly approaching.  

So here it goes. You should create your Common App account in June. Aim for June 1st. All you have to do is log onto the website and sign up. And we personally guarantee you that a weight will be lifted off of your shoulders once you’ve created the account.

The Common App has six sections in total, and the first four are purely logistical. You’ll fill in information that you could provide in your sleep: name, address, high school, and things of that nature. You should complete sections one through four as soon as you make your account, because sections five and six are not nearly as simple. And definitely not something you’ll be doing with your latest Netflix binge playing in the background.

Take this time to set the tone for your college application process. You do not want to be writing supplements and submitting essays at the last minute. You’ll make mistakes and won’t put forth your best work. So, take 30 minutes to get to know the website and get through the logistical information phase.  

Section five is the activities section, and in this section you’re essentially providing the Common App website with a truncated version of your resume. This takes time, because you have a limited amount of space and want to highlight the most important aspects of your extracurricular activities. Resumé building is an important skill for the future and a good way to keep your achievements organized, so do yourself a favor and create one now. You might be asked to include it with your college apps, so it’s not a bad idea to start working on it now.  

The sixth section of the Common App is the essay. TKG clients start working on their essays in June or July. This will give you a few months to brainstorm, write an essay, delete most of it, start all over, and so forth. It’s crucial to give yourself enough time to write your essay. Following this schedule, you’ll be ready to start individual college supplements in August. Do NOT start the supplements before August 1st, because that is the official deadline for the supplements to be released. Schools can (and do) change their supplements up until August 1st. So you should work on your common app essay, get that out of the way and then shift your focus towards the supplements come August.


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