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The Application Process

Colleges in almost every country now ask students to submit their applications electronically. Some colleges have their own institutional applications; others are part of the Common Application or a larger state system. Students should refer to each college’s website to check its application requirements and timelines.

Nearly 700 colleges in the US now use The Common Application (“Common App”), a standardized form that can be submitted to multiple institutions. The main Common App consists of a series of simple questions and one personal essay. Many colleges also have a supplemental section that ask questions not included on the main Common App; these supplemental sections may include additional essay requirements.

Some states or institutions have their own application process or are apart of a larger group such as the The Coalition.  We recommend students use the Common App if their institution uses it.  It is important to pay close attention to application deadlines and procedures on the school's you are applying to websites.

Common App Essay Prompts:

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. 

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? 

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? 

4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. 

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?


7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

The UC and CSU Processes

Both the University of California and the California State University systems host their own application processes.  The UC application can be found on their admissions website.  The CSU application can be accessed via Cal State Apply.  It is important to note that both application periods close November 30th.  Please find more information about both the UC and CSU processes below: