Application process for Undergrad study in US – The Common App.
What we in India commonly refer to as a graduate, is actually an undergraduate as per the US nomenclature. So if you are applying to a college in US after your High School (Class 11 and 12) you are said to be applying as a freshman for undergraduate study. The first year is called the freshman year.
The application process for US colleges for your undergrad study commences August 1, when the online individual applications open for most colleges as also for the Common Application. It should be understood that many colleges in US are members of Common Application, a non-profit organisation which operates the application process. So whether you need to go through the Common Application process or have to apply to individual colleges, will depend on the colleges you choose. If your chosen colleges (or some of them) are a part of the Common Application, then you can apply to all these colleges at one go. This process is fairly streamlined and requirements of various colleges are captured in one single structured application.
Within the Common Application, there may be different deadlines for the participating colleges. However, the basic details of the applicant need to be filled up only once with course selection and college specific additional requirements of each college being filled up in the supplement.
If you are studying for your IBDP (International Baccalaureate Diploma Program) then most of the requirements like teacher recommendation, school report, counsellor report and mid-term reports (if necessary) would be uploaded online by your school counsellor. For those in HSC / State Board or CBSE/ICSE or any other board, if services of school counsellor are not available, you have an option either to request the school authorities to upload the above mentioned documents or choose to send these offline by courier. This option has to be exercised as a part of the Common Application at the initial stage.
If the chosen college/s does not participate in the Common Application, then individual online applications need to be filled up and the documents sent as per the directions of each college. Here too the option to either submit required documents online or offline is generally available.
Choosing your college should not depend on whether the chosen colleges are part of the Common Application or require individual applications. This should be done with your profile (Academic record, Standardised test scores and intended major) in mind.
An important feature of the Common Application process is the Common Application Essay. This is mandatory. The essay prompts are available online and even before you start the application, you can read the topics and select the essay prompt which resonates with you and one you can do justice to. Generally, 5 prompts are given and the applicant is required to choose any one and write up to 650 words on the chosen prompt. Always remember that plagiarism can disqualify your application.
We at Clear Perceptions guide you step-by-step through the entire process and take away the stress right from helping you select the best suited college to submission of the application.
Head of Counselling