The college application process can be stressful and time-consuming. One of the first things you’ll need to decide is which schools you want to apply to. If you plan to use the Common App to apply, you may be wondering just how many schools you can select.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: There is no limit to the number of schools you can apply to on the Common App. You can use the Common App to apply to as many participating colleges and universities as you want.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk through everything you need to know about applying to multiple schools through the Common App. We’ll cover the basics of the Common App system, the benefits and drawbacks of applying to many colleges, how to manage multiple applications, and tips for deciding how many schools to apply to.

What Is the Common App?

The Common App, short for the Common Application, is an online college application platform that allows students to apply to multiple colleges and universities using a single application. It was first introduced in 1975 with the goal of simplifying the college admissions process for students.

Overview and history of the Common App

The Common App was created by a group of 15 private colleges and universities who wanted to streamline the college application process and make it more accessible to students from diverse backgrounds.

Since then, it has grown exponentially in popularity and is now accepted by over 900 colleges and universities in the United States and abroad.

With the Common App, students can fill out one application and send it to multiple schools, saving them time and effort. The platform also provides resources for students to explore different colleges, learn about financial aid options, and track their application progress.

Participating colleges and universities

Over 900 colleges and universities across the United States and around the world accept the Common App. This includes a wide range of institutions, from small liberal arts colleges to large research universities.

Some well-known schools that accept the Common App include Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of California system.

By using the Common App, students have the opportunity to apply to a diverse range of schools and increase their chances of finding the right fit for their academic and personal goals.

Components of the Common App

The Common App consists of several components that students must complete in order to submit their application. These components include:

  • Personal information: This includes basic details such as name, address, and contact information.
  • Academic history: Students are required to provide information about their high school coursework, grades, and standardized test scores.
  • Extracurricular activities: This section allows students to showcase their involvement in clubs, sports, community service, and other activities.
  • Essay: Students are required to write an essay on a specified topic or choose a prompt of their own.
  • Recommendations: Students can request letters of recommendation from teachers, counselors, or other individuals who can speak to their abilities and character.
  • Application fee: Some colleges require an application fee, while others offer fee waivers for students with financial need.

Completing these components allows students to present a comprehensive picture of themselves to colleges and universities, increasing their chances of being accepted.

For more information about the Common App and its participating colleges, you can visit their official website here.

Benefits of Applying to Multiple Schools

Increases your chances of admission

One of the key benefits of applying to multiple schools on the Common App is that it increases your chances of admission. The college application process is highly competitive, and each school has its own unique acceptance criteria.

By applying to multiple schools, you are giving yourself more opportunities to be accepted. This is especially important if you have a specific list of dream schools, as it can be unpredictable which schools will accept you.

Allows you to compare financial aid offers

Another advantage of applying to multiple schools is that it allows you to compare financial aid offers. Different schools have different financial aid packages, and by applying to multiple schools, you can see which school offers the best financial support.

This can be crucial in making your decision, as it can affect your ability to afford college. Comparing financial aid offers can help you make a more informed decision and choose the school that best fits your budget.

Gives you options to choose from

Applying to multiple schools also gives you options to choose from. Each school has its own unique characteristics, such as location, size, and academic programs. By applying to multiple schools, you give yourself the opportunity to explore different options and see which school aligns best with your goals and preferences.

It’s always better to have options than to be limited to just one choice.

According to a survey conducted by College Board, students who applied to more than one school had a higher likelihood of being accepted into at least one of their preferred schools.

So, if you’re considering applying to multiple schools on the Common App, remember that it can increase your chances of admission, allow you to compare financial aid offers, and give you options to choose from.

It’s important to do your research and carefully consider each school before submitting your applications. Good luck!

Challenges of Applying to Many Colleges

It’s time-consuming to complete many applications

One of the biggest challenges of applying to multiple colleges through the Common App is the time it takes to complete each application. Each college has its own set of questions, essays, and requirements that need to be carefully filled out.

With each application requiring time and effort, it can be overwhelming for students to manage their time effectively.

According to a survey conducted by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, the average high school student spends about 10 hours per college application. For students applying to several schools, this can quickly add up to a significant amount of time.

It’s important for students to plan ahead and allocate sufficient time to complete each application thoroughly. Prioritizing deadlines and creating a schedule can help students stay organized and ensure that they submit all their applications on time.

You’ll have to keep track of different deadlines and requirements

Another challenge of applying to multiple colleges is keeping track of various deadlines and requirements. Each college has its own application deadline, and failure to submit an application on time can result in missed opportunities.

Additionally, different colleges may require different supplemental materials, such as recommendation letters, transcripts, or standardized test scores. It can be easy to confuse the requirements for each college, leading to mistakes or omissions in the application process.

Using an organizational tool, such as a spreadsheet or a calendar, can help students keep track of important deadlines and requirements. This will ensure that they are aware of what needs to be submitted and when, reducing the risk of missing any crucial information.

Application fees can add up quickly

One aspect of applying to multiple colleges that can be financially challenging is the application fees. Each college typically requires an application fee, which can range from $50 to $100 or more.

For students applying to a large number of colleges, these fees can quickly add up and become a significant financial burden. It’s important for students and their families to budget and plan accordingly to cover these costs.

While some colleges may offer fee waivers for students with financial need, not all students may be eligible for these waivers. Students should research and inquire about any fee waiver options available to them to help alleviate the financial burden.

Tips for Managing Multiple College Applications

Applying to multiple colleges can be an overwhelming process, but with the right strategies in place, you can stay organized and on top of your applications. Here are some tips to help you manage multiple college applications efficiently:

Use organizational tools to track deadlines and materials

One of the most important aspects of managing multiple college applications is keeping track of deadlines and required materials. Using organizational tools such as calendars, spreadsheets, or dedicated college application platforms can help you stay organized and ensure that you don’t miss any important deadlines.

Additionally, these tools can help you keep track of which materials you have submitted to each school, making it easier to follow up if needed.

Create a Common App master profile

The Common Application, also known as the Common App, is a widely used platform that allows students to apply to multiple colleges using a single application. One way to streamline your college application process is to create a master profile on the Common App.

This will allow you to input your personal information, extracurricular activities, and academic achievements once, and then easily transfer that information to each college application. This can save you time and effort when filling out multiple applications.

Request fee waivers if eligible

College application fees can quickly add up, especially if you’re applying to multiple schools. However, many colleges offer fee waivers for students who demonstrate financial need. If you think you may qualify for a fee waiver, be sure to reach out to the colleges you’re applying to and inquire about their fee waiver policies.

This can help alleviate some of the financial burden associated with submitting multiple applications.

Streamline your recommenders process

Most colleges require letters of recommendation as part of the application process. If you’re applying to multiple schools, it’s important to streamline the recommenders process to make it as easy as possible for your teachers or mentors.

Consider creating a list of the colleges you’re applying to and the specific requirements for each school. This will allow your recommenders to tailor their letters accordingly and ensure that all necessary information is included.

Remember, applying to multiple colleges is a significant milestone in your academic journey, and it’s important to approach it with organization and efficiency. By utilizing these tips and staying on top of your applications, you can navigate the process smoothly and increase your chances of success.

How to Decide How Many Schools to Apply To

When it comes to applying to colleges through the Common App, one of the most common questions students have is how many schools they should apply to. While there is no one-size-fits-all answer, considering the following factors can help you make an informed decision.

Consider your academic qualifications

Before applying to any schools, it’s important to assess your academic qualifications. Take a look at your GPA, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities. Evaluating your strengths and weaknesses can help you determine which schools would be a good fit for your academic profile.

Applying to a mix of reach, target, and safety schools can increase your chances of acceptance.

Research schools’ acceptance rates

Another crucial factor to consider is the acceptance rates of the schools you are interested in. Higher acceptance rates often indicate less competitive schools, while lower acceptance rates suggest greater selectivity.

Researching the acceptance rates of different colleges can give you an idea of your chances of admission and help you decide how many schools to apply to.

Factor in affordability

Applying to colleges can be a costly process, with application fees ranging from $50 to $100 or more per school. It’s essential to consider your financial situation and factor in the cost of applying to multiple schools.

If you’re concerned about expenses, focusing on a smaller number of schools that align with your academic and financial goals can be a more feasible option.

Balance reach, target, and safety schools

When deciding how many schools to apply to, it’s crucial to strike a balance between reach, target, and safety schools. Reach schools are those where your academic qualifications may be slightly below the average admitted student, target schools are those where your academic qualifications align with the average admitted student, and safety schools are those where your academic qualifications exceed the average admitted student.

Applying to a mix of these types of schools can increase your chances of acceptance while still aiming for your dream schools.

Ultimately, the number of schools you choose to apply to should be based on your personal preferences, academic qualifications, and financial situation. Taking the time to carefully consider these factors will ensure that you create a well-rounded college application list that maximizes your chances of admission.


Applying to college can be overwhelming, but using the Common App makes it easier to submit applications to multiple schools. While there’s no limit, it’s best to be strategic when deciding how many colleges to apply to. Focus on schools that are a good academic and financial fit.

With thoughtful planning, you can maximize your chances for admission success.

The Common App provides a streamlined way to apply to hundreds of participating colleges and universities. Use this opportunity to spread a wide net during the application process. Just be sure to organize your materials, watch deadlines, and choose schools where you’ll thrive.

Best of luck as you embark on this exciting new chapter of your education!

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