How To Apply To College With A Smartphone

Applying to college is one of the most tedious processes any student will go through. So, to make it easier, the Common Application was created to be one standard application that works for a number of colleges.

But, students still have to change their application or provide additional materials for most of the colleges that accept it. About 70% of schools require information beyond the application’s standard materials.

The Common Application still saves high school students a tremendous amount of time, and it has become their saving grace from application tedium.

And now, the Common Application has announced that it is making its process even easier with a mobile platform. With this, students can constantly access and update their application, according to an article in the US News & World Report.

The mobile site is a streamlined version of the original site, and it allows students to quickly update their application or check its status, payments and any outstanding credentials required such as transcripts or teacher recommendations.

Students could potentially fill out the entire application on their smartphone; however, many admissions officers advise against that. The mobile platform was created mostly so students can fill out basic information or quickly check out what they still need to do on their application.

"You could take your iPhone right now and you could go to and fill out your tax return if you wanted to do that on a three-inch screen, but it's just not very handy," said Rob Killion, executive director of the Common Application.  "The same thing is true for the Common App. For us, it was the monitoring part...for those students who want to quickly track what they've done [and] remind themselves what they haven't done." 

Admissions officers are warning students about filling out too much of the app on their phones, claiming that it could lead to a lot of unnecessary errors. You could write the entire 500-word (or less) essay on your phone, but chances are it’s not going to be very polished. Some admissions officers say the mobile platform is not all that practical because most students want to take their time and fill out their app very meticulously rather than very quickly.

The mobile platform can also make an admissions officer’s job easier. They can use it to download students’ applications, payment information and other statistics, and then view them on their phone.

"This is the way the world is trending—particularly young folks," said. "To not acknowledge that people are wanting to interact with our website from their mobile device is to ignore what's happening in the world." 

The Common Application plans to launch a new online system in the summer of 2013, to handle the increasing volume of applications. It will also have an updated, more convenient user interface, says Killion.

The Common Application has grown in popularity, and 456 schools now accept some form of the app. But, nearly every college still has its own sections in addition to the Common Application. Students should try to make their applications as personalized to each college as possible.