Get Started on Your College Applications with the Common Application

By Tamara Stepton

If you’re planning to apply to college next year, one thing you can do now to make the application process easier is to begin to fill out the Common Application.

About the Common Application

Called the Common App, the online application allows you to apply to several colleges with one application. Colleges request a lot of information from you, so using the Common App streamlines the process. Instead of completing a separate application for each school, you complete one online application and submit electronic copies to up to 20 colleges.

Over 800 schools currently accept the Common App, and that number grows every year. A few of the schools added in the 2019-20 admission cycle have traditionally been attractive to Fusion students: Landmark College (VT), Elon University (NC), Shawnee State University (OH), and the University of Charleston (WV).

Creating Your Account

There’s no need to wait—now is a great time to  create your Common App account. When you create your account, your email becomes your username. You may want to create a separate email address for your college applications. A good format for is By using your new email address, you’ll keep your college planning organized. Be sure to use that same email address to register for the ACT or SAT too.

Your Application Essay

After you create your Common App account, you can fill in the biographical information and begin thinking about your essay. The essay forms part of your application and is sent to every college where you submit your Common App.  You are allowed 250-650 words to respond to one of seven writing prompts. (As a point of reference, this article is 436 words). The 2019-2020 Common App essay prompts are identical to last year’s prompts and are designed to give you an opportunity to be seen as more than your grades and test scores.  

I frequently hear students lament, “I don’t have anything to write about!” That’s not true! You do have unique experiences that you can turn into a compelling essay.  The Common App essay is your opportunity to shine a light on what makes you unique and wonderful.  The goal is to give admissions officers insight into your character and to think, “I can really see this student being an involved, vibrant member of our community!”  By selecting a quality you’d like to highlight, and by telling your story in a well-crafted essay, you’re likely to be seen as someone who will be an asset to the college community you are seeking to join.

Want Support?

If you’d like help getting started on your essay, connect with your Post-Seconday Counselor. Together, you can brainstorm ideas that will highlight your unique personality.

Click here to find your closest Fusion campus.

About the Author

Tamara Stepton Tamara Stepton is the Post-Secondary Counselor for several Fusion campuses: Los Gatos, Miracle Mile, Oak Brook, Lake Forest, Evanston, Upper West Side, and Alexandria. She has a B.A. with highest honors from the University of Michigan and a J.D. from Villanova Law School (where she was on the law review).  She spent several years as an equity derivatives attorney in New York and Connecticut before turning her hobby of teaching students how to ace the LSAT, SAT, ACT and SSAT into a successful college consulting career.

Tamara believes that Fusion’s individualized approach to post-secondary plans can make a real difference in the lives of students. Whether the next step is college, a gap year, or something else, she helps students and their families explore post-Fusion options. Because she is connected closely with the school's leadership team, teachers, and the Fusion program, she’s able to make educated, personalized recommendations based on what is best for each student.

In her free time, Tamara loves to travel, especially to Singapore where her daughter is a college freshman.

Click here to email Tamara.

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