Over 600 U.S. colleges and universities use the Common Application. Although the purpose of this website is to simplify and streamline the application process, it can still be a confusing process for international students.

International Students

The Common App asks for personal and academic information that international students may need to leave blank. These sections include:

  • U.S. social security number (SSN) … this is a number given to U.S. citizens and residents, primarily for taxation purposes. If you do not have a SSN, leave this field blank.
  • Class rank … this is a measurement of how your marks or grades compare to other students in your year group at school. If your school does not rank students, you may leave these questions blank.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA) … this grading system is used by many American institutions. This number is calculated by averaging your class grades and number of classes being taken. If your school does not use GPA in their marking, you may leave these questions blank.

The Common App asks for your CEEB code, a specialized number that is used to identify schools. If your school does not have a CEEB code, a generic one will be provided for you by searching twice on the form and indicating that your school does not appear in the list. Alternatively, your school can apply for a CEEB code using the information provided on the College Board or ACT websites.

The Common App requires you to submit recommendations from a guidance counselor as well as a teacher. If there is no counselor at your school, the recommendations may be filled out by your principal or headmaster.

Don’t forget

Think like an American. Write all dates in the American format (mm/dd/yyyy). And remember, Americans may use different terms for higher education! The term “school” can refer to all places of education, including secondary school, college, and university. The term “high school” refers specifically to the last four years before university entry.

Double check all university requirements. Over 600 universities and colleges in the United States use the Common App, but make sure that you are familiar with the specific admission requirements of the schools on your list.

Don’t get carried away! There is no limit to the number of universities you can apply to in the U.S. However, we recommend you focus on 6-8 carefully selected universities including a mix of reach, target, and ‘safety’ schools.

Start now. The Common App is available 1 August – 15 July. Even if you are not applying in the current cycle, you may make an account in order to view the application. However, remember that the data does not transfer over from year to year.