Common Application Essay Schools

We are pleased to share the 2017-2018 Common Application essay prompts with you. The changes you see below reflect the feedback of 108 Common App member colleges and more than 5,000 other Common App constituents, as well as consultation with our advisory committees and Board of Directors. Students represented the single largest share of constituent survey respondents (59%), followed by school counselors (23%), and teachers (11%).

Read: You Have a Story to Tell. Colleges Want to Read It.and The Common App Essay Prompts Are Changing.

We were gratified to learn that 91% of members and 90% of constituents agree or strongly agree that the current prompts are effective. In addition, the narrative comments we received helped us see areas for improvement in three of the prompts. Working in close consultation with the counselors and admission officers on our advisory committees, we revised these prompts in a way that we believe will help students see expanded opportunities for expressing themselves. Those revisions appear in italics. You will also notice two new prompts. The first asks students to share examples of their intellectual curiosity. The second is a return to inviting students to submit an essay on a topic of their choice, reframed to help students understand that they are welcome to draw inspiration from multiple sources, not just their own creativity.

The word limit on the essay will remain at 650.

The goal of these revisions is to help all applicants, regardless of background or access to counseling, see themselves and their stories within the prompts. They are designed to invite unencumbered discussions of character and community, identity, and aspiration. To this end, we will be creating new educational resources to help students both understand and approach the opportunities the essay presents for them.

2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts

1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. [No change]

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? [Revised]

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? [New]

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. [New]

Are you applying to college soon? If so, you’ve probably heard about the Common Application—an online application you can use for over 600 colleges. Since you only have to fill out one application, it saves you time when applying to college.

But which colleges use the Common Application, and which Common Application schools are in your state? We have a complete list here, broken down by state, and updated for the 2016-17 academic year.


What Is the Common Application?

The Common Application is a college application shared by its member colleges. Member colleges accept this application from prospective students.

This means that instead of filling out an individual application for each college, you just fill out the Common Application once and send it to whichever colleges you want to apply to that accept it.

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you can apply to dozens of colleges with the click of a button. Many colleges have additional “supplements” you have to fill out. These are forms with additional questions, and sometimes additional essay. Furthermore, most colleges have application fees, so you can’t apply to hundreds of colleges—unless you have a lot of money to burn.

The Common Application only accepts colleges with a holistic review process. In other words, Common Application colleges look at the applicant as a whole, taking into account grades, SAT/ACT scores, essays, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation, etc. Because of this, all of these components are on the Common Application. (However, the essay is no longer required for all schools.)


Who Uses the Common Application?

Over 600 colleges use the Common Application! At least one college in every state accepts it, with the exceptions of North Dakota and Wyoming. Furthermore, international universities from 20 countries also accept the Common Application.

While the Common Application is used by many private universities, some public systems, like many schools in the State University of New York (SUNY) system, accept it. However, you should be aware that public schools tend to have their own application systems.

In terms of the big names, all eight Ivy League schools (Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Yale), as well as other top schools like Stanford, University of Chicago, Caltech, Johns Hopkins, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, and Rice accept the Common Application.


Common Application Members by State/Country

Without further ado, here is the complete list of colleges that use the Common Application, organized by state for American universities and by country for international schools.

If you are wondering if a particular school uses the Common Application, you can search for it on this page by using the CTRL-F function.



  • Birmingham-Southern College
  • Samford University
  • Spring Hill College
  • University of Alabama at Birmingham



  • Alaska Pacific University



  • Benedictine University
  • Prescott College



  • Hendrix College
  • Lyon College



  • American Jewish University
  • California College of the Arts
  • California Institute of Technology (Caltech)
  • California Lutheran University
  • Chapman University
  • Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Columbia College Hollywood
  • Concordia University Irvine
  • The Culinary Institute of America CA
  • Dominican University of California
  • Harvey Mudd College
  • Holy Names University
  • Hult International Business School - San Francisco
  • Loyola Marymount University
  • Marymount California University
  • Menlo College
  • Mills College
  • Minerva Schools at KGI
  • Mount St. Mary's University, Los Angeles
  • Notre Dame de Namur University
  • Occidental College
  • Pepperdine University
  • Pitzer College
  • Point Loma Nazarene University
  • Pomona College
  • Saint Mary's College of California
  • Santa Clara University
  • Scripps College
  • Soka University of America
  • Stanford University
  • University of LaVerne
  • University of the Pacific
  • University of Redlands
  • University of San Diego
  • University of San Francisco
  • University of Southern California
  • Westmont College
  • Whittier College
  • Woodbury University
  • Zaytuna College



  • Colorado College
  • Colorado State University
  • Johnson and Wales University - Denver
  • Naropa University
  • Regis University
  • University of Colorado Boulder
  • University of Denver
  • Western State Colorado University



  • Albertus Magnus College
  • Central Connecticut State University
  • Connecticut College
  • Eastern Connecticut State University
  • Fairfield University
  • Mitchell College
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Sacred Heart University
  • Southern Connecticut State University
  • Trinity College
  • University of Bridgeport
  • University of Connecticut
  • University of Hartford
  • University of New Haven
  • University of Saint Joseph
  • Wesleyan University
  • Western Connecticut State University
  • Yale University





  • Ave Maria University
  • Barry University
  • Eckerd College
  • Flagler College
  • Florida Institute of Technology
  • Florida Southern College
  • Jacksonville University
  • Johnson and Wales University - North Miami
  • Keiser University Flagship Campus
  • Lynn University
  • New College of Florida
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • Ringling College of Art and Design
  • Rollins College
  • Saint Leo University
  • St. Thomas University
  • Stetson University
  • University of Central Florida
  • University of Miami
  • University of Tampa



  • Agnes Scott College
  • Berry College
  • Brenau University
  • Clark Atlanta University
  • Emory University
  • Georgia College
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Georgia State University
  • Mercer University
  • Morehouse College
  • Oglethorpe University
  • Piedmont College
  • Savannah College of Art and Design
  • Spelman College



  • Hawai'i Pacific University



  • The College of Idaho
  • Northwest Nazarene University
  • University of Idaho



  • Augustana College (Illinois)
  • Benedictine University
  • Bradley University
  • Chicago State University
  • Columbia College Chicago
  • Concordia University Chicago
  • DePaul University
  • Illinois College
  • Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Knox College
  • Lake Forest College
  • MacMurray College
  • McKendree University
  • Millikin University
  • Monmouth College (IL)
  • North Park University
  • Northwestern University
  • Principia College
  • School of the Art Institute of Chicago
  • Trinity Christian College
  • University of Chicago
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of St. Francis
  • Western Illinois University



  • Butler University
  • DePauw University
  • Earlham College
  • Franklin College
  • Goshen College
  • Hanover College
  • Indiana University-Bloomington
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW)
  • Manchester University
  • Purdue University
  • Saint Mary's College of Indiana
  • Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College
  • University of Evansville
  • University of Indianapolis
  • University of Notre Dame
  • Valparaiso University
  • Wabash College



  • Coe College
  • Cornell College
  • Drake University
  • Grinnell College
  • Luther College
  • Simpson College
  • St. Ambrose University
  • University of Dubuque
  • University of Northern Iowa
  • Upper Iowa University
  • Wartburg College





  • Centre College
  • Eastern Kentucky University
  • Transylvania University
  • University of Kentucky



  • Centenary College of Louisiana
  • Dillard University
  • Loyola University New Orleans
  • Tulane University
  • Xavier University of Louisiana



  • Bates College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Colby College
  • College of the Atlantic
  • Husson University
  • Maine Maritime Academy
  • Saint Joseph's College of Maine
  • Thomas College
  • University of Maine
  • University of Maine at Farmington
  • University of Maine at Fort Kent
  • University of Maine at Machias
  • University of Maine at Presque Isle
  • University of New England
  • University of Southern Maine



  • Capitol Technology University
  • Coppin State University
  • Goucher College
  • Hood College
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Loyola University Maryland
  • Maryland Institute College of Art
  • McDaniel College
  • Notre Dame of Maryland University
  • Salisbury University
  • St. John's College (MD)
  • St. Mary's College of Maryland
  • Stevenson University
  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County
  • Washington College




  • Amherst College
  • Anna Maria College
  • Assumption College
  • Babson College
  • Bard College at Simon's Rock
  • Bay Path University
  • Becker College
  • Bentley University
  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Brandeis University
  • Clark University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Curry College
  • Dean College
  • Elms College
  • Emerson College
  • Emmanuel College
  • Framingham State University
  • Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
  • Hampshire College
  • Harvard University
  • Lasell College
  • Lesley University
  • Massachusetts College of Art and Design
  • Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  • Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS University)
  • Merrimack College
  • Mount Holyoke College
  • Mount Ida College
  • Newbury College
  • Nichols College
  • Northeastern University
  • Pine Manor College
  • Regis College
  • Simmons College
  • Smith College
  • Springfield College
  • Stonehill College
  • Suffolk University
  • Tufts University
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • University of Massachusetts Boston
  • University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
  • University of Massachusetts Lowell
  • Wellesley College
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology
  • Western New England University
  • Wheaton College
  • Wheelock College
  • Williams College
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute



  • Albion College
  • Alma College
  • Calvin College
  • Hillsdale College
  • Hope College
  • Kalamazoo College
  • Kettering University
  • Lawrence Technological University
  • Marygrove College
  • Spring Arbor University
  • University of Detroit Mercy
  • University of Michigan
  • University of Michigan - Flint
  • Wayne State University



  • Augsburg College
  • Carleton College
  • College of Saint Benedict
  • Concordia College at Moorhead
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
  • Hamline University (MN)
  • Macalester College
  • Saint John's University
  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
  • St. Catherine University
  • St. Olaf College
  • University of Minnesota Duluth
  • University of Minnesota Rochester
  • University of Minnesota Twin Cities
  • University of St. Thomas (MN)



  • Millsaps College
  • University of Southern Mississippi



  • Columbia College
  • Cottey College
  • Drury University
  • Maryville University of St. Louis
  • Saint Louis University
  • St. Louis College of Pharmacy
  • Stephens College
  • Truman State University
  • Washington University in St. Louis
  • Webster University
  • Westminster College (Missouri)
  • William Jewell College



  • Carroll College (Montana)
  • University of Great Falls



  • Creighton University
  • Hastings College
  • Nebraska Wesleyan University




New Hampshire

  • Colby-Sawyer College
  • Dartmouth College
  • Franklin Pierce University
  • Keene State College
  • New England College
  • Plymouth State University
  • Rivier University
  • Saint Anselm College
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • University of New Hampshire


New Jersey

  • Bloomfield College
  • Caldwell University
  • Centenary College (NJ)
  • The College of New Jersey
  • College of Saint Elizabeth
  • Drew University
  • Felician College
  • Georgian Court University
  • Kean University
  • Monmouth University
  • New Jersey City University
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Princeton University
  • Ramapo College of New Jersey
  • Rider University
  • Rowan University
  • Saint Peter's University
  • Seton Hall University
  • Stevens Institute of Technology
  • Stockton University
  • William Paterson University of NJ


New Mexico


New York


  • Adelphi University
  • Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  • Alfred University
  • Bard College
  • Barnard College
  • Canisius College
  • Cazenovia College
  • Clarkson University
  • Colgate University
  • College of Mount Saint Vincent
  • College of New Rochelle
  • College of Saint Rose
  • Columbia University
  • Concordia College
  • The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
  • Cornell University
  • The Culinary Institute of America (NY)
  • D'Youville College
  • Daemen College
  • Elmira College
  • Fordham University
  • Hamilton College
  • Hartwick College
  • Hilbert College
  • Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  • Hofstra University
  • Houghton College
  • Iona College
  • Ithaca College
  • Keuka College
  • Le Moyne College
  • List College The Jewish Theological Seminary
  • Long Island University Brooklyn
  • Long Island University Post
  • Manhattan College
  • Manhattanville College
  • Marist College
  • Marymount Manhattan College
  • Mercy College
  • Molloy College
  • Mount Saint Mary College
  • Nazareth College
  • The New School
  • New York Institute of Technology (NYIT)
  • New York School of Career & Applied Studies of Touro College & University System
  • New York University
  • Niagara University
  • Pace University
  • Paul Smith's College
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Roberts Wesleyan College
  • Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Russell Sage College
  • Sage College of Albany
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Siena College
  • Skidmore College
  • St. Bonaventure University
  • St. John Fisher College
  • St. John's University (NY)
  • St. Joseph's College - Brooklyn Campus
  • St. Joseph's College - Long Island Campus
  • St. Lawrence University
  • St. Thomas Aquinas College
  • SUNY Alfred State College
  • SUNY Binghamton University
  • SUNY Buffalo State College
  • SUNY Cobleskill
  • SUNY College at Brockport
  • SUNY College at Geneseo
  • SUNY College at Old Westbury
  • SUNY College at Oneonta
  • SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry
  • SUNY College of Technology at Canton
  • SUNY Cortland
  • SUNY Delhi
  • SUNY Farmingdale State College
  • SUNY Fredonia
  • SUNY Maritime College
  • SUNY Morrisville State College
  • SUNY New Paltz
  • SUNY Oswego
  • SUNY Plattsburgh
  • SUNY Polytechnic Institute (Formerly SUNYIT)
  • SUNY Potsdam
  • SUNY Purchase College
  • SUNY Stony Brook University
  • SUNY University at Albany
  • SUNY University at Buffalo
  • Syracuse University
  • Union College
  • University of Rochester
  • Utica College
  • Vassar College
  • Wagner College
  • Wells College


North Carolina

  • Davidson College
  • Duke University
  • Guilford College
  • High Point University
  • Johnson and Wales University - Charlotte
  • Meredith College
  • North Carolina State University
  • Queens University of Charlotte
  • Salem College
  • St. Andrews University
  • University of North Carolina Asheville
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of North Carolina Wilmington
  • Wake Forest University
  • Warren Wilson College


North Dakota



  • Antioch College
  • Baldwin Wallace University
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Capital University
  • Case Western Reserve University
  • College of Wooster
  • Denison University
  • Hiram College
  • John Carroll University
  • Kenyon College
  • Lake Erie College
  • Lourdes University
  • Malone University
  • Marietta College
  • Miami University (Ohio)
  • Oberlin College of Arts and Sciences
  • Oberlin Conservatory of Music
  • Ohio Northern University
  • The Ohio State University
  • Ohio University
  • Ohio Wesleyan University
  • Otterbein University
  • University of Akron Main Campus
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Dayton
  • The University of Findlay
  • The University of Toledo
  • Ursuline College
  • Wilberforce University
  • Wittenberg University
  • Xavier University



  • Oklahoma City University
  • The University of Oklahoma
  • The University of Tulsa



  • Concordia University - Portland, OR
  • George Fox University
  • Lewis & Clark College
  • Linfield College
  • Pacific University Oregon
  • Reed College
  • University of Portland
  • Willamette University



  • Albright College
  • Allegheny College
  • Alvernia University
  • Arcadia University
  • Bryn Mawr College
  • Bucknell University
  • Cabrini College
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • Cedar Crest College
  • Chatham University
  • Delaware Valley University
  • DeSales University
  • Dickinson College
  • Drexel University
  • Elizabethtown College
  • Franklin and Marshall College
  • Gannon University
  • Gettysburg College
  • Haverford College
  • Immaculata University
  • Juniata College
  • Keystone College
  • King's College
  • La Roche College
  • La Salle University
  • Lafayette College
  • Lebanon Valley College
  • Lehigh University
  • Lycoming College
  • Marywood University
  • Mercyhurst University
  • Millersville University
  • Moravian College
  • Muhlenberg College
  • Neumann University
  • Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
  • Philadelphia University
  • Robert Morris University (PA)
  • Rosemont College
  • Saint Francis University
  • Saint Joseph's University
  • Saint Vincent College
  • Seton Hill University
  • Susquehanna University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Temple University
  • Thiel College
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • University of the Sciences
  • The University of Scranton
  • Ursinus College
  • Villanova University
  • Washington & Jefferson College
  • Westminster College (Pennsylvania)
  • Widener University
  • Wilkes University
  • Wilson College


Rhode Island

  • Brown University
  • Bryant University
  • Johnson and Wales University - Providence
  • New England Institute of Technology
  • Providence College
  • Rhode Island College
  • Rhode Island School of Design
  • Roger Williams University
  • Salve Regina University
  • University of Rhode Island


South Carolina

  • Columbia College (SC)
  • Converse College
  • Furman University
  • Newberry College
  • Presbyterian College
  • Wofford College


South Dakota

  • Augustana University (South Dakota)



  • Belmont University
  • Christian Brothers University
  • Fisk University
  • Middle Tennessee State University
  • Rhodes College
  • Sewanee: The University of the South
  • The University of Tennessee Knoxville
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Watkins College of Art, Design, and Film



  • Austin College
  • Baylor University
  • The Culinary Institute of America (TX)
  • Rice University
  • Southern Methodist University
  • Southwestern University
  • St. Edward's University
  • Texas Christian University
  • Texas Lutheran University
  • Trinity University
  • University of Dallas
  • University of North Texas



  • Westminster College (Utah)



  • Bennington College
  • Castleton University
  • Champlain College
  • College of St. Joseph
  • Goddard College
  • Green Mountain College
  • Johnson State College
  • Lyndon State College
  • Marlboro College
  • Middlebury College
  • Norwich College
  • Saint Michael's College
  • Sterling College
  • University of Vermont



  • Christopher Newport University
  • The College of William & Mary
  • Emory & Henry College
  • George Mason University
  • Hampden-Sydney College
  • Hollins University
  • Lynchburg College
  • Marymount University
  • Old Dominion University
  • Randolph College
  • Randolph-Macon College
  • Roanoke College
  • Sweet Briar College
  • University of Mary Washington
  • University of Richmond
  • University of Virginia
  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Washington and Lee University



  • Gonzaga University
  • Pacific Lutheran University
  • Saint Martin's University
  • Seattle Pacific University
  • Seattle University
  • University of Puget Sound
  • Whitman College
  • Whitworth University


West Virginia

  • Bethany College
  • West Virginia University
  • West Virginia Wesleyan College
  • Wheeling Jesuit University



  • Beloit College
  • Carroll University
  • Carthage College
  • Concordia University Wisconsin
  • Edgewood College
  • Lawrence University
  • Marquette University
  • Northland College
  • Ripon College
  • St. Norbert College
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison
  • University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point




District of Columbia

  • American University
  • The Catholic University of America
  • The George Washington University
  • Howard University


Puerto Rico

  • Universidad del Sagrado Corazon







  • American University in Bulgaria


  • Bishop's University
  • Quest University Canada
  • St. Thomas University, Canada



  • University of Michigan - Shanghai Jiao Tong University Joint Institute



  • The American University of Paris



  • Bard College Berlin
  • Jacobs University Bremen


Hong Kong



  • Mary Immaculate College
  • University of Limerick



  • The American University of Rome
  • John Cabot University in Rome







  • Northwestern University in Qatar




South Korea

  • Underwood International College, Yonsei University



  • IE University
  • Saint Louis University - Madrid Campus



  • Franklin University Switzerland


United Kingdom

  • Bath Spa University
  • Birmingham City University
  • Durham University
  • Hult International Business School - London
  • Keele University
  • King's College London
  • Newcastle University
  • Northumbria University
  • Plymouth University
  • Regent's University London
  • Richmond the American International University in London
  • St. Mary's University, Twickenham, London
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Derby
  • University of East Anglia
  • University of East London
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Huddersfield
  • University of Lincoln
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of St Andrews
  • University of Stirling
  • University of Warwick
  • University of West London
  • University of Worcester (UK)

 College list via the Common Application.


 What’s Next?

The Common Application isn’t the only application you can use. Learn about the Universal College Application and what sets it apart.

Working on your college essay?Learn what not to do.

Trying to decide if you should retake the SAT or ACT? Learn how to develop a target ACT score or SAT score based on the colleges you want to apply to. You can also read about ACT/SAT scores for the Ivy League.


Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:


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