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Common App 2023-2024 Quick Guide

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By Ian Parker on August, 30 2023 | 6 minute read

Every year, Collegewise releases our highly trusted Guide to the Common App, and we're excited to announce that this year's 2023-2024 edition has arrived! Read on to find out what things have changed, how to stay successful, and where to download our latest version.

We’ve got a tradition here at Collegewise. Every year, without fail, we go through the Common App with a fine-toothed comb, looking for any question that might confuse a student or any place an applicant can add a bit of useful context. This year is no different: a team of ten Collegewise counselors reviewed this year’s Common App, comparing it to last year’s version and identifying where we can add a bit of clarity. The payoff of this work, of course, is Collegewise’s annual Guide to the Common App, which we’re thrilled to present here. 

However, this blog will be your ultimate Common App quick guide and share a brief overview of what's changed this year and how students can successfully navigate these new additions!

Let's get into it. 

Common App 2023-2024 Updates: What's New?


  1. Many of the big changes this year revolved around that theme, inclusivity. The first major change related to the question of legal sex that is required on the Common Ap Students will now find "X or another legal sex" as an option to select. This update will give all applicants an opportunity to answer the question as reflected on their government identification documents.  
  2. The second change is tied to the name an applicant goes by. This year, applicants who go by a name that is different than their legal first name can now be identified that way. 
  3. Lastly, in June 2023 the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that colleges can no longer use race and identity as part of the evaluation process. While applicants can still report race and identity on their application, colleges can (and will likely) suppress this information. For more information on the recent Affirmative Action ruling, download our free guide today!

User Friendly

  1. The Common App is turning fun! This year, students can select an avatar image, assign a color, and use it with their Common App profile.
  2. The Common App has also introduced more prominent disclaimers about school-specific information and policies to better help students navigate their applications.


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Tips for Seniors Applying this Cycle

Start Planning Early!

Summer is coming to an end and back-to-school season is here. If you or your teen are applying to colleges this application cycle, there is no better time to get familiar with the application, shortlist colleges, and browse essay prompts than the present. The last thing students want is to procrastinate until later in the fall when they are juggling college applications, exam season, coursework, and more. Start early, your future self will appreciate you for it!

Younger students, did you know the Common App rolls over every year? Students who are interested in familiarizing themselves with the application platform can do so without losing their information or progress! 

Read Supplemental Essay Prompts in Advance

Many colleges have already released their 2023 supplemental essay prompts, and those are all available to students online. The best way to get ahead of the many essays students will likely have to write is to understand what questions you will be asked and give yourself enough time to think about thoughtful responses. 

For more tips on how to approach supplemental essay writing, watch our YouTube video, Cracking the Supplemental Essay

Be First to Get Letters of Recommendation

October is a tough month for grade 11 teachers. Not only are you (or your teen) asking for a letter of recommendation but there are probably hundreds of other students who are asking the same. Here's why students should be the first in line to ask their teachers for recommendation letters:

  1. The early bird gets the worm. A rushed teacher likely won't have the time to write out a very thoughtful, authentic letter of recommendation. Giving teachers enough time to brainstorm and write will lead to more effective letters. 
  2. It's a nice thing to do. Who wants to do a favor for a student that doesn't respect their time? No one. The same goes for teacher recommendations. Teachers will greatly appreciate the proactive students who ask early, and in turn, will write a potentially glowing recommendation letter!
  3. Gives them a heads-up. Students should never send teachers a Common App recommendation letter invitation before asking them or giving them notice. 

Fact Check Your Information

The Common App and admissions officers don't know you, your family, or your situation. Be sure to sit down with your parents or guardians and go through the Education and Family sections of the Common App to ensure the information you are submitting is accurate. The last thing you want to happen is you're ineligible for financial aid because you guessed how much your family income is! 


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Final Thoughts

The Common App is used by millions of students every year and our guide has been downloaded by 15,000+ families. It’s one of the things we take great pride in around here — we frequently hear from school counselors, students, and parents how helpful our Guide has been to their work, and it’s incredibly rewarding to chronicle the Common App’s journey toward its mission of true inclusivity for all students. We hope that our Guide helps contribute to that mission.

One of our principles at Collegewise is that information should be shared freely with anyone who can benefit from it. So please share this guide with anyone who might find it useful. Happy reading — and good luck with your applications!

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About Us: With more than 23 of experience, Collegewise counselors and tutors are at the forefront of the ever-evolving admissions landscape. Our work has always centered on you: the student. And just like we’ve always done, we look for ways for you to be your best self - whether it’s in the classroom, in your applications, or in the right-fit college environment. Our range of tools includes counselingtest prepacademic tutoring, and essay management, all with the support of our proprietary platform, leading to 4x higher than average admissions rates. 

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