Before any of your academic information can be made available to your favorite colleges, a profile must be established on the Common Application website. This profile will require your contact information as well as your basic demographic information and origin. A few things to secure and consider before jumping feet first into the actual application include a copy of your high school transcript. Unofficial copies of this document are easy to get these days so have one available to avoid guessing about any credit you have been awarded. By now, every rising senior should have an updated resume. It will help you accurately recount your activities, work history, achievements, academic and extracurricular honors. You should also have your college entrance test scores handy. Many colleges have made SAT and ACT scores optional for the class of 2021 but a high score can still be of value in the admissions process if you have one. The other thing you will need is information about your parents; like where they went to college, approximate family income, resident status and the like.
The application would be fairly straightforward if the preceding list of things were all you needed. But, those are only the general components of the application. They are all well and good but colleges typically want more information than that so they request that supplemental pages be added to the basic application in order to learn more about the person requesting permission to attend their institution. Some colleges require very little additional information while supplements for others can add several pages to the otherwise simple application.
Be prepared to write an essay that will effectively communicate your point in 250-650 words. This may not be the only essay required by the college. Depending on the college and the major requested, there may be as many as eight additional essays of varying subjects and lengths. Be prepared to offer information about your high school and counselor. If you attended more than one high school, have information about all of them. The information mentioned so far should complete about 90% of the application. This completion percentage can change dramatically if the student has experienced discipline problems, is an international applicant or not a native English speaker. Get as many of your ducks in a row as possible before starting the application and the process will be much easier than expected.