Common Application Timeline

Simple Studies team
Published on
September 25, 2023

On August 1, 2023, the common app opened. Seniors across the globe will be applying to colleges under this system. However, it’s important to outline a plan before a billion deadlines come at you all at once. This blog will provide a detailed timeline of what tasks you should achieve. Please note that everyone’s timeline is different. This is just a good outline to look at when preparing for the whole process. 

  •  Make a college list!

On a Google sheet or Microsoft Excel, make a detailed college list, organized by your safety, target, and reach schools. It’s advised to have around 5 schools in each category. This is your time to research the schools 

  • Start drafting your essay!

On the notes app on your phone, make a list of topics and hobbies that are unique to you. Then, you should start writing your essays. It’s advised to just write a lot of first draft essays rather than trying to perfect one. Especially because you might think of a topic to write about, but after you start writing , you may find the topic  to be terrible. 

  • Send out your letters of recommendations to your teachers!

The faster you ask, the more likely they are to say yes and have one ready. You can also share a brag sheet with your teacher to help inform their writing! If you want a better quality letter from your teacher, you need to give them sufficient time, around x weeks. You will feel so relieved to get this one step out of the way. 


  • Decide on the admission choices 

This is the time period, where you need to finalize on the type of admission enrollment. Discuss with your parents and counselors if you are going to enroll in Early Decision (ED), Early Action (EA), and/or Regular Decision(RD) and make sure to add the date the application needs to be submitted onto your calendar. If you choose the ED option, I strongly advise that you dedicate this month for the application to that school.  

  • Draft the supplementary essays!

For each college on your list, you should start drafting the supplement writings. This may seem overwhelming, but you can always recycle your writing to make it fitting for each school. 

  • Get peer feedback on essays!

After writing numerous drafts for your personal essay, you should share them to peers that could provide you with positive and negative feedback. You may feel that you need to rewrite an essay and that is 100% okay. 


  •  Finalize your personal statement (especially if you choose to ED/EA)! 

Make sure you received enough feedback and you checked it multiple times.          

  • Submit your FAFSA!

Opens October 1st. Make sure you know about your family income and other information to determine how much federal aid you could receive. )

  • Submit scholarships that are due this month  

There are some large scholarships due this month, so make sure to finish your applications in time.

  • Start your 2nd draft of supplemental statements 

Continue your personal statements throughout this month. You can recycle for your different applications but make sure it doesn’t sound the same for every school.

  • Finalize activity descriptions 

The “Finalize” is only necessary if you're applying early. Otherwise, you can start your activity descriptions. I advise you to devote time in this section because making your descriptions detailed will help you become a stronger applicant. (Tip: write in a way that QUANTIFIES impact) 


  • Finalize all your supplementary deadlines
  • Submit your ED/EA application (deadline: 11/1)


  • Apply to any additional colleges that you have in mind 
  • Turn the applications due this month 


  • Turn in the remainder of your college applications 
  • Prepare for potential upcoming interviews


  • Apply for other scholarships


  • College acceptances will start coming out!

Make your final school choice by 5/1/24. It'll be here before you know it!

*Please note you do not have to follow this exactly-- this is just a general outline.*

Find more free resources here!


see more

Blog Articles


Get updates on resources, scholarships, & more 👇

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.