The Common App and the Difference Between Online Applications & PDFs

Common App LogoAt College Essay Organizer we research college application requirements like it's our job. Actually, it is our job. And one of the odd sides of this job is that we are constantly finding inconsistencies between different versions of applications that schools put out, not to mention inconsistent or incorrect information explaining the application documents on the schools' sites.

One of the most notable disparities we've found is with the Common App itself. That's right, even the trusty old Common App has a significant difference between its paper (or PDF) version and its online version.

The paper version of the Common App calls for 150 words for it short essay, while the online version calls for 750 characters. The distinction is important, especially if you're running long, in which case the online version on the Common App will simply cut your writing off at the 750 character limit. So that 150-word essay can be significantly shorter if you're using big (some might say college-ready) vocabulary.

The Common App's short essay and optional space question are also worded differently. It's not a significant difference, though in many cases with colleges, different forms of college applications often feature different word counts, character limits, or even completely different questions! Just remember that College Essay Organizer is here to research these elements full time and contact the colleges to help resolve any confusion. So feel free to rely on us - it's our job.

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