Tips for Navigating the New Common App

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Whether applying to Hobart and William Smith for first-year admission through Early Decision I, Early Decision II or Regular Decision, prospective students are able to apply online using The Common Application.

To assist those who may have trouble navigating The Common App, the HWS Office of Admissions has developed a list of tips to help you manage the application process. The tips are designed to make your experience applying to HWS as easy as possible, while highlighting key information you may want to consider when completing The Common App.

If you have any questions about applying to HWS or using The Common Application, please call the Office of Admissions at 800-852-2256. We’ll be happy to help.

10 Tips for Navigating the New Common App

Prepare for filling in the blanks:

If you are applying for need-based aid, you are required to enter your social security number. You'll also need to provide the email addresses of your teachers and guidance counselor so they can be contacted to complete your recommendations.

Select your recommenders as soon as possible:

You will want to give your teachers and counselor plenty of time to complete their recommendations. The more time you give them, the more thoughtful and thorough they can be.

List the schools you're considering on your dashboard:

Since colleges want to communicate with you about deadlines, make sure to list your colleges on your dashboard. This is also important in case there are any changes caused by technical issues with the Common App. If you do not select a school, they can't communicate with you. For Hobart and William Smith, the deadlines are:

  • Nov. 15 - Early Decision I
  • Jan. 15 - Early Decision II
  • Feb. 1 - Regular Decision

Give yourself the credit you deserve:

Sometimes applicants will short-change themselves when they are listing honors and activities. Remember to include clubs, jobs or other activities that occur outside of school. There is room to list 10 activities and five honors on The Common App. Make sure to acknowledge your accomplishments!

Complete the activities section before you submit:

Once you click into the activities section, you will see a green check mark on the left side indicating that you have completed the section even though there may be more activities to add. Double-check your list before you submit.

Explain your honors and activities:

Sometimes the name of the award will not tell us why the honor was given. For example, college admissions officers may not know that your chapter of the National Honor Society is named for an alumna from 1962. Be sure to explain the significance of the award, not just the name.

Check your formatting:

There have been several reports about issues with the formatting of essays on the new Common App. In particular, spacing and special characters have been a problem. Try a different browser, such as Google Chrome.

Don't be afraid to click the submit button:

In order to preview your application, you need to go to the submit section. Once you click the submit button you will have a chance to preview your application before officially submitting it. Again, there have been reports of problems with previewing applications with certain browsers, so try a different one if you're having trouble.

HWS doesn't have an application fee for online submission:

There are known issues with students being charged an application fee more than once to file an application with only one school. Remember that HWS does not charge a fee for applying through the Common App website.

We want to know what you want us to know:

Just because there isn't a question about some aspect of your life, doesn't mean we don't want to know about it. Before you submit your application to HWS, make sure it gives us the information you want us to have to make a good admission decision. If there is something you want us to learn about you, make sure it is included. Better yet, arrange for an interview with HWS Admissions so we can get to know you in person.

The Common App

Common App

Click to use the Common Application Online

Early Decision Agreement Form


Please contact the Office of Admissions, (315) 781-3622, (800) 852-2256, if you have any questions.


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