How Do I Complete the Education Page of the Common App?

By: Judi Robinovitz | Last Updated: April 30, 2021

The Common Application Education Page – Tipstips on completing the education page on the Common App

Most questions on the Common Application’s Education page are quite straightforward. Here are some tips for those questions that are not:

Other Secondary/High Schools Section

If you’ve taken a high school course for credit outside of your home school (such as on FLVS), add the school/s to this section. Use the textbox to explain why you took this course (often for enrichment or to accommodate a scheduling conflict). Dual enrollment is noted under the Colleges/Universities section.

Colleges & Universities Section

If you’re graduating with the concurrent AA degree/high school diploma, don’t forget to select AA under “Degree earned.” Include the date of completion (e.g., May 2022) in the Additional Information section under Writing.

Grades Section

how to fill out the grades section on the common appIf you attend a public high school, your Class rank reporting is probably “Exact”− a specific number indicating your academic rank within your senior class. Your transcript should contain both your Class rank and the Graduating class size.

If you attend a private school, chances are that your school does not rank; in this case, select “none” for Class rank reporting.

There are also some schools that rank students in quartiles, quintiles, or deciles, all of which are selectable options on this page – and you’ll also be able to indicate in which quartile, quintile, or decile you fall.

If your high school does rank, then it’s likely that the rank is weighted – so select “weighted” in response to the Rank weighting question.

The Cumulative GPA should be the highest one reported on your transcript, if there is one. If not, it’s OK to leave it blank, as it’s not a required field. However, if you did specify your GPA, and your school’s grading scale equates a grade of A to 4 points, and a grade of B to 3 points, etc, then your GPA Scale is 4, even if your GPA is above a 4.0. If you go to a school with another grading scale, it’s best to check with your counselor to be certain what scale is used. The basic rule of thumb to identify your grading scale: use the number associated with a grade of A. If the Cumulative GPA you entered has extra weight added for courses like Honors, AP, IB, AICE, or Dual Enrollment, then select Weighted in response to GPA weighting; otherwise select Unweighted, or leave it blank if you do not know.

Current Year Courses Section

Before entering your senior-year courses, you’ll need to enter the number of courses you’d like to report. Both full-year courses, like AP English Language, and single-semester courses, like AP Comparative Government, count as one course despite the difference in course timing. Count your courses carefully before entering them, because if you realize you made a mistake after entering course names and then change the number of courses, you’ll have to re-enter the timing of each course (full-year, first semester, or second semester).

When enter your senior-year courses, list them in this order:

  • Englishhow to arrange your classes on the common app
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social science
  • Foreign language
  • Other core courses, such as Computer science
  • Non-core electives

You’ll be able to select the level of each course, such as H, AP, IB, AICE, or Dual Enrollment, so don’t include these abbreviations in the name of each course when you type it. 

Honors Section

Common App gives you room to list up to five academic honors. Begin with the most important honors, such as these recognitions: National Honor Society, AP Scholar, National Merit, AICE Diploma, IB Diploma, etc. If you have more than five academic honors, either drop the least important ones or combine a few together, like this:

Academic Achievement Awards: H Algebra 2 (9), H Precalc (10), AP Calc AB (11), AP Chem (11), AP English Lang (11)


National Honor Societies: NHS (11-12), Math (10-12), Spanish (10-12), French (11-12)

Note that we included years of involvement because the individual honors were in different years.

Future Plans Section

While it’s perfectly fine to be undecided when it comes to your future career and educational goals, don’t be afraid to share your aspirations – if you change your mind and don’t want to become an attorney or engineer, nobody will hold you to it – we promise! But, it does make your application look more decisive, especially if you indicate an interest in a specific major or pre-professional track, one that’s well supported by the rest of your application (e.g., academics, extracurriculars, recommendations). And be sure to select the highest degree you hope to earn, which is sure to reflect your academic vitality.

If you need more help, just ask! We literally help hundreds of students annually! 

Topics: College Admission Common Application Tutoring Educational Consulting


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