I just wrote about the impossibility of correcting or changing the Common App once it has been submitted to a college. You can read that here.
Thanks to the research / detective work done by commenters Kim and Ilana DeBare, I need to correct my post. The process is not simple nor self-evident, but it can be done.
Here’s what Kim wrote:
Regarding the problem of wanting to change the essay for another college after you’ve already submitted the application to one school: While trying to find an answer to a problem my daughter was having with the Common Application, I searched all over their website one day and stumbled upon “alternate version”.
Here’s how I got there: On their website, go to “Contact Us” for a drop-down menu, then click on “Support Center”. Then click on “Application Support Center”, then “Completing the Application” (on the left), then “General Questions”. Number 7 says “I want to create another version of my application”. In the instructions it specifically says, “All data will be transferred from the original version to the alternate and it is all editable. However, any uploads you’ve done (personal essay or additional information) will not be transferred.”
It appears this is how you would solve the problem of wanting to change your essay. Haven’t tried this ourselves, but let us know if you do.
Here’s Ilana’s follow-up:
Yes, there is a way to create alternative versions for different colleges. Kim is right. You create one version to begin with. Then you go to a special url, http://tinyurl.com/alternateversion and login with your existing username and password.
That will take you to the Common App page, where you will see info about the app you’ve already submitted. Click on the “replicate” link to make the alternate version. When this is complete, a second version will appear on your screen and a drop-down list will appear in the upper right hand corner so you can toggle between different versions.
You only need to go that tinyurl link the first time. If you want to create further versions, you can do it from the Replicate link on your main Common App page.
You will have a separate MyColleges page for each version. To move an institution from one version to another, select the college an click the “move colleges” button.
Mod Squad Pete does have a change he wants to make before submitting the Common App for regular admission, so he’ll be trying this soon. Maybe I can get him to report back?
Thank you again to Kim and Ilana for the help!