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  • Writer's pictureJenny Deren

How the AXS Companion to Common App Can Help You Apply to College

Next week I will be attending the annual conference of the Ohio Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC), and I am very excited to be sharing information about the AXS Companion to Common App with high school counselors and college admission representatives while I’m there. 

In honor of this upcoming event – and because I love the AXS Companion so much! – I’ve decided to use this month’s blog article to show you how this incredible free resource can help you apply to college.

What is the AXS Companion?

The AXS Companion is a free, open-access web resource that contains written and video instructions for completing every part of the Common Application, which is the application platform used by over 1,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. (Most high school students applying to four-year colleges will use the Common App – and many will use the Common App for every application they submit!). 

The AXS Companion was created by professionals from the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) in partnership with Oregon State University’s eCampus. The goal of this tool is to provide free, high-quality application assistance to any student who needs or wants help, and to help students apply to more colleges. There is no charge to use the AXS Companion, and no registration is required. In fact, the AXS Companion does not ask for or collect any student information at all. 

AXS Companion videos feature free advice from college admission professionals, including both admission officers from a variety of colleges and universities and college consultants from IECA. Written materials and videos provide basic instruction on answering application questions, as well as higher level advice for maximizing descriptions of extracurricular activities and writing essays. The AXS Companion also includes incredibly useful information about financial aid and choosing colleges with affordability in mind. 

The AXS Companion is designed to “read” like a book, with different sections split into individual chapters. However, chapters do not need to be read sequentially, and students can jump around to any chapter or video as needed.

How Can the AXS Companion Help You Apply to College? 

The AXS Companion is useful for everyone, but here are some specific situations in which you’ll be glad to have it.

You’re applying to college, and you’re not sure where or how to start.

The Getting Started chapter introduces you to the Common Application, explains how to use the AXS Companion resource, and links you to helpful vocabulary and terminology that you’ll need as you move through the application process. Start here!

What is Common App from AXS Companion

You feel overwhelmed and crave structure in your application process.

The AXS Companion breaks the Common App into manageable chunks, and you might benefit from using AXS and Common App together. For example, you can begin by expanding the AXS Companion’s “Common App Tab” section in the Contents menu and start with the Create Your Common App Account chapter. After you have read the chapter and watched the relevant videos, you can create your Common App account. Then, you can move to the next chapter, which will explain how to complete the Profile section of your application. And so on. Breaking the Common App into smaller chunks will keep your stress level low and keep you on track for completing your application.

Create Your Common App Account from AXS Companion

You have questions about specific Common App sections.

Let’s say you’re working on your Common App, and it’s going fine until you get to the Courses & Grades section. You wonder how the information required for this section differs from the information required in the Current Year Courses part of the Education section. You wonder whether you need to complete it, even though your school counselor will also send an official transcript. And you don't understand what “Grading Scale” and “Schedule” mean, or which options to choose. You’re not sure what to do!

Open the AXS Companion, and navigate to the Courses & Grades chapter from the Contents menu. You’ll find detailed explanations, instructions, resources, tips, and reminders, in both written and video format – as well as suggestions for what to do if you still have questions.

Courses and Grades from AXS Companion

You want essay-writing help.

The AXS Companion provides more than just instruction in filling out basic application information! There are several incredibly useful videos and information about writing essays – both the Common App Personal Essay and supplemental essays for individual colleges and universities.

Tips on Essay Writing from AXS Companion

The Writing chapter also includes useful suggestions for answering the optional COVID-19 and Additional Information questions.

You need help creating a list of colleges to apply to.

The AXS Companion has several resources for college list building, including

You can’t figure out how to submit your applications!

Don’t worry; the AXS Companion has you covered. Check out the Submitting College Applications chapter, where you’ll find everything you need to know about sending off your applications and what to do next.

Application Submission from AXS Companion

What else should you know?

While the AXS Companion is LOADED with helpful information and advice, some of the videos start off a bit slow. If you begin a video and it feels pretty basic, skip ahead to see if there is more in-depth content in the middle or towards the end (chances are, there is!). 

In a similar vein, some of the speakers talk slower (or faster) than others. You can change the speed at which the video plays by clicking on the settings wheel in the bottom right hand corner of the video box in the AXS Companion and then clicking on “Playback speed” and selecting a slower or faster speed.

I find the Home page somewhat unexciting, and if you land there, you might be confused about what to do next. You can either scroll down for the Contents menu. Or you can click on the “Begin” button underneath the AXS Companion background information. Better yet, you can just start here instead, and then expand the Contents menu on the left to find what you’re looking for.

Recent updates to the AXS Companion include Spanish translations for financial aid videos in the Parents chapter, a Videos Only section if you want to skip the written content, and a chatbot for specific questions (click on “Need Help?” in the bottom right hand corner of any AXS Companion page).

The AXS Companion is excellent for both basic instruction and high-quality application advice. That said, it (obviously) can’t provide instruction or advice that is personalized to applicants’ unique situations. For more tailored guidance, ask your school counselor, teacher, mentor, trusted relative or friend, or an independent educational consultant (like me!). 

In closing, here are some shortcuts to my favorite AXS Companion videos (the ones I find especially helpful), organized by topic. Good luck, and have fun! 







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