The time to start is now.

Everything You Need to Know About the Common App’s Brand New “Context & Background” Section

Ivy Divider

The Common Application is live for the 2022-23 application season, which means students can begin submitting their applications right now! Students who made their Common App accounts and began exploring the platform prior to August 1, 2022 may have noticed that there’s a new section this year that some schools are opting to include in their “Application Questions.”

This section is called “Context & Background” and it reads:

Sometimes students’ academic record and extracurricular activities are impacted by family responsibilities or other circumstances. Colleges want to better understand these responsibilities and circumstances. You may repeat some information you already provided in the Common App Activities section.


Which of these do you spend significant time doing? Please select each activity on which you spend 8 or more hours per week.


_Assisting household members with situations such as doctor appointments, bank visits, or visa interviews 

_Cooking meals for my household 

_Driving around family members 

_Helping someone who does not live in my house (neighbor, etc.) 

_House tasks – cleaning, laundry, etc. 

_Interpreting or translating for household members 

_Living in an environment without reliable internet access 

_Living on my own/ don’t live at home 

_Managing family finances, budget, and/ or paying bills 

_Religious practice/ study 

_Taking care of animals 

_Taking care of my siblings 

_Taking care of sick, disabled, and/ or elderly members of my household 

_Taking care of my own child/children 

_Working at a paid job to contribute to my household’s income 

_Working (paid or unpaid) for a family business 

_Yard work/ farm work 

_Other (please describe) 

Students may check as many boxes as they like, but the Common App specifies that the applicant must spend eight (8) or more hours per week on each of the activities selected.

This is an exciting development in the college application world, since many students bear responsibilities at home that prevent them from engaging more deeply with their school community and extracurricular activities. 

Should you choose to select “Other,” a text box will appear for you to expand in 150 characters or fewer. We recommend using the words at your disposal to enlighten admissions as to the ways in which you allocate your time and contribute to your household.

If you do not spend at least eight (8) hours per week doing any of the activities listed, feel free to skip this section. Admissions will still be able to learn about what you do outside of the classroom through your activity list

As always, we wish you the best of luck! 🙂

Interested in more free resources and advice?
Ivy Divider

Check out our YouTube Channel!

Share this page:

Want free stuff?