What is the Common App, and why might it be advantageous when filling out college applications?
The Common Application, or Common App as it’s widely known, is a non-profit membership organization comprised of approximately 900 colleges in all 50 states and 20 countries. Students can use it to search among the participating colleges and universities to determine where they might want to apply. Parameters include the location, campus setting, size and financial aid offerings. It’s completely free to students, but application fees to individual schools do apply.
It also features areas for counselors, advisors, parents, and teachers to monitor students’ progress within the application process. Additionally, teachers can use the platform to submit letters of recommendation.
Not an Entirely New Product
This may seem like a newer concept, but it actually started almost 40 years ago when a group of colleges combined efforts in an attempt to streamline the application process.
Previously, students filled out individual applications to each school where they were seeking admission. The applications were lengthy and many asked the same questions, making the process highly redundant. Students now use this online platform that populates necessary information and provides specialized areas for things like listing extracurriculars. A step-by-step guide walks users through the process, whether they’re applying for first-year admission, or as a transfer student.
While many schools now accept Common App, other schools still require individual applications with some accepting either Common or individual applications.
If a school does participate, they sign an agreement that they will not discriminate against any student who uses it. The process is made easier, but there’s still a lot of detail in the application process. Students must ensure they’ve provided their universities of choice with everything necessary on their admissions checklist by the appropriate deadlines.
One of the perceived negatives is that the Common App makes it easy to apply to a great number of schools. Students are cautioned to really think about what they’re looking for in a college experience, as well as what will suit their academic and financial needs so that they don’t waste time and money.
Common App definitely streamlines the application process, but it’s still important to have some guidance when applying to college. School counselors, college advisors and parents continue to play a crucial role in guiding students to the colleges and universities where they’ll have the best chance for success and happiness.
Below is an infographic of statistics from 2018-2019 Common App users. You can also download a PDF of this report.