A Common Application for college

By Emily Ness on August 21, 2013
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In this technology-driven world, students can learn with computers, socialize with computers and with online applications like The Common Application, they can apply to colleges using only a computer.These days, everything is happening online, and The Common Application is keeping up with this trend by allowing students to fill out just one application and send it to any of the more than 500 colleges and universities that partner with them.“It was a way of providing assistance or ease to students who are applying to a number of universities, who, in the past, had to create separate applications for each school,” an admissions officer at Rice University said.In its first year, 1975, The Common Application’s membership included 15 schools. Today, 517 colleges and universities are members. Students by the millions are taking advantage of this resource. Rob Killion, executive director of The Common Application, said the organization’s biggest challenge has been “managing our explosive growth.”

Ten years ago, about 1,250 applicants submitted online, Killion said. In 2010-11, almost 2.5 million Common Apps were submitted, according to Applywise, an online college admissions counseling program. The Common App has also launched a free online system where high schools can submit transcripts and letters of recommendation.

‘It wasn’t difficult at all’

 Cally Quist applied to Augsburg College in Minneapolis using The Common Application. “The Internet was better than a written application,” she said. “It was easier, simpler and more professional.”The application has all the basics of any print application, such as high school academic information, test scores and an essay. Quist said the essay asked her to explain why she wanted to attend Augsburg based on the school’s mission statement. “It wasn’t difficult at all,” she said about the application. “It was straightforward, fill-in-the-blank.”

For colleges, it allows access to half a million students throughout the world, from every background, helping them enroll a diverse student body, Killion said.

At the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, The Common App is the only application accepted. “Since their electronic application has received excellent reviews from students, high school counselors and admissions officers, we decided to also go completely with The Common Application,” said Daniel Saracino, assistant provost for enrollment before he retired.

A holistic approach
Killion said a student’s individuality will be get noticed, even with a generic application. “The unique aspects of a student’s application –
their course selection, their choice of extracurricular activities and achievements, the quality of their writing and the quality of their recommendations – will come through regardless of whether they’re using The Common App or an institutional app,” he said.  Holistic admission is based on subjective criteria like essays and recommendations rather than only admitting students based on numbers such as GPA and test scores. The Common App’s central mission, Killion said, is to promote holistic admission.

The Common App and other online applications are here to stay and will continue to grow and cement their place in the college admissions process.

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Emily Ness

Emily Ness

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