Jun 18, 2009

The Common App Adds 49

Early in its history, the Common Application had to persuade colleges and universities that a single form could cover the application needs of many different post-secondary institutions. Although big names, like Harvard University and Amherst College, were on-board relatively early, it took conversion to a streamline electronic system to begin the stampede of schools signing on to take advantage of a service that appears to have some interesting recruitment benefits in addition to its obvious advantages as an application tool. This year, the Common Application announces the addition of 49 new schools to its growing roster of member institutions, bringing the total number of colleges and universities using some or part of its system to 392. A complete list of participating institutions is contained on the Common App website:


Note that the Common App is not the only electronic application in town. The Universal College Application went online two years ago with 13 member institutions. It now boasts of 80 participating schools, some of which use both applications.

The trend toward form sharing among colleges has come with a few interesting twists and turns. When the University of Chicago announced its conversion to the Common App a year ago, it seemed that the end of quirky college applications could not be far behind. But Chicago did not entirely abandon the annual competition among undergraduates to submit weird and daunting essay questions. Following the lead of many other schools wishing to retain some degree of individuality, these little gems may now be found in the Chicago supplement which is required of all undergraduate applicants in addition to the standard Common Application forms and essay. Similarly, it's most likely that Stanford still will ask its famous "roommate" short answer question and Penn will continue to want to know, "Why Penn?" as supplements to the Common Application.

This year, students submitted more than 1.6 applications, 1.3 million of those pesky supplements, and 1 million E-payments via the web-based Common Application. In addition, over 1.2 million teachers and counselors submitted materials using the online school forms system.

For the moment, the Common App Online is temporarily shut down (so is the Universal College Application). But look out. On July 1st it reappears in its 2009-2010 format. And, we're off to the races!

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