Jul 24, 2010

Why Two Universities Chose the Universal College Application


Counselors touring with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in New Jersey (AICUNJ) were recently introduced to two AICUNJ members using the Universal College Application (UCA) instead of the more familiar Common Application for their admissions processes.

For very different reasons, Monmouth University, in West Long Branch (site of Woodrow Wilson’s summer beach home and gardens) and Fairleigh Dickinson University, with campuses in Madison and Teaneck, chose the UCA over the Common App for first-year and transfer applicants.

“We went with the Universal Application because we felt that students who completed it were more likely to be seriously interested in Monmouth,” said Lauren Vento Cifelli, Monmouth’s assistant vice president of enrollment management. “We want to be able to differentiate between students who are applying simply because it’s easy and those who would really like to attend.”

This year, institutional membership in the Common Application Association grew to 416 colleges and universities. A relative new-comer, the UCA includes about 80 participating institutions. Although most of the colleges using the UCA also accept the Common App, Monmouth and Fairleigh Dickinson University are exceptions. Both only accept the Universal College Application.

“We have two very different campuses and wanted customized applications for each,” said Joseph Paris, Fairleigh Dickinson’s assistant director of undergraduate admission. “The Common Application was not as flexible and could not accommodate our needs.”

Admissions representatives from both schools pointed to the quality of service from UCA as important factors in their decisions. And both like the UCA upload function which allows students to transmit digital content along with their applications.

For Monmouth, the ability to link to online content fits nicely with their new optional video statement. Students can protect their video confidentiality by using either the official Monmouth University Facebook page or the Universal Common Application.

Similarly, Fairleigh Dickinson encourages students to send audition or other performance videos in support of applications. Using the UCA, students can easily link to online videos, websites, portfolios, musical compositions, or newspaper articles they feel enhance their candidacy.

Other AICUNJ member institutions have signed on with the UCA. Drew University, in Madison, and St. Peter’s College, in Jersey City, accept both the UCA and the Common Application for the coming year.

Locally, Towson University is an “exclusive” user of the Universal College Application. Other area colleges using the UCA and the Common Application include Hampden-Sydney College, Johns Hopkins, College of Notre Dame of Maryland, and Stevenson University.

For early birds, the Universal College Application went live for 2010-11 on July 1st, while the Common App remains off-line until August 1st. The applications are similar in content, and applicants can feel free to use whichever offers the best opportunity to showcase qualifications or talents.

"Counselors on Tour" photo courtesy of Monmouth University and Blaze Nowara.

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