Jun 11, 2012

Electronic Applications Gear-up for 2012-13

Johns Hopkins University
Both the Common Application and the Universal College Application (UCA) will be going off line during the summer for the purpose of clearing the boards and retooling. And both will be back in action just in time for the official start of the 2012-13 college application season.

On Friday, July 13, at 11:59 pm Eastern Time, the 2011-12 Common Application will be closing for maintenance. At that point, all current application accounts will be deleted in preparation for the August 1, 2012 launch. Students will not be able to save information already entered, but they are welcome to download and print out a .pdf version of the application using the “preview” function.

Students applying to Common App member schools with rolling deadlines or deadlines after July 13 may still use the paper version and submit via regular mail.

The UCA will temporarily go off line on Monday, June 25th.  The 2012-13 version will be available on July 1st.  Note that although there will be no changes to the UCA forms, the Early Decision Agreement can now be completed and submitted online.

Students wishing to use the UCA to apply to any of several colleges still accepting applications for fall of 2012 should use the “Print Preview” function to print out the form before June 25 with the information they have entered, then complete the missing fields by hand, and mail the paper version to the college.

Now is the time to get familiar with both electronic application forms by visiting their respective websites. Make note of which colleges use which form and determine where there may be some overlap on your college list. Locally, Johns Hopkins University, Notre Dame of Maryland University, St. Mary's College of Maryland, and Towson University accept both forms.  Other colleges using both the Common App and the UCA include Duke, Harvard, Wake Forest, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Although the Common App and the UCA ask similar questions, there are subtle differences. For example, the UCA is less directive than the Common App with regard to the personal statement, and the language around “disciplinary history” is slightly less threatening. The Common App, however, gives applicants more opportunity to provide information concerning proficiency in multiple foreign languages and allows colleges to ask probing questions around "future plans" if they choose.

The biggest difference between the two online forms, however, remains the availability of UCA’s multimedia link, which is located within the form and not in a supplement. Students using the UCA may easily link to online content without sending application readers scurrying around for CD’s, DVD’s, or portfolios. And that's a good thing!
For the record, you choose to submit one form or the other—not both!  And keep in mind many schools use their own electronic forms or forms developed specifically for use by state schools such as those in use for California and Texas.

Although application supplements will not be available from either the Common Application or the UCA until the official launch dates, some colleges have begun the process of posting 2012-13essay questions on their websites. Students wanting to get a head start on those essays can search websites or contact colleges directly. And keep in mind that the main Common App and UCA essay prompts are not changing for next year.

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