Sep 29, 2013

331 Common App Member Colleges look like Geniuses

Johns Hopkins University
In addition to bringing on new software, this year the Common Application engaged in an aggressive marketing campaign to increase the number of  “exclusive” member colleges and universities for 2013-14. 

These are institutions that have contractually agreed to use only the Common Application and no other competing product for purposes of making admissions decisions.

To encourage exclusivity, colleges were offered significant price breaks—up to $2.00 per submitted application and the opportunity to use SlideRoom for portfolio submission—if they would agree to drop whatever other application stood in the way of students using the Common Application.

The deal was sweetened if the college agreed to be at the Exclusive II level (as opposed to the less-desirable Exclusive I level) by standardizing deadlines, application fees, and “other” components of the application.

The marketing to non-exclusive members was intense, with lots of promises about the new “smart technology” being introduced on August 1 and strong hints about the amount of money an institution could save to devote to other needs.

And more than once, it was pointed out that the Common Application is an industry rainmaker—able to bring in more applications than any other of its competitors. 

Out of 517 members, 123 agreed to be Exclusive II members of the Common Application for 2013-14.  Another 63 agreed to the Exclusive I arrangement.

Colleges rushing to take advantage of Exclusive II benefits included Wash U, Duke, Rice and a predictable cohort of highly selective colleges and universities, some of which had previously offered students a choice of application products. 

Notable holdouts included Harvard University, Howard University, Carleton College (optional “Part 1”pretty much provides most of what is needed for a decision), Davidson College, Loyola University Maryland, Rochester Institute of Technology, UNC Asheville and Wilmington, Wake Forest University, and Johns Hopkins University.  These schools either felt maintaining competition in the industry was important or had experienced success with a variety of application products.

And now these admissions offices look like geniuses.

In the wake of ongoing problems with the new Common Application software, member colleges including “exclusives” experienced significant delays getting their applications fully loaded onto the Common App website.  

Many are receiving ongoing complaints about “stealth” or disappearing essays, and all have to patiently wait for the Common App to provide link-ups to receive any applications at all—perhaps as late as October 15 according to some college websites.

While bugs in the system were to be expected for any software launch, the degree and level of seriousness of the Common App’s problems as they affect applicants, recommenders, and colleges simply were not anticipated by anyone.

But the 331 non-exclusive members have alternative arrangements and are currently receiving applications despite the clog in the system over at the Common Application.

And they are quietly encouraging students to go ahead and use the “other” application, although colleges making the mistake of posting this suggestion on websites have been warned to remove it, as  Common App agreements prohibit colleges from showing favoritism to any alternative application form—even when the Common App isn’t working properly and can’t provide the completed applications as promised.

For those seeking alternatives and wanting to avoid headaches with the Common App, the following is a partial list of non-exclusive members all of which offer alternative electronic or paper applications (check with admissions offices or websites for details):

Allegheny College, PA
Augsburg College, MN
Belmont University, TN
Bryant University, RI
Butler University, IN
Calvin College, MI
Carleton College, MN
Catholic University, DC
College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University, MN
Davidson College, NC
DePaul University, IL
Drew University, NJ
Drexel University, PA
Eckerd College, FL
Emerson College, MA
Florida Southern College, FL
Fordham University, NY (transfers and readmits only)
Harvard University, MA
Hollins University, VA
Hood College, MD
Hope College, MI
Howard University, DC
Johns Hopkins University, MD
Lake Forest College, IL
Loyola University Maryland
Loyola University New Orleans
Lynn University, FL
Macalester College, MN
McDaniel College, MD
Mills College, CA
New College of Florida
Oglethorpe University, GA
Pace University, NY
Quinnipiac University, CT
Randolph College, VA
Randolph-Macon College, VA
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), NY
Roanoke College, VA
Roger Williams University, RI
Rollins College, FL
Salisbury University, MD
St. John’s College Maryland
St. Olaf College, MN
Stetson University, FL
Stevenson University, MD
Susquehanna University, PA
Towson University, MD
University of Dayton, OH
University of Denver, CO
U of San Francisco, CA
University of Tampa, FL
Wake Forest University, NC
Washington College, MD
Xavier University, OH

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