Jan 28, 2010

Use of the Common Application Continues to Grow As Local Colleges See Huge Application Increases

Now that the dust has settled from early January application deadlines, the Common Application system has been busy totaling up system utilization figures. And the numbers support early reports from colleges and universities suggesting yet another banner year for applications.

So far, the number of college applicants registering with the Common Application is up 15 percent and counting. The most recently-reported number of applications already submitted through the system totals over 1.7 million, or about 19 percent more than at this time last year. Between December 31st and January 1st, the peak application period, 2.47 submissions per second were processed, and if the trend continues, the Common App is on track to receive 1.9 million applications by July 15—the day the system shuts down for 2010.

Local Common Application member institutions clearly benefitted from the overall increase in system utilization. Loyola of Maryland (30 percent), Johns Hopkins (13 percent), and American University (12 percent) saw double-digit increases, followed by Richmond (9 percent), Washington and Lee (6 percent), GW (3 percent), and UVA (3-4 percent). Although still receiving applications, Trinity University is up by 39 percent and Catholic University has already received 31 percent more applications than last year.

The relative ease of online applications, sometimes coupled with incentives such as fee reductions or waivers, accounts for much of the rise in application numbers. But it may also be the unpredictability of enrollment management decisions and the desire to fish for financial aid that drives students to apply to multiple colleges and universities. “We’re finding that students are shopping among colleges,” said Christine Mica, Catholic University Dean of Admissions. “Even though the total number of high school graduates is going down, the number of applications submitted per student is going up, in part because they want to be able to compare financial aid packages.”

For juniors just beginning the college application process, officials from the Common App have a bit of useful news. The essay prompts on the 2010-11 Common Application will be identical to those found on the current version. And so the cycle will begin again!

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