Mar 25, 2021

James Madison University joins the Common Application


The Common Application announced today the addition of over 30 new members for 2021-22,
including James Madison University. JMU joins 28 other Virginia colleges and universities currently onboard with the Common App, which has long been used by the University of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, the University of Richmond, Washington and Lee University, George Mason University, Hampton University, and most recently Virginia Tech. With the addition of JMU, the Common App will be accepted by all but two of Virginia’s public institutions.

Common App’s newest members also include nine public universities in Illinois, which joined the platform as part of a state effort to increase college access. Three public universities in the state, Northern Illinois, Chicago State and the University of Illinois Chicago are already members. The addition of the other public universities makes Illinois the second state in the nation to have all public universities use the Common App, according to a press release from Northeastern Illinois University.

The Common App annually serves and supports over three million students, teachers and counselors in the U.S. and around the world. And with the addition of several well-known institutions including the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the University of Alabama, and the Colorado School of Mines, these numbers are bound to increase significantly.

“Key to our mission at Common App is lowering the logistical and systemic barriers to college access,” said Jenny Rickard, President and CEO of Common App. “Thanks to our diverse membership, all students, regardless of their background, have the opportunity to apply to the colleges or universities that will help them achieve their best future.

Membership in The Common Application is open to colleges sharing the organization’s mission of advancing college access and must be

  • Not-for-profit
  • Undergraduate degree-granting
  • Accredited by an association recognized by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education
  • If located outside the U.S., a member of the Council of International Schools
  • Committed to the pursuit of access, equity and integrity in the college admission process

Member institutions are no longer required to also be members of the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC). The requirement to evaluate students using a “holistic” selection process including a recommendation and an untimed writing sample (essay) was also dropped to accommodate a wider variety of member institutions.

  As a result, Common App membership before any new members are included includes

  • Colleges from all 50 states plus Washington, DC and Puerto Rico
  • 400+ colleges with no application fee
  • More than 75% with admission rates greater than 50%
  • 200+ public universities
  • Over 50 minority-serving institutions and 10 historically black colleges
  • 60+ international universities
  • Over 630 accepting transfer applications

But the Common App isn’t the only online application from which students can choose. They may consider the Coalition Application or the Universal College Application (UCA). The Common Black College Application enables students to apply to any number or combination of 55 HBCUs for a single low fee. The QuestBridge National College Match application is currently welcomed by 45 highly selective colleges and universities. And a significant number of colleges, including Georgetown University and MIT, use a variety of school-based applications created specifically to meet their institutional needs.

With all these different application platforms, it’s not unusual for a college or university to offer two or more options for prospective students. While the Common App remains by far the most popular of the platforms, it’s usually worth investigating how other applications are structured and what specific questions are asked. There can be significant differences some of which might provide better vehicles for presenting credentials.

But the Common App can’t be beat for its reach into a variety of academic communities. And among the new member colleges and universities offering the Common Application for 2021-2022 are

Gordon College (MA), Manor College (PA), Westfield State University (MA), Via Maria College (NY), Pratt Institute (NY)

Concordia University-Ann Arbor (MI), Eastern Illinois University (IL), Governors State University (IL), Grace College (IN), Illinois State University (IL), Indiana Tech (IN), Mount Saint Joseph University (OH), Northeastern Illinois University (IL), Rockford University (IL), Southern Illinois University-Carbondale (IL), Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (IL), University of Illinois at Springfield (IL), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (IL), University of Northwestern, St. Paul (MN), Western Illinois University (IL)

Austin Peay State University (TN), Belmont Abbey College (NC), Charleston Southern University (SC), James Madison University (VA), Mississippi College (MS), Saint Augustine’s University (NC), Texas Wesleyan University (TX), University of Alabama (AL), University of North Georgia (GA), Wingate University (NC)

Colorado Mesa University (CO), Fort Lewis College (CO), Colorado School of Mines (CO), Oregon Institute of Technology (OR), Portland State University (OR)

Lebanese American University, University of the Commonwealth Caribbean

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