The Common App: What is it and Why is it Important?

Founded in 1975, the Common Application Organization, more commonly referred to as the Common App, is an application system for undergraduate college admissions. It is an organization that consists of over 700 colleges and universities across 48 states and all around the world. The Common App allows students to complete one application that can be sent to each of their choice schools, rather than submitting several individual applications. It also deals with other facets of college enrollment and readiness including financial aid, scholarship opportunities, and free mentoring.

The Common App is comprised of several elements. Rather than focusing in on one’s standardized testing scores, GPA, and class rank, the Common App introduces a more subjective element to the college admissions process. Depending on the application guidelines of their desired institution, students may be required to submit teacher recommendations and supplemental essays along with their main essay– all of which give admission officers a more rounded perspective on each of their applicants.

As many college-bound students know, the admissions process can be grueling especially in this competitive modern era. The Common App attempts to alleviate some of the overwhelming workloads that students are forced to manage when applying to colleges. According to Jenny Rickard, President and Chief Executive of the Common Application Organization, the program is a “proven engine for advancing college access” and has had a “transformative effect” on the admissions process. Since its conception more than 40 years ago, the Common App has been steadily increasing in popularity. During the 2015-2016 school year, over one million students submitted more than four million applications via Common App. This number is projected to climb even higher during the 2017-2018 year.

Not only does the Common App reduce a great amount of stress that is pressed on students, but it is also committed to its mission: pursuing “access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process.” The Common App allows those who are less privileged to have an equal opportunity as their counterparts by informing students about the “value, attainability, and affordability of a college degree.” As a result, universities are able to form a diverse class of students from across the nation and even internationally, all of whom come from varying backgrounds.

In a time when students often find themselves applying to 10 or more schools, the Common App is a vital tool for increasing both the manageability and accessibility of colleges. The organization will likely continue growing in size until it has expanded into every state and even further internationally.

Heather Loo and Elizabeth Gaillard
staff writers 

Graphics: Maraea Garcia

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