When I applied to colleges, I used the Common Application for four schools, including Ithaca College. It was convenient; I filled out one seven- or eight-page form that was sent to all of the schools on my list. As more colleges and universities decide to join the Common Application, counselors and critics wonder whether it is a good idea.
The primary intent of the Common App is simple; it’s convenient and time-saving. According to its website, the application was created in 1975 by 15 private colleges that wanted a standard application for students to submit to any of the member institutions. The Common App became so popular that 517 colleges and universities in the U.S. and Europe are member schools.
Gerard Turbide, director of admissions at Ithaca College, said the college has been using the Common App for many years but only as the sole way to apply for the past six years. Applications have increased since the the installment for the Common App, and it has proven to be an effective vehicle for admissions, Turbide added.
Because most member schools are small- or medium-sized colleges and universities, like Ithaca College, the Common App can boost their publicity. The more students using the Common App, the more likely current students are to refer their school to the next year’s applicants. If the college were to stop using the Common App, it could lose applicants because students tend to look for the easiest and fastest way possible to fill out college applications, especially if it means keeping everything in one place instead of completing different colleges’ applications and answering different questions for each.
However, critics of the Common App manage to disregard the perk of convenience. One disadvantage of the Common App’s popularity is an overwhelming increase in applications to member institutions, which creates more competition among different schools. According to the Chronicle for Higher Education, with more than 500 schools on one application, students may be more willing to apply to more schools than originally intended, even if they aren’t seen as “qualified” applicants. Admissions counselors may be frustrated if they are bombarded by mediocre applications.
Of course, it all comes down to convenience. If Ithaca College weren’t on the Common App, some of us may not be here because of a lack of motivation to fill out separate applications. In a way, the Common App is unifying, bringing students together with a click of a mouse.