The Common Application is, as the name implies, a uniform application that is accepted at over 488 colleges across the country. Some of its benefits and drawbacks are outlined below:
To Admission Committees
|+ Only one essay||+ Encourage more applicants to apply|
|+ Time savings||+ Simplified process also leads to more applicants|
|+ Send more applications with less effort||- Less individuality among applicants|
The Common Application Versus the College’s Own Application
Some colleges and universities offer the option of using the common application or the school’s specific application. Officially, schools do not have a preference for their own form and essays over the common application. Colleges must in fact sign a pledge promising not to give preference to the applicants who complete the school-specific application.
Unofficially, there is indeed a slight bias towards the candidates who complete the school-specific applications and answer the more customized essay questions. Those that do make themselves appear more sincere about the college.
Our Advice to You
Consider these questions when you consider a college that accepts both the Common Application and a school-specific application:
- Are you a “stretch” at this school?
- Do you really want to attend this school?
- Do you have the time to spend on this school’s application without jeopardizing your other application deadlines?
- Are you confident that you can do a better job presenting yourself in the school-specific application than the Common Application?
If you answered “yes” to all these questions, then use the college-specific application over the Common Application.