Universities that don’t use the Common App cause unnecessary work

October 18, 2016 — by Eric Sze

Senior shares opinion on college applications which don't have a common app essay. 

With the college application season in full swing, seniors scrambling to meet deadlines and finish their essays are becoming experts on the Common Application.

Of course, some students have schools on their college list that don’t use the Common App. Instead, these schools opt to use their own application system, often instructing students to submit their applications directly from their website.

This is not only completely unnecessary, but also forces students to do extra work on their parts when they’re already juggling so many other activities — from trying to maintain their performance in school and complete college applications to participating in extracurriculars like sports or music.

To take just one, the application for Georgetown University, a school that chooses not to use the Common App, includes questions that are not much different from those on the Common App. For example, the first essay prompt Georgetown provides is “Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you.”

In comparison, the Common App’s first essay prompt is “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

Though the wording between these two prompts differs, they’re essentially asking the exact same thing from students: to share a personal statement. And because of this, other students are likely to recycle their majority of their Common App essay for Georgetown’s, though they still would have to adjust segments to fit Georgetown’s requirements.

Essentially, the only extra essay Georgetown asks applicants to write is a statement telling the university why the student has chosen to apply there. But this isn’t unique; in fact, almost every school asks for this information in their supplemental questions.

Georgetown is hardly alone. Schools that don’t use the Common App include the University of Michigan and Texas A&M. Even longtime holdouts such as Columbia University have joined the Common App (doing so six years ago).

Schools that aren’t on the Common Application often say they want their applicants to have researched their schools well and know that they really want to attend their university.

The truth is, though, that most students already research the schools they’re applying to. After all, if all but one rejects an applicant, the applicants need to be sure that they know that school well enough that they’re willing to spend the next four years there.

Furthermore, applying to college isn’t cheap. According to US News, the average college application fee is $41. With many students applying to 12-18 universities, that cost easily amounts to hundreds of dollars. Because of the high cost associated with college applications, students need to be sure that they’re spending their money wisely and not just randomly selecting colleges to apply to.

In the end, there’s not much reason for any university to be exempt from the Common Application. The essay prompts are nearly identical and their reasoning for creating their own application process make little sense. If all schools were to use the Common App, it would save students the stress of managing a handful of college application accounts and make the lives of seniors much easier.

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