July 28, 2021
The Common App for the 2021-2021 application cycle opens on August 1, 2021, and there are few changes this year. The changes fall in one of seven broad categories below. Click one or read on for a more detailed breakdown of the changes in each of these sections.
The Common App has announced that 64 new colleges and universities have become members, and will begin accepting the Common Application for the 2021-2022 admissions year.
These schools include all the public universities in Illinois who were not already using the Common App. As part of a state initiative to increase access to college, Illinois has become the first state in the country to require its public four-year colleges to use the Common App.
Illinois State University Director of Admissions Jeff Mavros commented, "Allowing students to apply with the Common App will make our institution even more accessible to students in Illinois, the Midwest, and nationally on a platform that is well recognized and provides access and convenience for prospective students."
Dr. Amy Hutton, Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management at The University of Alabama commented,
"UA is known for providing a simple and straightforward application for admission, and joining the Common App provides another method of accessibility for students who are ready to become leaders, innovators and legends.”
A full list of new Common App schools will be released on August 1st, 2021, when the Common App opens. Review a list of new member schools by name, region, or state and complete list of all of the 921 Common App member colleges..
In 2016, the Common App added a text box where students could choose to explain their gender identities. In the 2020-2021 application cycle, more than 69,000 students (out of over a million who filled out the App) used that box to clarify some aspect of their identity. Seeing the numbers of students who used this box, Common App decided to revise their gender-related questions to better represent all students filling out the application, including transgender and non-binary students.
Jenny Rickard, president and chief executive officer of Common App says, "These shifts represent the next step in an ongoing effort to create an equitable, just, and inclusive application for all students - no matter how they choose to identify."
As part of the Evolving the App project to ensure that the Common App questions do not create barriers to college access, The Common App conducted user testing with undocumented/DACA students and international students. The students we asked to run through several version of the app ensure that all questions about citizen status, geography, and family are clear, represent the full range of options for these students, and do not create barriers to college. Member schools were also invited to give feedback.
According to the Common App blog,
“Undocumented students, in particular, face unique and often devastating obstacles to postsecondary education. The logistical challenges of the application and enrollment process often lead to feelings of anxiety and isolation that keep undocumented students from persisting in college, if they are admitted at all. Common App data suggest that application questions about students’ citizenship status, geography, and family background suppress college-going aspiration among undocumented students.”
The Common App essay prompts for 2021-2022 similar to last year’s prompt, but there are two notable changes. First, the prompt on problem solving, which was not very popular, will be retired. In its place, a new prompt about gratitude and kindness will be introduced.
Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
The new Common App prompt was created by a team of students, psychologists, and counselors, and was motivated by compelling research that shows that writing about gratitude and kindness can have a positive impact on people's lives. Around 72 percent of 13 to 19 years old say they have struggled with their mental health since the onset of COVID-19 in Spring 2020.
According to Common App President and CEO, Jenny Rickard, the committee made a conscious choice to include a new prompt about gratitude knowing the topic could inspire joy for both applicants and essay readers.
“During these difficult times, it will be encouraging for students and those reviewing these essay responses to be reminded of the joy and hope that generosity and gratitude can foster,” says Sacha Thieme, Assistant Vice Provost & Executive Director of Admissions, Indiana University
For the second year, students will have the option to explain how COVID-19 or a natural disaster impacted their experience.
Students are provide a place to share if these events resulted in:
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