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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Common Application

Let me put this out there right off the bat: I love the Common Application.

I came to UVa knowing there was a plan to move to a new Student Information System (central system where all student records are kept) and had a feeling we could go paperless and possibly move to the Common App at the same time. I was pretty adamant that the band-aid be ripped off all at once, meaning all three of these changes should be done concurrently. It would be hard, but at least the transition wouldn't be prolonged over many years. After a few years of meticulous planning by a fantastic team, we were live with all three - the new SIS, the paperless system, and the Common App.

During all of this, we worked with people from all sorts of outside organizations and the Common App group was an absolute dream. That contributed to my affinity for the new app. What's more, I remember friends applying to Common App schools back when I was in high school and they simply made copies of forms to send off while I sat in front of a typewriter (this is a while back) trying to fit my information into form after form because none of my schools were Common App schools (just checked and all but one are members today).

Anyway, there is a reason we are Common App exclusive these days. The Common App is a good vehicle and it has simplified the process immensely. There are bound to be hiccups with any online app, but with the Common App, there is a fantastic team waiting to help you and solve any problems you have.

Oddly, at the NACAC conference last week, another online app was marketing itself by calling the Common App "elitist" because only schools that are holistic in their admission process (meaning schools that consider essays and recommendations instead of just objective statistics) can use it. I realize that there are schools out there that have a formula for admission and that works for them, but I don't think it's fair to call us elitist if we want to read your words and hear about who you are beyond your grades and testing.