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What’s New with the Common Application for 2018-2019

“We’re live!” Exciting words for college applicants from the Common App website, announcing to students that the updated resource is now available online. As a high school student, you’re familiar with the Common Application but are you aware of the 2018-2019 changes that were effective in August?  

Check out the major changes and then read the opinion of a professional editor who works with high school students applying to college to learn how the changes will affect you and maybe even work to your benefit.

Who started the Common App?

‘The Common Application Experiment’ was created forty years ago by a group of 15 universities. They thought a student should be able to fill out one application to apply to all their schools. That idea has grown exponentially with 1 million students now using the free Common App website to file over 4 million college applications with 800 universities in the US and 20 other countries.*

Good news:  A centralized application service saves you time in the college application process.  The explosive growth in the number of students using the Common App fueled the increase in the number of colleges and universities that participate in the program. This streamlines your application process!

Changes to the Common App for the 2018-2019 cycle

Improved security and privacy protection.

Good news: No need to worry about your social security number or details of your application being hacked. There is also increased spam and virus flooding protection.

The ‘Courses and Grades’ section allows students to self-report transcript information to more schools.

Good news: This section has been expanded from six schools to twenty schools this year who are requesting that you self-report your courses and grades. Check the link above to see if the schools you are applying to will accept self-reported information, which is an advantage in getting information to important universities quickly.  Avoid backlogs for transcript requests in your high school’s guidance office. Official transcripts can be sent later.

An enhanced Virtual Counselor helps you explore the colleges and universities that best meet your needs and goals.  

The website is available 24/7/365 and response time to questions is almost always less than an hour.

Frequent questions are:  

  1. How should I start searching for colleges?
  2. What’s your best advice for writing my personal essay?
  3. What’s your recommendation for First Gen students who feel unsure about the college application process?

Good news: The Common App website has many online videos and webinars with professional advice on applying to college.  Access is always available and response time is quick. The questions that the website addresses are of universal interest to high school students and their parents.

What’s new for transfer students?

Transfer students make up nearly 40% of college applicants annually, including those moving, choosing to change schools for curricular reasons, or transferring from a two-year to a four-year school. Transfer students are a diverse group of adult learners, full-time employees, low-income students, students who commute to school, and working parents. These “post-traditional” students often face challenges during the college application process that make it difficult for them to access the full range of higher education options available to them.

Last year, the Common App met with a group representing 2-year and 4-year colleges, student advocacy groups, and education policy experts to identify key barriers to access for post-traditional students. Their findings led to the development of a redesigned Common App for Transfer Students which recognizes the unique circumstances of today’s transfer and adult student populations.

Good news: Transfer students are being recognized as a major segment of college applications and are being better helped in the process by simplifying the application procedure.

En Español

More Common App services will be offered in Spanish this year to support the diverse student population.This includes a tool to research courses taught wholly or partially in Spanish.

The Essay Prompts will be the same in 2018-2019

The 2018-2019 essay prompts will remain the same as 2017-2018. This will allow educators, administrators, students, and parents time to offer evaluations of the current seven prompts.  

It’s interesting that nearly half of all students applying through the Common App last year chose to answer the following essay question:

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.

Good news:  This prompt’s still on the list of choices!  Get ready to write and take advantage of all the changes and ‘Good News’ features of the new Common App.

*Information from the Common Application website.

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