A Salute to The Common Application

The Common Application has removed an obstacle in the admissions process for students applying to college who have faced disciplinary action by their high schools (photo credit: Namkota).

Over the years, we’ve criticized The Common Application plenty. From website glitches to their crafting of poorly worded questions, let’s just say that we’ve been a thorn in the side of this organization for many years. It should be said, however, that Common App. often does address our criticisms — sometimes not always immediately but over time. They typically try to do right by college applicants. And, this week, they’ve done right by students using their platform to apply to the colleges of their dreams. So what exactly has Common App. done that earns our praise?

Common App. Eliminates School Disciplinary Question

As Emma Steele writes on Common App.’s website under the banner “Common App Removes School Discipline Question from College Application,” “Common App, whose application for admission is used by over 900 colleges and universities, as well as three million applicants, teachers, and counselors, announced today that it will no longer require applicants to report whether they’ve been cited for a disciplinary violation at school on the common portion of the application. ‘We want our application to allow students to highlight their full potential. Requiring students to disclose disciplinary actions has a clear and profound adverse impact. Removing this question is the first step in a longer process to make college admissions more equitable. This is about taking a stand against practices that suppress college-going aspiration and overshadow potential.’ said Jenny Rickard, President & CEO, Common App. “

This Change to the Common App. Was Long Overdue

Common App.’s disciplinary question has long been the focus of criticism. And, yes, we’ve fired many arrows at Common App. over the years for posing such a question to applicants since the question has been found to disproportionately adversely impact Black applicants. As it turns out, according to a recent study, “Black applicants reported disciplinary records at more than twice the rate of their white peers. The research also indicates that students who disclose school disciplinary records are less likely to submit their applications to any college.” This question has — for too long — hurt students applying to highly selective colleges and/or dissuaded students from applying in the first place. Good riddance to this prompt. Way to go, Common App., for making this long overdue change that is in the spirit of equity. We salute you!

 
 

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