Competition for the Common App

The iconic and beloved Common Application has saved thousands of students millions of precious hours with pen and paper. However as we know, the higher quality the product, the more it invites the fiercest competition. True to form, the heretofore leader-by-default of the college application world, The Common Application, now has some fierce competition nipping at its hallowed heels. But should we be surprised? In the big business of college admissions, change is the only constant. At a time when ACT has overtaken SAT as the most common test in America, when ACT is becoming ACT Online, when individual state standards exams are being replaced by PARCC and Smarter Balanced, and when the SAT is due to undergo major changes, was there really any question that the Common Application would come up on the radar screen as a prime target for competitive attack?

Exacerbating the situation was a severe, though quickly rectified, technological glitch experienced by the Common Application last fall that prevented thousands of students from submitting their applications in time for Early Decision. Then, as now, the largely unknown Universal College Application was only too happy to step in and offer its product as an alternative.

Flash forward to today—the Universal College Application seems poised to pounce on its prey by winning over the hearts and minds of America’s top colleges. While it currently services roughly 10% the number of colleges as its formidable foe, its presentation to admissions officials seems to have been impressive enough to woo some of the biggest name colleges.

Among them:

  • Princeton
  • Harvard
  • Duke
  • Johns Hopkins
  • Cornell
  • RPI
  • Tufts

All told, nearly 50 colleges now accept the Universal College Application—an impressive start for the “little application that could.”

So what does this mean for you? For now, it just means that you may have another choice when it comes to standardized applications. As for the future of college admissions, we’ll just have to keep watching and waiting for the next newest, trendiest service to come along.