Why don’t some schools use the Common Application?

You’ve been working hard throughout high school to earn good grades and excel in your extracurriculars, and now it’s finally time to start applying to your dream school. You make a Common Application account and start adding schools to your list, but wait — some of your top choices aren’t there!

Don’t panic.

While the Common App has 1000+ member schools, there are still some notable institutions that require students to apply using other methods. Read on to learn more!

Why don’t some schools use the Common Application?

Colleges and the Common App

Why use the Common App?

First things first: for most students, the Common App is a critical part of the college application process. To get a more general overview of what it is and how it works, review our comprehensive guide.

The Common Application has become somewhat of a staple of the college admissions process. As the name suggests, it provides a single point of access for applications to multiple schools, saving students from repeating the process of filling out the same basic application info over and over again for each school on their college list. When a college doesn’t appear on the Common App, this can be frustrating. But there are reasons behind this choice!

Why do some colleges not use the Common App?

There are several reasons why a school might not participate in the Common Application:

  • For some institutions, it may be simply because they have been using the same application system for many years and it might be too costly or difficult to change.
  • For other schools, such as MIT, which received over 33,000 applications in 2022, having an extra barrier to applying may help keep their application numbers manageable.
  • Some schools want extra assurance that applicants are genuinely interested in their university and are seriously considering attending if admitted. The added work of filling out an individual application encourages only the most enthusiastic students to apply.
  • Schools with a unique or specific focus (e.g., military- or religiously-affiliated schools) sometimes choose independent applications to best serve their unique applicant pools.

The Common App isn’t the only option

While the Common Application is probably the most popular choice for most students applying to college these days, there are other options to explore if you’d prefer:

  • The Coalition Application is a newer offering that is similar to the Common Application but offers different resources for applicants that promote college access and affordability.
  • If you’re applying to schools in the United Kingdom, you’ll need to fill out the UCAS.
  • Some public universities (even those on Common App) still have their own separate application portals. This could be a good option if you’re only applying to one university.

Colleges not on the Common App and how to apply to them

List of schools not on the Common App

Some notable schools not on the Common App include:

Recent additions to the Common App

These schools used to require a standalone application, but now offer a Common App option:

  • University of Washington
  • University of Texas

How to apply to schools not on the Common App?

Once you’ve finalized your college list and started putting together your applications, start by searching for each school on your list in the Common App. For the schools that don’t show up, they should have specific application instructions on the admissions section of their website. Be sure to follow any directions closely and pay close attention to submission deadlines as they may differ from the deadlines of some Common App schools.

My colleagues have also shared some great advice on our blog for navigating these unique applications! Read more about the MIT application here, and here you can review our guidelines for the University of California application.

How do I keep track of all this?

While the Common Application has gone a long way towards simplifying the college admissions process, it can still be quite challenging to stay on top of your deadlines when you have a lengthy college list. And when your top choice school isn’t on the Common Application at all, it can feel like yet another completely unfamiliar process to navigate. If you need guidance on any aspect of the admissions process, contact Solomon Admissions Consulting today and connect with a college application consultant who can help!

All of our blog posts are written by Former College Admission Officers who serve as members of our admission consultant team.

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