As I have worked with a number of high school seniors this year, it has become more and more evident that the impact of the Common Application is more complex than I first thought. No doubt, it is a great tool for high school seniors who gain the efficiency of filling out the myriad of information needed for college admission decisions only once. The site also provides students a great number of added benefits through its database functions of keeping up with their applications and status. Along with Naviance, there is a tremendous “paperless” revolution going on within this vast industry. Yet, the ease of application provided by the Common Application software has multiplied college applications exponentially. This has functionally changed the calculus of the admissions industry. Colleges are now faced with ever-growing virtual stacks of applications and find the man-power needs of processing and considering the merits of these applications quite problematic. I would not want to be in college admissions these days. They face an avalanche of applications. How do they sort and carefully consider this pile? Unfortunately, I believe that the only response can be to use admissions testing more extensively to make initial and secondary cuts in applications. This reality magnifies the significance of the ACT and SAT. Both of these exams are flawed indicators of success and contributions to a potential college. They are but one measure….flawed but used. I see ACT and SAT preparation growing even more relevant for students who are not as inclined to perform well on these platforms. Fortunately, there are a number of software sources available at no charge to help with this reality. Two sites that are free are http://www.number2.com and http://www.majortests.com, both effective tools to improve overall performance on these tests.
The Common Application: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly