Study finds generally positive impact of common application

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Common application – love it or hate it – is a strength in American higher education.

He has been criticized for (allegedly) encouraging colleges to sacrifice an original essay question for a question the Common Application would like, and for encouraging more and more students to apply to colleges where they have not. no intention to go.

But the common app was also praised for making the process easier for hundreds of thousands of students and for making it easier for colleges to attract applicants.

In the midst of the debate, relatively few studies have been done on what the Common App does. Does it receive more applications? Does it reduce the yield? Does he have more applicants with high SAT scores?

The National Bureau of Economic Research has just published an article examining these and other questions by Brian G. Knight of Brown University and Nathan M. Schiff of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics. Researchers are generally positive about the common app – except they say it can widen the gap between more and less selective colleges.

They reviewed the Common App from 1990 to 2015. (The Common App started in 1975 with just 15 colleges and has grown significantly since 2015.) By the end of the period investigated by researchers, the Common App numbered 700 members and received approximately four million applications from one million students. During the period studied, the Common App dropped its opposition to the creation of public colleges, but private members remain dominant in the group. And the common app has gained considerable strength in geographic diversity, with significant wins in California and Florida. (Since then, the Common App has won a competitor, the Coalition for College.)

The results:

  • Joining the Common Application results in a 12% increase in the number of applications, on average, compared to the years before a college joined. “Additionally, the effect increases over time, reaching around 25% after a decade in common application,” the report says.
  • There is also a 12% increase in admissions.
  • There is a 9 percent drop in yield (the percentage of successful applicants who register).
  • Overall, there is a small increase in registrations.
  • More international and out-of-state students apply after joining the common application.

Researchers found evidence of a slight increase in SAT scores after colleges joined the common application. But they caution that these are only partially (and small) statistically significant. If the increase in the SAT is true, the researchers write, it would suggest that the common app encourages the stratification of U.S. higher education.

Jenny Rickard, President and CEO of Common App, said it was important to remember that the organization now has 900 members. About 78 percent (610) of the members had an admission rate above 50 percent. Membership includes 51 institutions serving minorities and 12 historically black colleges. The Common App doesn’t judge its success by the percentage of students rejected by colleges, Rickard said.

She also referred to a Pew Research Center study on college admission rates in April.

“The expansion of the Common Application, which makes it easier for students to apply to multiple schools, does not appear to be the cause of the increase in application volume,” Pew said. The Common Application, as it is called, is accepted by nearly 800 colleges and universities in the United States and several dozen overseas. Of the 1,364 institutions in our sample, 729 accept the application. common with (or in some cases instead of) their own application forms; the other 635 use their own. Due to the volume of applications among these schools, there was almost no difference in the 2002-2017 growth between schools that used the Common App and those that did not. “

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