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Common app vs. specific school app - pros and cons


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Is it better to apply through the common app or are there benefits to applying through the school specific applications? I know using the common app means one application for many schools (= less work???), but is that the main reason to apply through common app?

Also, we are able to make changes to the common app once submitted, correct?  Any downfall to doing that?

Thanks so much!

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17 minutes ago, mlktwins said:

Is it better to apply through the common app or are there benefits to applying through the school specific applications? I know using the common app means one application for many schools (= less work???), but is that the main reason to apply through common app?

Also, we are able to make changes to the common app once submitted, correct?  Any downfall to doing that?

Thanks so much!

I don't know the answer to your first question, but my older kids have always used the common app when they could and both got into all their schools even selective ones like Hamilton and Bucknell (except a waitlist at Macalister, but there wasn't a separate app option iir.)  So I don't think it matters.

You can make changes to the common app, but at some point the colleges download it (If I remember correctly, you can see they've done this.)  They may get notice you made changes, but I wouldn't count on them re-printing, I'd send letter letting them know the change.  My dd made blackbelt at Christmas the year she applied, and she could easily add that.

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I think the main point of the common app is to  streamline the process so you are not entering data over and over again. Most schools emphasis that there is no advantages either way but it has been proven that schools on the common app or coalition app gets more applications than if they are on their own except for schools like MIT. 
Yes you can make some changes but do be careful and read through things before submitting as I seem to recollect there are some things you can’t change, like if you click to submit a recommendation letter to a school etc.- can’t remember accurately but read through things before submitting. 

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One of the nice things about the Common/Coalition Apps is that your recommenders are not required to manage multiple letter submissions in multiple places. From their side, it's just one submission and done. We liked not making our letter writers work hard! 🙂 We did a ton of VA state schools, and they are perfectly fine with the Common/Coalition app. (I seem to recall Virginia Tech only taking the Coalition App maybe? It's been a while, but the Coalition App is pretty much the same thing as the Common App, so it's the same idea)

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My only comment on the common app is that, as a recommender, it has you do a lot of ranking - is this student in the top 1, 5, 10, 25, or 50% of students that you have had for various characteristics?  I hate it.  I've had around 300 students over the years, so if I'm being honest, only 3 students can be in the top 1%, while I may have 3 or more in a  year who could be successful at the school in question.  I could get the same questions on a school-specific application, but usually I don't.  My favorite was a well-regarded private school, where the rec asked 'Do you think that the studend would be sucessful in college?' and asked for a sentence or 2 supporting the answer.  I could do a lot more to recommend a student in that context than I could on the common app.  This may vary, depending on the recommenders - I have enough really good students that my top 25% are all highly capable, excellent students, but I doubt that's how competitive colleges interpret 'top 25%'.  

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My oldest used the common app. He was a 2016 high school grad so it has been that long. At that time it was so complicated for the recommenders. I felt so bad how much trouble they had with it. One was his counselor at the umbrella school so it really was her job to work through it but I still felt bad. She ended up having to call customer support for the common app to get it done. He had a de prof just abandon the recommendation and never do it because it was so buggy. We had one school keep insisting we hadn’t submitted it even though we had and we could see on our end that they had it. It wa s just a huge pain. I am sure they have changed it alot since then, that was just our experience like seven years ago.

The advantage was that ds was casting a wide net and many schools of mild interest to him were free with no extra essays on the common app so all he had to do to apply was check a box and send his scores. So that was an advantage for him and the schools he had just a passing interest in that the application was worth the cost of sending his test scores but not much more effort than that. 
 

Second two ds applied to schools that all had their own apps and they just did the individual apps. With the exception of our state flagship those were all very simple ones. Our state flagship is a pain whether you use common app or individual app. We’ve done it both ways with the same experience.

 

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When colleges sign on to use the Common App part of their contract is that they're not allowed to preference their own app over the Common App. So there can never be a school-based advantage to using the school's own app. There could be a potential student advantage (applying to a crazy number of schools or only doing one school and their own app is easier, or the school's app opens in July or something and the student wants to get it done) but there will never be a school preference for their app.

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When colleges join the Common App, they agree not to use method of application as a factor in admissions.

However, some colleges have rolling admissions that start before the August 1 opening of the Common App. So a student could apply using the college's application and potentially have an admission decision over the summer.

Some colleges base the timing for housing selection on when the student applies and deposits. So an earlier app could be beneficial.

Also, I've seen a discussion of schools with a very early Early Decision I that returns a decision before the deadline for most other Early Decision applications. If the student uses the college application for the early Early Decision, they can turn around and apply to another school through Common App using the Early Decision I option, thus having an additional bite at the ED apple. They aren't applying to multiple colleges in the same ED round, but to two schools in sequence if the first one doesn't admit the student. Wake Forest has come up in these discussions.

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So one advantage I see is if you aren't ready for common app to be finalized but want to apply early for rolling admissions and that school happens to have their application, it could allow you to apply and get that admissions early while you are still musing common app details. 

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3 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

So one advantage I see is if you aren't ready for common app to be finalized but want to apply early for rolling admissions and that school happens to have their application, it could allow you to apply and get that admissions early while you are still musing common app details. 

Good idea, and I’m only starting to understand common app and coalition app (not sure why there are 2 different apps). I need to start looking for rolling admissions. Btw you asked about RIT, I think Dd wants to apply. Does she not understand the weather in Rochester mid-winter? Coming from sunny California, it’s going to be a harsh awakening. 

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1 hour ago, crazyforlatin said:

Good idea, and I’m only starting to understand common app and coalition app (not sure why there are 2 different apps). I need to start looking for rolling admissions. Btw you asked about RIT, I think Dd wants to apply. Does she not understand the weather in Rochester mid-winter? Coming from sunny California, it’s going to be a harsh awakening. 

Our flip-flop kids. 🤣🤣🤣🤣


 

I say let them build some character. I am attempting to send mine to Cleveland. 🤣😬

Edited by Roadrunner
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3 hours ago, crazyforlatin said:

Good idea, and I’m only starting to understand common app and coalition app (not sure why there are 2 different apps). I need to start looking for rolling admissions. Btw you asked about RIT, I think Dd wants to apply. Does she not understand the weather in Rochester mid-winter? Coming from sunny California, it’s going to be a harsh awakening. 

If I were you, I would really be focusing on Harvey Mudd. Common Data set shows they get a ton of male application and substantially fewer female ones. Your DD is a perfect kid for them. Perfect. 

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49 minutes ago, Roadrunner said:

If I were you, I would really be focusing on Harvey Mudd. Common Data set shows they get a ton of male application and substantially fewer female ones. Your DD is a perfect kid for them. Perfect. 

This is where I need to tell you that the private counselor we met said Dd has no chance because she didn’t do science research during the summers. I mentioned in a post a couple of months ago. Not just for Mudd but will be rejected at every UC except for Merced (Dd likes the campus but the heat is another topic) plus all the top 50. But I think this is the reality given the number of applications in 2021. So we’re aiming for acceptance rate of at least 50%. Dd will still apply to the 5Cs because it’s not too far and there’s always the tiniest of hope. I actually just found out about Occidental College in Orange. I kind of heard of it before but never looked into it (LACs are not usually mentioned around us). But NPC reflects equity consideration. President Obama went there for 2 years.

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45 minutes ago, crazyforlatin said:

This is where I need to tell you that the private counselor we met said Dd has no chance because she didn’t do science research during the summers. I mentioned in a post a couple of months ago. Not just for Mudd but will be rejected at every UC except for Merced (Dd likes the campus but the heat is another topic) plus all the top 50. But I think this is the reality given the number of applications in 2021. So we’re aiming for acceptance rate of at least 50%. Dd will still apply to the 5Cs because it’s not too far and there’s always the tiniest of hope. I actually just found out about Occidental College in Orange. I kind of heard of it before but never looked into it (LACs are not usually mentioned around us). But NPC reflects equity consideration. President Obama went there for 2 years.

Whaaaat? My friend’s DS walked into UCLA with just A’s and good scores, plus Mock Trial. Nobody I know has any research locally. Nobody. Our school sends in a ton of kids into UCB and UCLA and all sorts of other great places. I know a girl who went to Harvey Mudd from our PS. She was brilliant but no research. Your counselor is bunkers. 
I have another friend’s kid with straight A’s and yet only passed two out of 8 AP exams taken. She got into one of Pomona schools (the easier one), Reed, UCSD, UCSB, USD….. 

 

 I had  a friend who went to a Occidental and loved it! Their campus is on the hill. Make sure you visit. We went down with a bunch kids once and many didn’t like it. 
 

oh and we know several people (heads below your DD) who got full ride at U of Arizona. We are looking at their honors program for safety. I will take programs at Arizona over Merced any day.

Edited by Roadrunner
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