The Common Application has grown exponentially since it launched in 1975 with 15 member institutions!  414 colleges now accept the Common App, and this year, for the first time, international colleges have signed on.  Newest members include Columbia University, the University of Michigan and the American University of Rome.  For the 2010-2011 application cycle, the number of applicants increased 18% to 532,297 and the number of applications submitted grew 23% to 2,266,200.

The increased use of online applications certainly makes it easier for students to process multiple applications efficiently and quickly.  But on the flip side, the added numbers of peer applications increases the competition.  In addition, some colleges waive the application fee, or simplify or even eliminate their essays, to further encourage greater numbers of applications – in order to cast a wide net and increase the pool of candidates for consideration; and possibly to boost their admissions statistics, appear more selective, and increase their rankings.

The Common App has introduced an extremely useful feature, of an interactive requirements grid in which college’s application requirements and deadlines are now searchable.  This means that application requirements, such as testing, will be updated in real time, and students can find out which colleges are still accepting applications.

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