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A Major Revamp of the Common Application Previewed

on May 22, 2013 in Alerts, Application Process

COMMON-APPToday the Common Application hosted a webinar outlining their largest revamp ever, CA4. No preview version will be available in pdf format as CA4 is a much more dynamic application, and responding to one question can trigger a new set of questions. I have highlighted the major changes below. A downloadable counselor guide is available for those interested in learning more about the changes, and updates will be provided up until the release on August 1st. A recording of the program, “What’s New in CA4”, is available on the CA4 info page, along with the presentation slides.

A new Dashboard allows students to see the status of their entire application, highlighting what has been completed, and what remains to be completed.

There is an easier high school look-up tool.

Alternative versions of the application will not be allowed, a student may have only one version. Once it is submitted to one school and locked, it may be unlocked and editing will be allowed. There is only one live version at a time-the latest version.

There is a new section for reporting standardized test scores, allowing for more flexibility on what is self-reported. Scores may be edited once the application is submitted to one college and the application is unlocked, a helpful tool for score optional institutions.

A student may edit an essay on their application up to three times once their application has been submitted to one college. While no changes may be made to the essay already submitted to an institution, students may unlock their application and edit their essay up to three times for subsequent submittals.

The Activities Section allows students to enter up to 10 activities, with more drop-down menus to create a dynamic and interactive process. Students are allowed 150 characters to describe each activity.

The extracurricular paragraph has been removed, and it is anticipated that those institutions that found it valuable will request it in their supplemental writing section.

The essay prompts have changed, and the Topic of Your Choice is no longer an option. The maximum length has been increased to 650 words, and it is no longer downloadable but a cut/paste format. Students will be required to stay within the word limit. Formatting in the original version will be maintained once it is cut/pasted.

Each institution now has control over the specific questions asked regarding a student’s choice of programs and majors, a big improvement over the previous generic list. This section is dynamic, so students who select various program options may then be directed to a specific prompt for essay topics in the individual institution writing section. The writing supplement is institution dependent and within that, program specific. If a research paper or other institution specific item is requested, students will upload it in this individual institution section. No more repeated requests for information in the supplements!

Students will submit the main application and payment simultaneously, with the supplemental institution section submittal process a final step.

The Additional Information section will not allow uploaded documents, but students may cut/paste writing that falls within the 650-word limit.

If a student is allowed a fee waiver for one college, this will apply to all colleges to which a student applies.

Members now control what is uploaded, with a more individualized and program-specific approach to items requested.

The Athletic Supplement has been deleted entirely, making the athletic process more Division-specific as students will have to work directly with coaches and utilize online tools to highlight abilities.

The Arts Supplement will only be available for certain colleges and will be replaced by Slideroom.com. Individual institutions may host their own arts supplements on their own websites.

All-in-all, I feel that CA4 is a lot more dynamic and is a big improvement. Cyndy McDonald of MyCCA has prepared an excellent chart of changes to the Common Application.

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