Monday, December 04, 2006

The Truth about the common application

First, a message from Ted O'Neill, the Dean of Admissions:

The University's Office of College Admissions has just submitted an application to be accepted as a member of the Common Application group. You will find attached a statement which explains something of the reasons we have decided to add the Common application as an option for applicants to the College. Let me add a word from those of us who recruit the students and who read the applications. We have come to love our Uncommon, so named seven or so years ago, but at heart the application we devised some 24 years ago when we began to ask "uncommon" questions. But, even as we loved the document, and patted ourselves on the back for being different and clever, we realized that there was a chance that some students would be confused or intimidated by our use of an instument that looked different and difficult. And, we always feared the the students who might turn away from the Uncommon might be, disproportionately, students who were the ones most likely to be least comfortable with competitive college admissions--e.g., those without counsel, the first-generation applicants, and the low-income students. Now, as other universities have followed Harvard's lead and have, one by one, decided to add the Common Application or to replace their own application entirely with the Common, we find that we are almost alone (Georgetown seems to be the other holdout) in requiring a separate and different application. So, we have decided to keep the Uncommon as an option for those students who like the look and feel of it, and who appreciate the hard work that has gone into making our on-line application so useful and friendly.In addition, we hope to add the Common Application as an option. The students who use the Common will have to fill out a substantial supplement, which means they will have to answer our interesting questions. Maybe more applications will be forthcoming as a result of this change. We hope so, because we devote a lot of our energy every year to persuading more students to apply to Chicago. More students should apply to Chicago--we know that too many students who would love this college don't apply, and our mission is to spread the good word to any student who wants this kind of education, which is only offered here. Who wants to tamper with a great thing? Well, sometime the time comes to try something new in the interests of furthering the values we hold dear. If some new, worthy, Chicago-type kids are welcomed by the Common Application into the fold, this change will be a very good thing. And, in our welcome to them, we are determined to let them know, in no uncertain terms, that whether they choose to use the Uncommon or the Common application, they are filing a distictive application to a distinctive University.

And now, a message from Michael Behnke, our Vice President for Enrollment, and John Boyer, the Dean of the College and the guy who edits our history books:

The current application for admission to the College of the University of Chicago consists of two parts. “Form One” collects routine information such as name, address, school information and an activity list. The “Essays” part contains the uncommon essays that are the distinctive part of the application.

The University has applied to be a member of the Common Application. This will give students the option of submitting the Common Application instead of Form One of the University’s application, which asks for similar routine information. The uncommon essay section of the University’s application will remain the same and will continue to be required of all applicants.

This additional option will be available to students in the 2008-2009 or 2009-2010 application cycles depending on when systems can be modified.

This option to use the Common Application will allow students to submit standard information in a standard format, while still preserving the distinctiveness and important information contained in our uncommon essays.