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Common Application Expected to Expand With New Policy

Colleges that do not require essays or teacher recommendations will be allowed to join the Common Application because of a recent change in policy by the association.

College App officials, who announced the membership criteria change last week, said the decision was a move to increase access to the admissions process. It is expected to ultimately lead to more colleges allowing students to apply using the popular standardized electronic admissions form.

Since its founding in 1975, Common App member colleges had to require an untimed writing sample of at least 250 words and at least one recommendation from a school-based counselor or academic teacher.

The Common App's board of directors revised the group's mission statement, dropping a reference to colleges having to use a "holistic selection process." It now reads: "The Common Application is a not-for-profit membership organization committed to the pursuit of access, equity, and integrity in the college-admission process." This new language leaves it up to each individual college or university to determine how best to evaluate the capabilities and potential contributions of each applicant, the Common App notes.

The change will be effective with the 2015-2016 application cycle.

The College App now has 549 member colleges. Last year, 817,000 students submitted 3.45 million applications through the online Common App portal.

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