Dean of Admissions criticizes the Common App

Remember those high school days when you cursed Georgetown for not using the Common Application, instead forcing you plow through a six-page, two-part application?

Well, take comfort in the fact that future student will have to do the same. Georgetown’s single-use application isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The Common App, which began in 1998 and is now used by 414 schools, creates an “admissions bubble” that unnecessarily swells applicant pools, according to Dean of Admissions Charles Deacon.

“We don’t have the Common App because we think that each person is unique and each school is unique,” Deacon told the Washington Post. “We don’t want people to apply for the wrong reasons.”

Georgetown has reaped the benefits of Deacon’s 38 years heading the Admissions department. When he came to Georgetown, the University accepted more than half of its applicants. After building an alumni network that mirrors the recruitment techniques of the Ivy League, however, Deacon helped transform Georgetown into a competitive, more selective college.

The strategy worked; over the last decade, applications to the University have risen 20 percent, while only accepting 18 percent of applicants.

Although some of the nation’s top colleges now accept the Common App—including the whole of the Ivy League—Deacon plans to hold steady with current admissions standards. A manageable-sized applicant pool, he told the Post, still allows the University to build academically gifted classes with diverse backgrounds.

We can’t fault Deacon for sticking with a policy that works. (And, thankfully, it’s not as if we’ll be filling out a Common App anytime soon either.)

Photo: Georgetown Scholarship Program

8 Comments on “Dean of Admissions criticizes the Common App

  1. That Georgetown doesn’t use the common act is proof that the University doesn’t just do stuff for the rankings. The easiest way to make the university appear more selective in a single stroke would be to radically increase the size of the applicant pool by taking the common app. That Georgetown doesn’t is a sign that it cares more about recruiting students who are motivated and passionate about coming here than it does about what USNWR says.

  2. I didn’t feel that the Georgetown application was too difficult or cumbersome to fill out thoughtfully. My opinion obviously, but I’m guessing anyone who does probably doesn’t really want to go to Georgetown.

  3. If you aren’t willing to do a separate application to get here, you don’t deserve to be here.

  4. The common App has become pointless because most schools make you write “supplemental” essays that are just as long as the regular stuff.

  5. @Doug – I’ve always thought Georgetown did not care about the size of their applicant pool.

    Maybe this has changed in the last 5 years, but when I took the tour of Georgetown they pretty much tell you have no shot at getting in. Most of the info session was about how selective they are — I distinctly remember a chart that showed acceptance percentage as a function of class rank, and it only showed 1-3.

    I left the tour convinced I would never get in. Fortunately I was wrong, but I imagine that feeling doesn’t do much to increase the applicant pool.

  6. Even with a separate application, today’s students still have it easier. As recently as my class (class of 09)’s applications, we couldn’t even apply online. You could download it as a PDF online, and I think you could probably fill in the blanks on the computer, but you had to mail it in via USPS. I had always figured having to physically handle it, sign it with an actual pen, etc, made people take it more seriously, so I’m not surprised that making you fill Gtown’s out separately is an actual strategy. I like it. And yeah, as someone else already mentioned, with all the supplements and bonus essays that most schools have, all the common app is good for is reducing typos (checking to make sure you’ve spelled something correctly in one place instead of at all the common app schools separately is a huge time-saver)

  7. Perhaps I’m at the point when the rosy glow of my undergraduate years is starting to fade, but part of me thinks there is a Luddite or two (or twenty) at Georgetown who will resist any move to change or innovate the admission process.

    Moving to the Common App would make life easier for and be in the best interest of applicants. Staying on the current app is in the best interest of the institution. It requires no change and no investment.

  8. Pingback: The LOLumn, #6: The Common App?! | The Red Hot Read

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