Following on the heels of February's announcement that the University of Chicago would be joining the Universal College Application (UCA), the main and only rival to the much larger Common Application (CA), today comes news that five more colleges have signed up to offer the UCA as a way for prospective undergraduate applicants to apply to their institutions. Among the new UCA members are Brandeis University, Colgate University, University of Rochester, The College of Mount Saint Vincent, and Wilson College.
While previous announcements of new UCA members have alluded to the myriad problems encountered by students, high schools, and colleges that used the Common Application last year, this latest announcement included statements that indicate that it's no longer politically incorrect to speak directly about the glaring problems encountered by nearly all who used the Common App late last summer and early last fall.
“Brandeis has a historical commitment to access, and we are very concerned that the practices of the Common Application are poorly aligned with that outlook” said Andrew Flagel, Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment at Brandeis University. “We are very pleased to add the option of applying to Brandeis through the UCA to ensure that we have diverse and robust options for students to apply.”
The Common App, which recently announced the departure of its executive director after a disastrous roll-out of its much touted but poorly delivered "CA4" version last August has clearly not regained the confidence of admissions and enrollment managers at the above-mentioned institutions.
“Running a large and careful reading operation, all I want to know is that the mechanics can 'disappear' behind a smooth, coherent process so that everyone--students and readers alike--can focus on the actual fit,” said Jonathan Burdick, Vice Provost and Dean of College Admissions at University of Rochester. “Knowing applicants will have the option to use the Universal College Application next year is already helping me sleep better!”
That message was reinforced by Mary Ann Naso, Vice President for Enrollment at Wilson College. “The Universal College Application form itself and the processes that students use to complete the application process are not complicated and are very user-friendly. Those features stood out in our decision to make the Universal College Application available to students interested in Wilson College. We are extremely pleased to be a new member!”
With a growing number of highly selective institutions adopting the UCA as an alternative to the CA, the undergraduate admissions landscape is approaching a possible tipping point. Should even a handful of additional selective colleges also break from exclusivity agreements with the the Common App or simply offer the UCA as an alternative to the Common App, the UCA has the potential to transition in the eyes of the folk a the Common App from a pesky irritant to a force with which to be reckoned.
Craig Meister is president of Tactical College Consulting, a global college admissions consultancy that specializes in giving students the tools they need to find and get into their best-fit college. Like it on Facebook today.