Common App Removes School Discipline Question from College Application
Common App, used by 1.1 million students each year, announces sweeping changes designed to boost representation of Black applicants; data shows Black students report disciplinary actions at more than twice the rate of white peers
ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 30, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Common App, whose application for admission is used by over 900 colleges and universities, as well as three million applicants, teachers, and counselors, announced today that it will no longer require applicants to report whether they've been cited for a disciplinary violation at school on the common portion of the application.
"We want our application to allow students to highlight their full potential. Requiring students to disclose disciplinary actions has a clear and profound adverse impact. Removing this question is the first step in a longer process to make college admissions more equitable," said Jenny Rickard, president and chief executive officer of Common App. "This is about taking a stand against practices that suppress college-going aspiration and overshadow potential."
The decision draws on recent Common App research finding that Black applicants reported disciplinary records at more than twice the rate of their white peers. The research also indicates that students who disclose school disciplinary records are less likely to submit their applications to any college. For more than a decade, research has consistently demonstrated that Black and low-income students are disciplined more frequently than white students, even for the same infractions, and that students who are disciplined during high school are far less likely to go to college than students with no disciplinary record.
"The school discipline box has kept many talented students of all races from even applying to college because they didn't think they would get in," said Freeman Hrabowski, President, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). "The data are very clear. It's time for colleges to test previous assumptions about the admissions process and eliminate requirements where any perceived benefit is so far outweighed by the damage."
During the 2019-2020 school year, more than 1.1 million prospective students used the Common App to submit over 5.5 million college applications. Although the Common App's member institutions can choose to ask about disciplinary records on the customized portions of their applications, this change will eliminate a significant barrier to higher education for thousands of students.
This announcement comes one year after the Common App removed a question about applicants' criminal history from its standard application. Since 2019, the Common App has also partnered with Reach Higher, a college access initiative started by former First Lady Michelle Obama, to fuel equity and access within and beyond the college admissions process.
About Common App
Common App is a not-for-profit member organization committed to the pursuit of access, equity, and integrity in the college admissions process. Each year, more than one million students, one-third of whom are first-generation, apply to college through the Common App's online application. In January 2019, the Common App united with Reach Higher, the college access and success campaign started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time at the White House.
By joining forces, Common App and Reach Higher accelerated progress toward our joint goal of supporting all students, especially low-income and first-generation students, in achieving their higher education dreams. Our access and equity work for students include a college advising texting campaign with AdmitHub and College Advising Corps, scholarships and community college initiatives, Dear Class of 2020 Fund, and more.
Founded in 1975, Common App serves over 900 member colleges and universities worldwide. To learn more, visit commonapp.org, and follow @CommonApp and #CommonApp on social media.