- The Common Application, the online portal enabling students to seek admission to its 1,000-plus member colleges, saw a sharp rise in the number of first-year underrepresented minority applicants over nearly a decade, according to newly released data.
- The number of underrepresented minority applicants grew by 131% in the last eight or so years, from about 146,200 in the 2013-14 academic year to nearly 338,000 in 2021-22. The Common App considers underrepresented minority applicants to be Black, Latino, Native American or Alaska Native, and Pacific Islander.
- The growth in minority applicants outpaced an increase in the total number of applicants. Total applicants rose by 72% in the same time frame, from more than 719,000 students to more than 1.2 million.
The Common App has attempted to get more students using the platform and to streamline the application process. In part, it's done so by trying to add more colleges to its ranks. In 2014, for instance, it allowed colleges that do not practice holistic admissions — those that only examine grades and test scores — to join its ranks.
In a report released Tuesday, the Common App noted the largest increase in overall applicants — and underrepresented ones — came from states whose public flagship institutions have joined since 2013-14.
Flagship universities joined the Common App in nine out of the 10 states with the fastest growing rates of underrepresented minority applicants. And of the 10 states where the increases were slowest, only two flagship institutions had joined.
“This finding suggests that expanding and diversifying the Common App membership may have strengthened efforts to ensure a more equitable application process for a diverse population of college-aspiring students,” the report said.
The Common App added public flagship institutions from 28 states since the 2012-13 school year.
It found that the number of Black students using the Common App grew the most, an increase of 138% since 2013-14. That year, 58,600 Black students used the Common App, a number that rose to more than 139,500 in 2021-22.
The number of Latino applicants jumped 129% in that timeframe, from more than 84,500 to more than 193,850.
And the number of applicants who would be first-generation college students grew by 90% — from 220,045 applicants to more than 418,800.
Demographic shifts in high school graduates in the last decade do not account for the composition changes in the Common App’s applicant pool, the report said, citing separate analyses.
The organization said that the public flagships’ membership may be attracting more diverse applicants to the service and once there, students will be able to peruse the entire roster of Common App colleges.
“In addition to its efforts to reduce complexity and burden in the application process, and to pilot various interventions to eliminate barriers in the application process, Common App considers its membership expansion strategy to be central to its mission to expand access and equity in college admissions,” the report said.