Joining the 600-plus universities in the U.S. already using it, University of Wisconsin plans to switch to the Common Application next fall in hopes to make UW nationally recognizable and increase diversity among UW students.
The Common Application includes a variety of different schools from across the country, from large public institutions to small private institutions.
Among these institutions include Big Ten schools University of Michigan, Ohio State University, Northwestern University and Purdue University, Steve Hahn, vice provost for Enrollment Management, said.
“We believe that the company of schools that this puts us in is a good representation of our peers and our aspirational peers as well throughout the country,” Hahn said.
The switch to the Common Application, Hahn said, will also increase the diversity of student applications to UW, not only socioeconomically, but geographically as well.
While UW may be enthusiastic about the switch, Associated Students of Madison wasn’t exactly “thrilled” about UW’s plan to adopt the Common Application, ASM Vice Chair Kyla Kaplan said.
When the decision to switch to the Common Application was presented to ASM, the group did not have much opportunity for input regarding the change, Kaplan said.
Though not adamantly opposed to the switch, Kaplan said because ASM did not have knowledge about the change prior to the announcement, they did not voice their concern about the Common Application.
“It separates [UW] more from the system that we are supposed to be a part of, and it could initially have the affect of making students applying to other UW schools not apply to Madison because it’s a different application,” Kaplan said.
While UW’s switch to the Common Application aligns with other large state institutions’ application processes, there’s a potential concern that the application will help more out of state students than instate students, Kaplan said.
Though UW will be among “good company” by joining the long list of universities that use the Common Application, Hahn insisted the switch will fulfill UW’s primary mission to serve Wisconsin students.
“We [UW] believe that definitely as the flagship institution of the state [we] have a role to play in obviously serving Wisconsin students,” Hahn said. “We believe that moving to the Common Application will not jeopardize that role, and may in fact enhance it.”
Numbers from the Common Application show many Wisconsin residents already use the program. Hahn said in 2013 more than 5,000 applicants with a home address in Wisconsin used the Common Application. Those 5,000 residents submitted more than 18,000 different college applications.
Hahn also said last year’s numbers showed 86 percent of the applicants to UW only applied to UW, while 14 percent applied to UW and other UW System schools, demonstrating the little overlap there already is between applications to Wisconsin schools.
Still, as UW prepares for the increased number of applicants they except to receive with UW’s national recognition on the Common Application, UW is also thinking of adding a link on their application to other UW schools, Hahn said. This way, applicants interested in UW may also view other UW System schools if they wish to apply, he said.
“We take seriously our primary role to serve Wisconsin residents and to be a good partner in the [UW] System, and we believe we can do that and move to the Common App at the same time,” Hahn said.