Change to Criminal History Question for 2019-20 Application Year
On August 1, 2019, the collection of criminal history information will be removed from the “common” portion of the Common App as well as the School Report. However, The Common Application's member institutions will continue to be able to collect criminal history information on their individual member screens if they so choose. The student disciplinary history question will remain on the “common” portion of the application.
The 2019-2020 Common App will still include the introductory text and FAQs to help students know that their answers will be considered carefully as a part of their application and do not preclude them from being admitted. Member colleges and universities will also continue to have the option of suppressing applicants' responses to criminal history (this means that institutions may prevent these answers from appearing on the application PDF). Students can find out about a college's approach to the criminal history and school discipline questions through the Common App's "search results details" screen for each school.
What led to this decision?
As a non-profit membership organization that serves more than 800 diverse colleges and universities across 20 countries, The Common Application consulted with its membership many times on this topic over the past several years. During that time, institutional policies and practices around criminal history have become less “common,” based on continually evolving legislation at the local, state, federal, and international levels, as well as increasingly varied policies and practices among Common App member institutions.
The change to the criminal history question was made to provide members with the greatest flexibility to determine how best to comply with their local requirements and institutional policies. There is greater commonality in the practices and use of school disciplinary history by Common App members. For that reason, the school disciplinary history question will remain on the “common” part of the 2019-2020 application at this time. As with all questions on the application, The Common App will continue to evaluate what, if any, adjustments will be necessary to that question in the future.
The Common Application is committed to advancing access, equity, and integrity in the college admission process and always serving the needs of members, students, and counselors. We understand the significance of these issues and will continue to seek the valuable feedback of members, counselors, and students.