Common App removes School Discipline question for 2021-2022 application season
ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA (SEPTEMBER 30, 2020) -- 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 beginning in the 2021-2022 application season, 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. 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. 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.