Common App to update gender identity questions on college application
Arlington, VA- As a part of an ongoing effort to revolutionize and create a more equitable admission process, Common App today announced a series of forthcoming changes to questions on its application. Beginning in the 2022-2023 admissions cycle, and continuing into the 2023-2024 cycle, the questions related to gender and fee waivers will be revised to better reflect the more than one million students who use Common App each year.
For the 2022-2023 application season, Common App will add “Mx.” and “other” options for counselor, parent, recommender, teacher, and advisor prefix options, as well as add “legal” to the first/given name question label.
Beginning in the 2023-2024 application season, Common App will add ‘X’ or ‘another legal sex’ as an option in addition to ‘female’ and ‘male,’ similar to the addition of ‘X’ as a legal sex indicator on U.S. passports. This change follows last year’s addition of a question to provide applicants with the option to share their preferred first name and an option for students to add their pronoun set, among other changes. In addition, 24 states already allow for a third option for legal sex markers on official government documents.
"These shifts represent the next step in an ongoing effort to create an equitable, just, and inclusive college admission process for all students -- no matter how they identify," said Jenny Rickard, president and chief executive officer of Common App. "In order to fulfill the promise of higher education as a pathway to economic opportunity, it's incumbent upon colleges, universities, and organizations at every step of the admission experience to remove barriers that may prevent students from pursuing the next step in their educational journey.”
"In order to fulfill the promise of higher education as a pathway to economic opportunity, it's incumbent upon colleges, universities, and organizations at every step of the admission experience to remove barriers that may prevent students from pursuing the next step in their educational journey.”
“These changes are a welcome addition to the college application process. As institutions continue working toward more inclusive practices, seeing the Common Application ensure that they are taking a close look at their practices is admirable. It is also comforting to know that small changes of this nature will also allow students to feel comfort in knowing that they can showcase their true selves throughout this process, no matter what aspect of the application they are completing,” said Camille A. Bouknight, Director of Admission at Emerson College.
“We are grateful for the Common App’s ongoing commitment to removing barriers and promoting inclusion in the college application process. These newly announced changes will be well-received, not only by our applicants, but also by our admission committees. We are optimistic that the changes will lead more folks to realize that there is a place for them in higher education and that their identities are acknowledged and respected,“ said Timothy Brunold, Dean of Admission at the University of Southern California.
"Campus Pride applauds the Common App in its evolution to be more equitable and inclusive in regards to the gender identity questions. These changes represent a holistic, intersectional approach to all students and allows campuses to take responsibility for trans and nonbinary students. At a time when trans youth are being targeted across the country in the most inhumane ways, the Common App announcement sends a clear message that trans people deserve recognition, respect - and most importantly, their inclusion and safety matters. Campus Pride stands in partnership with the Common App and its members to wholeheartedly help in supporting these efforts," said Shane Windmeyer, CEO & Executive Director of Campus Pride.
For the 2022-2023 application season, Common App will also expand the fee waiver question label to include the list of eligibility criteria, so students have the full understanding of who is eligible. Common App will also simplify the process by providing a yes/no option instead of having to select multiple criteria. These moves are rooted in Common App research identifying nearly 39,000 first-year applicants who were likely eligible for the Common App fee waiver, but did not request one. Another 55,000 likely-qualified students may have abandoned an application all together because of fee-related fears.
These changes are all part of Common App’s Evolving the Application initiative, an ongoing effort to regularly examine and revise parts of the common portion of the application that may act as barriers to students.