Our research on hurdles within the application process includes student interviews, support ticket analysis, submission data analysis, member and counselor surveys, interviews and focus groups, and input from college access policy experts. We shared some of this research in a March 2023 brief. Based on our research and valuable feedback from member colleges, on August 1, 2023 we will implement changes to legal sex and student communication preferences.
Common App aims to create a safe and inclusive application process for all students. As announced last year, we will be adding “X or another legal sex” as a third option to the required legal sex question.
First-year and transfer application
- Add “X or another legal sex” as an option for the required legal sex question
Students expressed feeling uncertain about the use of the name and pronouns they provided within their college application.
“I think a lot of people don't understand the gravity of [being] misnamed. I think who can know this information and who can not [is important]. Anyone that Common App is going to be communicating with, that needs to be clarified.” — LGBTQ+ first-year student
Colleges and counselors have highlighted the same concerns related to student name communication throughout the admissions process. As we explore ways to remove challenges for students, our hope is that the following changes are a step in the right direction to provide students with more agency as it relates to how Common App can communicate important information with them using their name.
- Account creation
- Expand the account creation section to include a question asking if students would like to share a different first name that people call them
- Add a question asking for students to indicate their communication preferences with Common App
- Note: Common App will not share a student’s answer to this question with colleges, recommenders, or third parties
- Account settings
- Add “Which name should Common App use when addressing you in the app or via email?” question to communication preference section
- Selection will update the display name shown within the student’s Common App account and student only Common App communications
- Note: Common App communications to other parties (e.g. parents and recommenders) will continue to use the student's legal name
- Account creation/ My Profile
- Revise “First or Given Name” to “Legal First Name”
- Remove “Display Name”
- Biographic Information section
- Revise “Preferred Name” questions to “My Name”
- Revise “Do you have a name (first, middle) that you commonly use that differs from your legal name?” to “Would you like to share a different first name that people call you?”
- Revise “Alternate Name” questions to “Former Name”
- Revise “Do you have any materials under another name (for example, a maiden name, middle name, or nickname?)” to “Do you have any materials under a former legal name?”
As we look towards continuing the evolution into the 2024–2025 application cycle, we are exploring taking a deeper look into other challenges impacting students and members.
These topics may include:
- Develop a thorough understanding of the use of parent education and parent occupation data, including the student and member requirements and challenges
- Continue to assess the fee waiver eligibility criteria to ensure that we are supporting students who qualify