Common App and equitable admissions

Common App’s mission is to increase access, equity, and integrity in the college admissions process. That mission has never been more important.

While it is disheartening that the Supreme Court has ended a practice that has helped diversify colleges across the country, Common App will continue to do our part to help close equity gaps for all underrepresented students in higher education. Support for students is at the core of our mission, and we’ll continue to find ways to enable them to share their lived experiences on the college application.

Our initiatives, products, and efforts bring more underrepresented students into the college admissions process. We will continue to support our member colleges and universities as they adapt their admissions decision processes in light of the Court’s decision.

Race & ethnicity questions in Common App

Here’s what you can expect from Common App in the 2023-2024 admissions cycle beginning on August 1:

  • The optional questions asking for race and ethnicity will stay on the first-year and transfer applications. 
  • Member colleges are able to hide (that is, “suppress”) the self-disclosed race and ethnicity information from application PDF files for both first-year and transfer applications. That means when they receive an application PDF from Common App, the race and ethnicity data will not be visible. Colleges also are able to suppress the following data from the application PDF: any or all test information, social security number, date of birth, and gender.  
  • Member colleges also are able to configure the data imports from Common App to recognize or exclude race and ethnicity. Colleges use this information for state and federal reporting, institutional metrics, and other business purposes.   
  • Common App will continue to use student race and ethnicity responses for statistical and research purposes and to provide insights into the national conversation on equity in college admissions. 
  • We will maintain our planned August 1 launch of the 2023-2024 Common App, so colleges, students, and the counseling community can prepare as normal.

If you have questions after reading the following Frequently Asked Questions, please contact the appropriate support resource:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Why is Common App still asking students to share their race and ethnicity?

A: The race and ethnicity questions on the first-year and transfer applications are optional for students. If a student chooses to share their race and ethnicity, we will use that information for statistical and research purposes. This and other student data will help inform our access and equity initiatives and to provide insights into the national conversation on equity in college admissions.

Q: Will colleges be able to review a student’s responses to the race and ethnicity question on an application?

A: Colleges have the option to hide (or “suppress”) the self-disclosed race and ethnicity data from application PDF files for both first-year and transfer applications. 

Colleges have the ability to suppress data that students have entered into the application on their PDF. The data that can be suppressed include:  

  • Any or all test information
  • Date of birth
  • Gender
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Social security number (SSN)
Q. Did the Supreme Court rulings (SFFA v Harvard/UNC) make it illegal for Common App to ask a student's race?

A. Common App’s inclusion of an optional race and ethnicity question is not illegal. Common App does not make college or university admissions decisions. Our role in the college admissions process is to serve as an application for students to apply to college. The Supreme Court’s decision applies to public or federal funds-receiving colleges and universities who make admissions decisions. Those institutions determine the information they consider when making those decisions.