For high school seniors across the country, the very thought of college applications tends to cause stressful days and sleepless nights. However, future applicants to the University of Southern California (USC) can breathe a sigh of relief; beginning this fall, for students applying to the class of 2016, USC will join 414 other colleges and universities in accepting the standard Common Application.
Issued by The Common Application Board, the Common App streamlines the college process by allowing students to fill out applications online and submit to many schools with the click of a mouse. The site also provides numerous organizational tools that allow a student to track other components of her application, such as supplements, payments and school forms.
For many years, USC hosted its own two-part application, including an optional essay to determine early on which students were genuinely interested in attending the school, but the accessibility of the Common Application inspired the school to finally make a change.
According to USC Assistant Dean of Admissions Lisa Rhone, however, the optional essay was so necessary to their admissions process that USC will now require a supplement including that and other important elements of their old application.
“It’s about getting down to the information we most want to see,” Rhone said, who added that the university is currently in the process of creating a supplemental application for the upcoming applicant pool.
By adopting the standard application, USC will both relieve prospective students and improve the efficiency of the University’s admissions.
According to College Counselor Michael Heeter, USC will not only be able to cut down on printing and processing costs but will also no longer be the “odd man out” in the application process.
“The Common App and [The Common Application Board] has continued to grow so much over the years, and more schools with national and international reputations have been using it, so in the last three to four years, [at USC] the topic became much more of a discussion,” Rhone said.
Although USC’s intention is to aid students in the application process, Marlborough juniors said they see the transition as both positive and negative.
“I think it’ll definitely ease some stress,” Sara ’12 said. “I think it will be easier on us specifically, because we’re going to be stressed out first semester with college apps, anyway.”
According to Heeter, when Columbia switched over to the Common App in 2008, the school saw a 32% increase in applications, with 49% coming from California alone. Therefore Marlborough girls interested in applying should expect to have increased competition in the applicant pool.
“It’s a good decision for [USC] because they’ll have a wider spectrum of applicants,” Edith ’12 said. “But for that student who generally wants to go there, it’ll have a negative impact, because it will be easier for people who may not have necessarily wanted to go there to just press a button and simply send off another application.”
However, the College Counseling Office said they remain optimistic.
“Even with the increase in admissions, we’ll get through it,” Heeter said. “We always do.”