Common App Strikes Disciplinary History Questions From Standard Application Process

CATEGORY: Private Education Matters
CLIENT TYPE: Private Education
DATE: Dec 09, 2020

The Common Application (Common App) is a non-profit membership organization that represents approximately 900 public and private colleges and universities in 21 countries, including the United States.  The Common App allows students to apply to multiple colleges and universities through one streamlined admissions process.  Through the Common App, students applying for college submit basic background information like name, address, parental employment and education, and extracurricular activities, and submit the types of documents that colleges and universities typically require like essays, recommendation letters, and transcripts.

The Common App has also asked students to provide information about their history of the discipline in high school.  Since 2006, students have had to answer the following question:

“Have you ever been found responsible for a disciplinary violation at any educational institution you have attended from the 9th grade (or the international equivalent) forward, whether related to academic misconduct or behavioral misconduct, that resulted in a disciplinary action? These actions could include, but are not limited to probation, suspension, removal, dismissal, or expulsion from the institution.”

Beginning with the 2021-2022 application season, however, the Common App will no longer ask questions about high school discipline as part of the application process.  In a recent press release, the Common App announced that its decision to remove discipline-related questions arose from federal data and academic research demonstrating that school discipline disproportionately impacts students of color, and particularly students of color with disabilities.  The Common App cited a study by the Center for Civil Rights Remedies that the suspension rate for Black students is approximately 3.5 times higher than for white students.

The Common App also shared data from 2019 about submission rates among students who begin completing the admissions process through the Common App.  The data indicated that among the students who did not report any disciplinary history, 12 percent did not submit their college applications, whereas, among the students who reported disciplinary history, 22 percent did not submit their college applications.  That amounted to more than 7,000 students not submitting their college applications after disclosing school disciplinary history, likely out of concern that colleges would not accept them due to the discipline.

The Common App explained that the removal of disciplinary history questions is intended to “make a positive impact on millions of students.”  Nevertheless, it is important to note that despite the removal of these questions from the Common App, colleges and universities may still request disciplinary history from applicants in their supplementary admissions applications.

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