U of Chicago joins Universal College App, an alternative to sector leader Common App

February 19

One of the story lines of this college admission cycle is how many universities are looking for alternatives to the Common Application after the rocky rollout of its latest online version.

This week the University of Chicago, a Common App member since 2008, announced that it will add the Universal College Application as an option for the next cycle.

The Common App, run by a nonprofit organization of the same name based in Arlington, is the giant in the field. It serves more than 500 colleges and universities.

Its competitor, run by the for-profit company ApplicationsOnline, based in Baltimore, now serves more than 40.

The Universal College App has gained several significant clients since the fall. They include Princeton, Tufts, Duke and Cornell universities; Washington University in St. Louis; and Trinity, Hampshire, Emerson, Goucher, Newberry and Juniata colleges.

In October, many students and counselors complained that the fourth version of the Common App, which debuted in August, was freezing them out as they were hitting deadlines. That caused a spike in stress not only among applicants but also among colleges that worried about losing prospective students. Many colleges extended deadlines to ensure students had enough time to file.

Complaints ebbed, though, as bugs were worked out, and Common App officials say application volume was up compared to the year before. The Common App has eliminated its paper version.

A former Post education editor, Nick writes about college from the perspective of a father of three who will soon be buried in tuition bills.
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