Carolina colleges making it easier to apply


Photo by UNC Asheville, which uses the Common Application.

The Common Application, commonly referred to as Common App, a not-for-profit membership organization that is committed to advancing college access, recently added 38 new members. Four are from North Carolina: Appalachian State University, Barton College, Catawba College and East Carolina University.

Common App was established in 1975 with a dozen or so college members. This was when students typed their applications on paper, used white-out and sent them via the US Postal Service – seems like a long time ago!

During the last decade plus, CA has witnessed astronomical growth and now counts more than 740 colleges and universities in the United States and abroad among its membership. According to the CA website, “The Common Application membership represents influential institutions from 49 U.S. states, 17 countries outside the U.S., and includes over 130 public institutions and 10 HBCUs.”

Common App’s powerful online platform and college planning website serves and supports more than 3 million students, teachers, and counselors in the United States and around the world every year.

Students especially appreciate the ease of working with the Common App. “Using the Common App made the very stressful college application process a little easier. Knowing I had to write just one major essay for almost all of my colleges allowed me to focus on making it the best essay possible,” said Lucas Collins, a senior at Ardrey Kell High School who plans on attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall.

This will be the first year Appalachian State, East Carolina, Barton College and Catawba College have joined the CA ranks, and they are likely to see a big jump in the number of applications.

North Carolina colleges and universities that accept the Common Application are:

  • Appalachian State University
  • Barton College
  • Catawba College
  • Davidson College
  • Duke University
  • East Carolina University
  • Guilford College
  • High Point University
  • Johnson & Wales University – Charlotte
  • Meredith College
  • North Carolina State University
  • Queens University of Charlotte
  • Salem College
  • Andrews University
  • University of North Carolina at Asheville
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • University of North Carolina at Wilmington
  • Wake Forest University
  • Warren Wilson College

South Carolina colleges and universities that accept the Common Application:

  • Columbia College
  • Converse College
  • Furman University
  • Newberry College
  • Presbyterian College
  • Wofford College

In addition to new members, CA has seen a variety of other changes in its application (two new essay prompts), as well as its services and its infrastructure. The new version of the Common App, which will become available on Aug. 1, has many upgrades. Students will now be allowed to assign advisers to their application so they can view their work and monitor their progress, and “key information” will be translatable into Spanish.

Students and counselors will also have access to 24/7/365 supportfinancial aid and scholarship opportunities, and the ability to sign up for a free virtual mentor.

Students can create a Common App account or download the free Common App onTrack mobile app now to start exploring the application. Counselors can use Common App Ready, a flexible advising tool, to introduce students and families to the college planning and application processes.

To stay up-to-date, follow Common App on Twitter @CommonApp or by reading its blog “what’s (app)ening?”


Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to:;