Gender Identity, Criminal History, School Discipline Update


The Common Application is committed to ensuring that throughout the Common App, all students, regardless of their background, feel comfortable to express themselves and tell their unique stories.

In the last year, the gender identity, criminal history, and school discipline questions have continued to be discussed by members and counselors on The Common Application Board of Directors and Outreach Advisory Committee. Based on their thoughtful input and guidance, modifications will be made to these questions for the 2017-2018 application.

Students have the ability to express their gender identity in several ways within the Common App. The following changes will be made to the upcoming application:

* “Sex assigned at birth” will be designated as “Sex.” Students are still required to answer and will be able to select female or male so that colleges can comply with federal reporting.

* “Sex” will be removed from the registration screen. Students will answer the question in the Profile section, where it will appear with a non-required, free-text question about gender identity.

Part of the Common App since 2006, the criminal history question has also been an important topic of ongoing conversations for The Common Application membership and stakeholders, including the counselor community.

Working to meet the diverse needs of 700 members while also being responsive to the concerns of counselors and their students, the 2017-2018 Common App will provide more context about the criminal history and school discipline questions, such as the ability of colleges to suppress answers to those questions. Students will be given more information such as:

* Introductory text and FAQs will be added to help students understand that their answers will be considered carefully and don’t preclude them from being admitted.

* Students will be able to easily find out about a college’s approach to the criminal history and school discipline questions. The Common App will have each college’s suppression decision in the “search results details” screen for each school.

As the national dialogue around gender identity, criminal history, and school discipline continues to evolve, The Common Application will continue to seek the valuable feedback of members, counselors, and students.

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