The Uncommon Rise of the Common App

More than 500 colleges have made the same form a cornerstone of the admissions process. Is that a good idea?

The Uncommon Rise of the Common App 1

Matt Roth for The Chronicle

Students perused college booths at a fair in Baltimore this month. More than 340,000 applicants have used the Common App already this admissions cycle.

Just for a moment, forget all the glitches. Forget the panicked high-school students who couldn't log in to submit their applications or who saw their essays garbled. Forget the parents who paid the same application fee twice because they couldn't tell if it had gone through, the admissions officers who waited months to import applications, the college counselors who uploaded recommendations that vanished into a virtual fog.

Without question, the rollout