top of page

What’s Changing with the 2021-2022 Common App

Updated: Dec 14, 2021

The Common App is changing for the 2021-2022 academic year in some important ways.

“In order to fulfill the promise of higher education as a pathway to economic opportunity, it’s incumbent upon institutions, advocates, and stakeholders to eliminate any potential barriers that may stand in the way for students from all backgrounds,” Jenny Rickard, President & CEO of the Common App recently shared.

The Common App team did some research and discovered that questions relating to background, family history, citizenship, and sexual orientation posed potential barriers for some student applicants. For example, 6 percent of undocumented non-submitters skip the application’s current geography questions, compared to 1.5 percent of U.S. citizen non-submitters. With more than 1 million students and 900 colleges and universities using the Common App, they’re working to remove or modify questions that might become barriers for select groups.

So, what’s changing?

  • Starting this year, students will have the option to share their preferred first name with an added multi-select pronoun question

  • For students who would typically choose “Other (non-U.S.)” for nationality, students can now respond with specific international or undocumented/DACA responses

  • To further lessen the gap for international students, all geography questions will be optional

  • Questions relating to family history, such as a parent's education or occupation, will be removed

These important changes should reduce barriers for students who currently feel that responding to certain questions will decrease their chances of acceptance. As I've discovered when coaching students with their application essays, expressing their uniqueness can set them apart from the crowd in a very positive way. I hope these changes to the Common App will help students from all backgrounds and orientations to feel celebrated for who they are – not singled out in a negative way.

To learn more about how you can use your story to Stand Out from the Crowd through your college application essays, check out my self-paced online course. It’ll give you a jump start on completing the essay portion of the Common App before it officially opens on August 1. For more information and to access free resources to help you share your unique story, visit


bottom of page