by Emily Toffelmire, former admissions officer at University of Southern California
The Common App, the most widely used centralized college application platform in the U.S., launched a mobile app version just last week. In the press release regarding the mobile app, The Common Application cited a study from the Pew Research Center that found 25% of teens from lower-income homes lack access to a home computer and 35% complete homework on cell phones. Black and Latinx students are even more negatively impacted by this technology gap. The Common App already knew that many students were applying to college using mobile phones; as they state in the press release, “almost 400,000 applications were submitted last year via mobile phone. Over the last five years, Common App has seen a nearly 40% increase in mobile device use of its web-based application.”
We applaud the Common App for trying to address this disparity, but wanted to try the app for ourselves to make sure it was actually a reliable and easy-to-use solution. We were pleasantly surprised by what we found! Here are some of our favorite things about the app.
- It looks and feels very similar to the browser-based version—and that’s a good thing. The Common App is easy to navigate and pretty intuitive for users, and the app mimics the design and layout, so if you’ve spent time on the browser version, you don’t have to reorient yourself in the app. The same tabs and sections are there, and they are laid out in the same fashion as in the browser version.
- The requirements grid has been a cool feature on the browser-based version of the Common App for a while, so we were glad to find it’s also available in the app. While viewing the grid within the app is a bit clunky, you can choose to download the grid and save it to your phone or Google Drive.
- One of our favorite features of the Common Application is the option to preview your progress as a PDF. Viewing your application as a PDF rather than just a bunch of fields on a screen is so helpful for proofreading, checking for formatting issues, and ensuring you’ve filled out the application to completion. We’re happy to see the PDF preview option is available in the app and just as seamless as it is on the browser version.
- If your high school has you request letters of recommendation via the Common Application, you’re in luck with the app. You can invite teachers, counselors, and outside recommenders just as easily in the app as you can when working on a computer.