Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Common App, Common Sense

As a new crop of freshmen arrives on the Hilltop next week and scores of overachieving high schoolers begin applying over the next few months, the time is right to reconsider our school’s application process.

Ever since my senior year of high school, I’ve been frustrated that Georgetown is not on the Common Application.

Between conversations with friends and Danny Funt’s (COL ’14) extensive interview with Dean of Admissions Charles Deacon for The Hoya, I’ve sensed two main objections to the Common Application in the Georgetown community.

First is the prevailing perception that the Common Application represents a rat race for status among top colleges. As only a Georgetown dean could, Deacon asserted that “we don’t succumb to the false gods.”

I agree with him; we should not switch to the Common Application for the sole reason of improving our ranking. However, the Common App’s accessibility would enable Georgetown to draw from a much more diverse pool of highly qualified applicants.

During their first years on the Common Application, Brown saw a 21 percent increase in applications, while Columbia saw a 32 percent increase. I have no doubt Georgetown could see a similar effect and therefore yield a more academically accomplished and diverse freshman class.

In fact, one of the biggest issues in college admissions right now is the fact that many qualified students from lower income backgrounds simply aren’t applying to selective schools. A switch to the Common Application would make Georgetown more accessible to qualified students who may not have much college guidance information.

Jessica Marinaccio, dean of admissions at Columbia, cited this reason as her institution’s main motivation for joining. “We offer one of the most generous need-based financial aid programs in the country and believe the Common Application will make applying to Columbia more accessible to students from every background,” she said.

A second Georgetown objection: Our separate application somehow requires more “effort” than the Common Application and elects for students with a more genuine interest in the school.

Dean Deacon claims that with the Common Application, “We’d only be adding people who otherwise wouldn’t have gone to the effort. They would look really good because their other options are Harvard, Princeton and Yale, but somebody who might have gone through the effort might end on our waiting list.”

To address Dean Deacon’s assertions, I’m not fully sure what “going through the effort” really means or why it is so important. The Georgetown application is remarkably similar to the Common Application. It’s not as if Georgetown is asking applicants “How do you feel about Wednesday?” like the University of Chicago does (and even they switched to the Common Application five years ago).

But in all honesty, I remember using my Common Application essay for the primary question on the Georgetown application, and then simply filling out the rest as if it were any other Common Application supplement. The copy paste took no time at all, and at no point in the process did I feel like I was making some additional effort for which I should be rewarded.

We may be selecting the most capable hoop-jumpers, and not really those with any special interest in Georgetown. The Common Application could bring Georgetown more diverse, highly-qualified freshman classes, with no change to the current goals and criteria of the admissions process.

IMG_5445Paul Healy is a rising senior in the College. Hoya Sapiens appears every other Thursday at

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    AnonymousAug 22, 2014 at 4:00 am

    Paul, you make good points in your article, and I certainly agree with them. However, while attracting a more diverse student body socio-economically is important, Georgetown’s financial resources–the university currently has the third smallest endowment of any top-25 school–need to be able to support such a student populace before the university can change its admissions practices. Unfortunately, comments from administrators, including Dean Deacon in Danny Funt’s interview, paint a different reality regarding the university’s ability to do so: In Funt’s article, Dean Deacon said, “One of the big issues is whether poor kids are coming as rapidly as they could. The question for us is if they did, how would we afford them?”

    Georgetown has admirably maintained a need-blind admissions process and a policy of meeting one-hundred percent of the demonstrated need for eligible students. The next step is for the university to be able to replace student loans with grants in its aid packages, an achievement that allows universities like Penn and Harvard to enroll more socio-economically diverse student bodies. At that point, I believe, a decision to move to the Common App would not only promote more diversity on campus but represent a policy that is financially viable.