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

EDITORIAL: Modernize GU Application


While the recent admission of the Class of 2026 was exciting as always, the college acceptance season continues to serve as a sobering reminder of the inequities and unnecessary barriers involved in Georgetown University’s application process. 

Georgetown’s outdated, separate application portal requires more time, effort and steps than more mainstream application platforms such as the Common and Coalition applications, adding unnecessary stress for college applicants and disproportionately affecting low-income and non-legacy students in the process.

Given these disparities, the Editorial Board urges the university to shift its application process onto standardized applications, like the Common or Coalition applications, to increase accessibility and attract more socioeconomically diverse applicants. 

The Common App, which was created in 1975 to standardize the college application process, allows students to provide personal information, write a standard personal statement and school-specific supplements, and pay application fees all in one place. More than 900 universities, including highly selective institutions like Harvard, Yale and Stanford, have adopted the platform. 

Although Georgetown requires similar application materials to peer universities, it is one of the few remaining selective institutions that does not use the Common App, instead electing to use its own application, which includes several more supplemental essays. 

The university uses a private application to ensure the process highlights students’ individual strengths, according to a university spokesperson.

“Georgetown’s application keeps our process as personal as possible and allows us to coordinate an alumni interview for nearly all candidates. The Common Application promotes a larger volume of applications,” the spokesperson wrote to The Hoya. “Even though Georgetown’s application asks students to do more, it puts students first. The university’s applicant pool continues to grow in quality and diversity, and has reached record highs the last two years.”

In reality, however, switching to the Common or Coalition Application would increase access for high school students by making the school’s application more visible, eliminating the barrier created by a separate portal and streamlining the application fee waiving process. 

The university’s application fee only worsens this accessibility barrier for low-income students. Whereas the Common App allows applicants to pay fees at the end of the application process, Georgetown’s $75 fee must be paid before applicants can even access the application questions and supplements.

For lower-income students, paying the fee right away can pose undue hardships in an already financially intensive process. 

Obtaining a fee waiver through Georgetown’s distinct application is more difficult than doing so through the Common App. The Common App fee waiver needs to be approved once by a guidance counselor and subsequently applies to all schools to which students apply through the platform. Conversely, Georgetown requires high school guidance counselors to directly submit a fee waiver request via a separate form. 

Switching to the Common App and creating a more centralized platform to submit fee waivers and application documents would lessen the burden on low-income students, teachers and counselors. 

The barriers to low-income students’ application prospects are further perpetuated by the university’s practice of legacy admissions, which gives a greater advantage to children of university graduates. Given that legacy applicants are more likely to be white, affluent students, the application impedes access to more competitive institutions for low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students. Though the university does not recruit legacy applicants, it nonetheless grants preference to applicants with family ties when evaluating students on equal academic standing. 

Since Georgetown is not on the Common App, legacy applicants with graduate relatives may know more about Georgetown’s application process and could thus have an advantage over underrepresented students with no prior exposure to this separate application.   

As such, the university attempts to recruit a diverse array of prospective students through various programming and outreach efforts. 

“While each individual staff member works within their own geographic region to recruit to a diverse group of prospective students, a Diversity and Access team coordinates outreach to first-generation college students and students of color through programming with a variety of organizations (including Kipp, Cristo Rey, Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America, Chicago Scholars and others) for presentations, college fairs and mock interviews,” a university spokesperson wrote to The Hoya. 

These efforts to recruit diverse candidates are commendable, but the university must switch to the Common App to make the application process more accessible to low-income and underrepresented students, thereby reducing any adverse influence legacy admissions may have on low-income students’ admissions prospects. 

Georgetown applicants, and particularly low-income students, already face a plethora of stressful challenges when applying to college, and having to complete a separate, costly application, while contending with the unfair advantages for legacy students, produces an unnecessary burden. The university must switch to the Common App to create a more equitable admissions process that prioritizes accessibility for a more socioeconomically diverse applicant pool. 

The Hoya’s editorial board is composed of six students and is chaired by the opinion editors. Editorials reflect only the beliefs of a majority of the board and are not representative of The Hoya or any individual member of the board.

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    Professor Marilyn McMorrow, RSCJ, PhDApr 11, 2022 at 11:55 am

    I respectfully disagree with this editorial. Having served many years on Undergraduate Admissions, including this current academic year, I strongly support the University’s policy of having its own application protocol.

    The Common Application makes it much too easy for a young person to apply to multiple schools without good reason. This distorts the process significantly. A student who applies to nine or eleven schools, can only enroll in one. While it may feed ego for an applicant to receive nine or eleven acceptances (or even more), why inflate the number of applications colleges receive? Why make it easy for the applicant who wants to throw out far too many fishing lines?

    More than a decade ago, when the “echo boom” was passing through the college “window,” applicants may have had reason to be concerned they might not receive a good acceptance. That concern certainly fed the trend of multiple applications–many more than a standard “safe” and “reach” list would require. The Common App made it possible for student to do so without so much as a second thought.
    Now, however, that demographic bulge has moved beyond the college years. Numbers of college-age students are falling and are projected to continue to fall. Yet the practice of applying to far more schools than necessary persists without good reason.

    It does not concern me at all that a student who really wants to go to Georgetown has to take the time and trouble necessary to complete Georgetown’s application. I am convinced that any low-income and or first generation student that wants Georgetown will gladly put in the time and best effort necessary to explain why in the application.

    I know that such students will also seek and receive the fee waiver.

    But as long as it is possible for any applicants, no matter how affluent, to submit easily as many applications they desire, the Admissions Officers here at GU and the faculty, deans, and students on the Admissions Committees will have to continue to wade through applications that demonstrate no interest in Georgetown whatsoever, while supplying that random essay from AP Comp that earned a teacher’s approval, even though it is about picking apples in the Wenatchee valley.

    The editorial argues joining the Common Application will allow Georgetown to admit a more diverse pool. I believe it will have the exact opposite effect–increasing the chaff for those searching for the grain.

    • K

      kamalaharrisSep 29, 2022 at 6:37 pm