Common App Revises Application Questions on Sex and Gender

Changes to application used by more than one million students each year reflect Common App's ongoing initiative to build a more inclusive, equitable process

February 24, 2021 8:30 AM EST

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ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- As a part of an ongoing effort to revolutionize the college application and create a more equitable admissions process, Common App today announced a series of changes to the questions on its application focused on sex and gender. Beginning in the 2021-2022 admissions cycle, the questions related to gender identity will be revised to better reflect the identities of the more than one million students who use Common App each year.

"These shifts represent the next step in an ongoing effort to create an equitable, just, and inclusive application for all students -- no matter how they choose to identify," said Jenny Rickard, president and chief executive officer of Common App. "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."

According to 2019 research from the Trevor Project, 54 percent of transgender and non-binary youth have seriously considered suicide in the last year and LGBTQ+ students of color are twice as likely as their straight white cis counterparts to drop out of school. In an effort to ensure that the application process itself will not undermine LGBTQ+ students' chances of attending college, Common App will add a question to provide applicants with the option to share their preferred first name, added a pronoun question that gives students the option to multi-select or add their pronoun set, and shift the presentation of a question from "Sex" to "Legal Sex" to reduce student confusion.

These changes are the latest in Common App's effort to revolutionize the application process, which have also included the removal of a question about school discipline and updates to questions about applicants' citizenship. Common App, which is used by more than 900 colleges and universities around the county, will put these new changes into effect for the upcoming 2021-2022 application cycle.

About Common App

Common App is a not-for-profit member organization committed to the pursuit of access, equity, and integrity in the college admissions process. Each year, more than one million students, one-third of whom are first-generation, apply to college through the Common App's online application. In January 2019, the Common App united with Reach Higher, the college access and success campaign started by former First Lady Michelle Obama during her time at the White House.

By joining forces, Common App and Reach Higher accelerated progress toward our joint goal of supporting all students, especially low-income and first-generation students, in achieving their higher education dreams. Our access and equity work for students include a college advising texting campaign with AdmitHub and College Advising Corps, scholarships and community college initiatives, Dear Class of 2020 Fund, and more.

Founded in 1975, Common App serves over 900 member colleges and universities worldwide. To learn more, visit, and follow @CommonApp and #CommonApp on social media.


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