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What Is Common App's Direct Admissions Program?

It's always a good feeling when your child gets an acceptance. But what if they get an acceptance without ever applying?

That's what happened to my high school senior this week. She got an email from Common App that she had been offered "Direct Admissions" by "one or more" colleges. When I asked her to send me the information so I could take a look, she had offers from six colleges within our state. Not only did she never apply to these colleges, they never even made it onto her list. 
These six colleges are part of a pilot program called Direct Admissions through Common App. Participating colleges set a minimum GPA for students in their home state, Common App identifies students for them, and, voilà, acceptance! Or more accurately, a "Direct Admissions Offer" that the student can get if they submit their application to the college by the latest deadline. 
 
I love this idea. But I am a bit confused. All of the messaging from Common App suggests that this is a way to encourage first-generation students and lower income students to go to college. My daughter is neither. 
 
Common App says this on its website: "Participating colleges set their requirements, including a minimum GPA for students in their home state. Common App then finds first-generation and lower-income students who meet these GPA and residency requirements using their Common App responses." I just assumed that you had to be first generation and/or lower-income to be eligible. Based on my daughter's experience, it appears that this is not the case, necessarily.
 
I will continue to look into this for my daughter and all of you. But if you get a "Direct Admissions Offer," consider it. You still have to submit your Common App, but it is usually all set to go at this point. The application fee is waived and you're guaranteed to be admitted. Not a bad offer for anyone.
 
This program is just a reminder that applying to college doesn't have to be so cumbersome, stressful, and exclusionary. While I am still a little confused about whether this is supposed to be for first-generation and lower-income students or not, I am grateful my daughter has more options in front of her. 


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Instead of focusing on colleges that don't admit them, I want students to focus on the ones who do (or would). Direct Admissions 
might be a way for us to change students' perspectives about applying and going to college. If you live in a state with this program and you have filled out your Common App, you might have multiple offers of admission waiting for you. Check your email like my daughter did and, voilà, you may have a nice surprise!