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Common Application modifies questions on sex and gender

<p>Tom Slucer / <a target="">CC0 1.0</a></p>

Tom Slucer / CC0 1.0

On Feb. 24, the Common Application announced changes to questions relating to gender identity and legal sex, which are to take effect in the 2021–2022 application process.

The Common Application implemented these changes to address students’ widespread concerns about their inability to express themselves properly on the application.


The revised application will include adding an optional question asking students for their preferred first name in addition to their legal name. It will also add an opportunity for students to multi-select or write in a set of pronouns that they use and will change a question asking for “sex” to “legal sex.”

In a blog from the Common Application website, President and CEO Jenny Rickard wrote that the changes were discussed and implemented because “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.”

These changes accompany a similar modification in 2016, where a text box was added to allow students the opportunity to express their gender identities.

Some students believe that the new changes aren’t enough to allow for full inclusivity of students. Mel Hornyak ’23, who does not go by their legal name, noted that the phrase “preferred name” was not the best language to use.

“It’s not really a preference for many students,“ Hornyak said. "It’s just their name and something integral to their identity.”

Hornyak said they agree, however, that these changes are overall beneficial for students. “I’m really glad that they are taking steps to make the Common Application inclusive and acknowledging the fact that there are trans students that are applying to college and that they may need help feeling more comfortable with this difficult process,” they said.


Over 97 percent of current Princeton undergraduates used the Common Application when they applied in the 2019–20 application process.

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