Common Application Changes 2013-14

As thousands of students worldwide get ready to complete the Common Application ( launching online August 1st, there are several changes to note.

The college essay is a vital part of the Common Application and plays an important part in the review of each college applicant. The college essay provides the applicant an opportunity to show their originality, their distinctive voice, and a chance to present information that is not evident elsewhere on their application. It also shows that students can write concisely and organize their thoughts.

The word limit on the essay is now 650 words. Applicants may write fewer than 650 words, but the Common Application will not accept less than 250 words. The Common Application has a choice of 5 essay prompts, but the popular “topic of your choice” essay prompt has been removed. Students will write their essays into a text window and the word limit will be strictly enforced. It is likely that italics, underlining, and other text formats will not be available.

The new essay prompts are:

• Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

• Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

• Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

• Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there and why is it meaningful to you?

• Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Another change in the Common Application is the elimination of the ability to upload a resume unless requested by the individual college or university. There will be no short essay question on the 2013-2014 Common Application, unless an individual college supplement requires it. Do not register for the Common Application until the new version launches on August 1st.

The Common Application reviews the essay prompts each year and may introduce changes from year to year. If you have any questions regarding the essay or any part of the application, please feel free to contact us for support.

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