More Important Information on the New Common Application

August 13, 2013
August 13, 2013 ACS

Last week, we wrote about the new and improved Common Application that many high school seniors will need to complete when applying to college in the fall.

Independent college adviser Lee Bierer says that according to the Common Application, the changes are “revolutionary” for applicants, counselors, and teachers as well as the 527 member colleges. The Common Application has undergone a two-year, $8 million overhaul and it is the first update since 2007. Bierer also says that Aba Blankson, the Director of Communications for Common Application said that during the last admissions cycle “723,576 applicants used Common Application to submit 3.05 million applications.”

So, how is the “new” Common Application different?

  • According to Bierer, the essay length will now be more closely monitored. The minimum word count will be at 250, while the maximum word count will be capped at 650 words. In addition, the new version will give the opportunity for students to return to their applications and make changes for future applications.
  • The new Common Application will no longer include the Extracurricular Activity short answer question, but individual colleges may choose to review a response to that question on their supplements. Also, colleges will have the option to accept “more” writing samples or resumes on their Writing Supplements.
  • The biggest change for students applying using the Common Application will be the “new” essay prompts. These are designed to allow students a greater opportunity to be insightful and introspective about their life experiences. Bierer suggests that students should review and evaluate all five topics carefully before “jumping in” and writing what they think college admissions professionals want to read.
  • The “Topic of Choice” prompt has been eliminated. Students will need to respond to one of the five new prompts, which are:
  1. 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.
  2. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Describe a place of environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

If you are going to be completing the Common Application and need help organizing and practicing the essay portion, please give us a call and we can set up an appointment to guide you in the right direction.




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