The newest version of the Common Application (www.commonapp.org) launches this week, on August 1. Certainly some students and counselors are anxiously waiting for the opportunity to login and look around and begin applications. Many other students have taken the lack of application accessibility as sanctioned procrastination. (“The supplemental essay questions aren’t even available yet!”) The wizards at work on the finishing touches of CA4 assure us that the new version will make applications easier, not just change the essay prompts.
The new essay prompts were released several months ago. In my opinion, the new prompts provide more structure while still allowing an applicant plenty of latitude to construct an essay that is personal and relevant to his or her application. The new Common Application does enforce a strict word limit of no more than 650 words; no longer does an applicant need to worry that her carefully constructed 540 word essay is over the “soft” 500 word limit.
The 2013-2014 Common Application essay prompt choices are here.
The Common Application Facebook page has been adding daily helpful tips, a few of which are particularly critical to applicants in the early stages of this process.
1) Your username is your email address. Easy, right? Yes, but, given the number of contacts a college makes and the number of colleges who are tracking interest indicators, it’s best if this email address is the same one you have been using for your entire college application process. Use the same address you provided to colleges at your high school college fair last year, on the SAT or ACT and on your college visits.
2) When you register, you will be given the opportunity to allow colleges you select as “my colleges” in the Common Application to email you prior to application submission. Again, consistency in your email address will save you from duplicates.
3) You will gain access to the supplements for relevant colleges as soon as you have added them to the “my colleges” section. Consider adding all colleges early in the process so that you can have an overall sense of the writing you need to complete over the coming months.
4) Additional information: the Common Application will still allow for adding additional information. This does not mean that all applicants should have additional information to add. The newest version of the Common Application also allows students to invite additional recommenders beyond the teacher and Counselor that are required. Again, the ability to do so does not mean that you must add these. In fact, many colleges discourage addition recommendations. Check with your colleges or your counselor before adding additional information.