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New Essay Topics On Common Application

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Common app essay questions 2012

Common Application Is Removing a Surprising Essay Topic - The

Jun 22, 2012. The Common Application won t formally launch until August 1, but the. Common Application essay prompts are already out.

May 15, 2012. Previews of the 2012-13 Common Application for colleges and. Please write an essay of 250-500 words on a topic of your choice or on one of. Oct 10, 2012. The new Common App is removing the topic of your choice essay option. 19, 2012. The new Common Application a universal form that. Below are essay questions for the 2016 Common App and the 2016 Purdue application. The application for 2016 enrollment will be available by August 1, 2015. Apr 1, 2015. True to its word, the Common App released its new essay questions for on March 31. While the length will remain 250-650 words.

Feb 5, 2013. Common Application Is Removing a Surprising Essay Topic Oct. 10, 2012. Common App 4.0 Jan. 19, 2012. The new Common Application. Jan 28, 2012. In case you re sitting on the edge of your seat waiting for notification of next year s essay topics for Common Application member colleges and.

May 15, 2012. Common Application Essay Requirements. In 250 to 500 words, students should respond to one of these prompts: Evaluate a.

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Common App Essay Questions

Common App Essay Questions

Common App Essay Questions?

If you have found your way to this page on the internet by searching for information about the Common App Essay Questions for 2013-2014 – or, if you have already have the new essay topics and are about to tear your hair out like our friend in the picture above – welcome!

In this article, I will be discussing the new Common App Essay prompts for 2013-2014.

If you are not familiar with the Common Application, I explain what that is on the home page of this site.

Notice, that in the second sentence, I replaced the word “questions” with the word “prompts”.

As we will see in a moment, several of the essay prompts don’t have a question mark at the end, and are not questions at all.

This is an important point, because if you see the essay prompts as “questions”, you may go seeking answers to those questions – and, like the fellow in the graphic above, feel like tearing your hair out when you can’t find any.

The fact is that there are no Common App Essay “questions” – and hence, there are no Common App Essay “answers” either.

There are only essays – good essays, bad essays and a whole lot of mediocre essays.

It Is Important Not To See The “Prompts” as Common App Essay Questions

On Aug. 1, 2013, the Common Application Board of Directors announced the new essay “prompts” for 2013-14. Let’s see what they came up with:

  • 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 an 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.

As noted above, the first and last prompts in the list do not have a question mark at all. And while the others do, the really important words in each of the prompts are “directives” – that is, authoritative instructions. Here is the a list of the “directives” that appear in the five essay prompts:

Remember – these words were all chosen with utmost care.

And what are they all intended to do?

Prompt you to tell a story.

Share, recount, reflect upon, describe and discuss.

These are not questions at all.

They are words that were carefully and deliberately chosen to prompt you to tell them – your readers – something about you that distinguishes you from all of the other applicants.

And remember – they don’t have any idea what that something that you want to tell them is – and because they don’t know what it is, there is no right or wrong answer.

So, don’t tear your hair out looking for one.

Just do exactly what you are being instructed to do – share, recount, reflect upon, describe or discuss.

How to Use the 2013-2014 Common App Essay Prompts

The five essay prompts listed above are designed to help you come up with a story or incident from your life experience which will distinguish you – and your admission application – from the tens of thousands of other applications.

The choice which you make as to what to write about – in response to the essay prompts – will make or break your essay and quite possibly, your application, as well.

If you get the topic wrong, it really doesn’t matter how well you write your essay – it will still be a weak essay.

Last year I worked with a young woman whose first attempt at a common app essay was about buying a golf hat.

It was a reasonably well-written essay, but the subject matter was so weak that it was virtually impossible for the essay to have any impact – and it didn’t – at least not for me.

After a bit of coaxing, she abandoned that topic and wrote about her role in helping her mother recover from a serious health challenge – and the result was an essay that was powerful and poignant.

The choice you make as to what to write about will make or break your essay.

Before you embark upon your essay, you might want to run your topic by a Common App Essay Tutor like me because that is the stage at which I can really help you.

Drilling Deeper Into the 2013-2014 Common App Essay Prompts

Let’s return to the subject of how to use the essay prompts to help you come up with the strongest topic you can.

The first step is to read them – not just once – several times.

Is there one that jumps out at you? Let’s consider them one by one:

  • If, for example, the first prompt calls out to you – a background or story that is so central to your identity that your application would be incomplete with out it – then you have experienced something life-altering – whatever it may have been. If you are one of those people whose very identity has been shaped by an experience – then you know who you are, and that is the experience that you should write about. If you have not experienced something life-altering – and by” life-altering”, I am talking about the loss of a family member, an escape from a war-torn part of the world, a serious illness, something like that - I would advise you to stay away from the first prompt, because writing about a trivial or mundane experience in response to that prompt will sink your essay, guaranteed.
  • The second prompt is very specific – it is about overcoming failure. Again, this isn’t a topic you can choose if you haven’t experienced a profound failure. If you trivialize this topic, you will experience failure – the failure of your Common App Essay and possibly your failure to get accepted into the college or colleges of your choice. On the other hand, triumphing over failure is a powerful topic, and if you do have an experience in your past that you can write about with real force, your essay can be memorable, and that is what you want.
  • The third essay prompt is, once again, very focused. It is about challenging a belief or idea – standing up for your principles and suffering the consequences. Have you ever done that? If you have, then this topic should be the one that immediately jumps out at you. Keep in mind – it is not just about challenging a belief or idea – it is about the consequences of your action. “Would you make the same decision again?” If your actions caused had some serious ramifications, then the answer to that question may not be so simple – but if they didn’t, then you probably didn’t have the kind of experience that can be turned into a powerful reponse to this essay prompt.
  • I will be very frank and state that I think that the fourth essay prompt is the trickiest of all. “Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.” I will bet that virtually every essay that is written on this topic will sound the same – some pastoral description of a place in the country – a cottage, summer camp, a farm – something like that. Don’t forget, the essay has to be about you. “What do you experience there and why is it meaningful to you?” If you think you can write a memorable essay on this topic, go ahead – but I invite you to run it by me if you want as my guess is that 99% of the essays written on this topic will fail to provide a compelling explanation of why the place described is meaningful. This is a very difficult topic, in my view.
  • The last essay prompt is also tricky – it would have been a lot easier if what was being prompted here was an experience that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood in terms of your own maturity – in other words, a simple “coming-of-age” story. But the experience has been qualified by this phrase – “within your culture, community, or family”. In other words, it is some kind of experience which is recognized by others – it is not a “personal” journey. The obvious choices for a topic like this are Bar and Mitzvahs, which, in the Jewish culture, mark the formal transition from childhood to adulthood, and other cultures and religions have similar “formal” events. If you choose to write about one of the more obvious choices for this topic, you run the risk of sounding like every other essay about a Bar or Bat Mitzvah or Confirmation ceremony. What would be really powerful would be an essay about a personal experience which was recognized within your family as marking your transition from childhood to adulthood because that would probably be unique – if you have something like that in your past, you could write a very impactful essay – but you need to have a very strong experience to relate.
A Very Significant Omission from the 2013-2014 Common App Essay Prompts

We have reviewed the five Common App Essay Prompts for 2013-2014, and we have seen that each one of them poses a significant challenge. What is most significant of all, in my opinion, is the essay prompt that was omitted this year – and which was included in previous years:

That prompt is gone for this year. In the past, if you didn’t like any of the essay prompts, you could always write your essay on anything at all – like the golf hat essay I mentioned earlier.

There is no longer a prompt that allows you to write an the topic of your choice.

Which is why, in my opinion, the Common App Essay is more challenging than in the past.

How a Common App Essay Tutor Can Help You

As I have stated in this article, your choice of topic can make or break your essay, regardless of the level of writing skill that you can bring to it.

And it is not just about choosing the right topic to write about – it is about structuring the story and extracting the most meaning from it.

As a Common App Essay Tutor, I can help you at any stage of your essay – but none is more crucial than the beginning stage – before you have chosen your topic.

The right topic is fully 75% of the battle.

If you would like me to help you with your Common App Essay, I invite you to contact me for a FREE consultation via:

The Video Below Has Some Very Interesting Comments About the Essay Prompts

The essay prompts for 2013-2014 were announced less than a week ago, but already a video has been posted to YouTube with some very interesting comments. To view, click the arrow:

Common Application Essay Questions for 2013-2014

Common Application Essay Questions for 2013-2014

The people behind The Common Application have just released the new essay prompts (PDF link) for college applicants who apply in the 2013-2014 admissions season. As noted in The Common Application Board of Directors’ announcement, these new prompts are the result of two years of discussion about where essays fit in the overall college admissions process. This is the first big change to the essays in years (including to the word counts!), and it’s clear that the Common Application Board didn’t take the task of reworking these essays lightly.

Without further ado, here are the all-new Common Application essay prompts:

Common Application Essay Questions for 2013-2014

  • 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.

Which Essay Prompt Should You Choose?
To paraphrase the advice given in the announcement, you should choose the essay prompt that best allows you to tell the application readers something about you that they won’t get from your high transcripts and test scores. Note that these are all “touchy-feely” topics, not questions about your SAT scores or where you placed in the Math Olympics.

This type of reflection is often hard for young people to do well (the hardest topic to write about is usually you!), but just know that college admissions officers aren’t perfect, they know you’re not perfect, and you’re frankly more interesting when you show something other than how perfect you are. It’s okay to reveal a weakness or a fear, or to share something that seems silly, as long as it helps admissions officers feel like they got to know you better and it makes it easier for them to imagine you walking around their campus a year or two from now. Being real is better than simply being impressive.

Common Application Word Limits
You must submit only one essay, and it must be no more than 650 words. This is big news in its own right: The word limit was just 500 words last year! Trust us: Those extra 150 words can make all the difference in the world when you’re trying to whittle down your story. You don’t need to use all 650 words… As The Common Application folks say, “650 words is your limit, not your goal.” If you can tell your story in an impactful way in just 400 words, then great. Some of our all-time favorite admissions essays are also some of the shortest we have seen.

Note that there is actually also a minimum word limit: 250 words. The system won’t accept anything shorter than that, although we doubt many college applicants will end up with first drafts shorter than 250 words.

Update: Check out our most recent article including three tips you should follow to write a standout Common Application essay!

Plan on applying to college soon? Veritas Prep offers college admissions consulting to help you find the schools that best fit you, improve your applications, and land a significant financial aid package. Also, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google Plus. and follow us on Twitter !

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2013-2014 Common Application Essay Questions

IvyWise College Admission Blog The Common Application Announces 2013-2014 Essay Prompts, Longer Word Limit

Today the Common Application released the essay prompts for the 2013-2014 application. along with news that they will enforce a strict 650 word limit, an increase of 150 words from the previous 500 word limit.

There has been controversy surrounding the Common Application's new essay prompts since it was announced they were eliminating the "topic of your choice" essay option. According to the organization, the development of the prompts and the word limit came after much consideration from the counselors on the Outreach Advisory Committee.

The Common App also clarified on its Facebook page that the short answer activity essay will not be part of the main application in 2013-2014. Schools will instead choose whether or not to ask a version of it on their supplements.

Below are the instructions and the new essay prompts for the 2013-14 Common Application, set to be released in August.

Instructions. The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so. (The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

"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."

What do you think of the new essay prompts? Do you think there should still be a "topic of choice?" Tell us in the comments!

Advice for Students on Topics for the New Common App Essays

Advice for Students on Topics for the New Common App Essays

College advisor Alice Kleeman joins us today in our ongoing series on the changes to the Common Application with some excellent guidance for students and how to think about the new essay prompts and an entertaining look back on some of the essays that have been favorites in her twenty years advising students.

The five prompts that will appear on the “new” Common Application should allow for nearly any topic you might choose. Below are some suggestions for academic, extracurricular, and personal topics that might fit neatly into a response for each prompt. Of course, these are just suggestions, designed to jumpstart your thinking, provide a gentle nudge if you feel stumped, and to help you decide which prompt might provide the best opportunity for you to show the admission office who you are. Your response to any college-essay prompt should be entirely personal and one that only you could write; these examples are just to get your essay juices flowing!

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.

“background,” “story,” “identity,” “incomplete without”

• Have you moved from one school to another in order to pursue greater academic opportunities?

• Has your pursuit of academics been influenced by your parents’ lack of formal education?

• Is your dedication to a particular academic area shaped by your life experiences (for example, has your interest in medicine stemmed from growing up with a sibling with chronic illness?)?

• Is your identity entirely tied up in the music you’ve been composing and playing since you were five?

• Has your ethnic background led you to participate deeply and fully in the dance, spiritual, or culinary traditions of your culture?

• Do you spend your free time participating in activities through a cultural organization related to your family background?

• Do you come from a bicultural family? Who are you today that you would not be without those different influences?

• Have you grown up in a family that has been challenged by poverty, illness, or other obstacles? How has this influenced your identity?

• Have your extended family’s values been transmitted to you in a unique and particularly powerful way over the years?

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

“incident,” “failure,” “effect on you,” “lessons learned”

If you choose this prompt, after describing the “failure,” be sure to show the positive changes that emerged from the situation!

• Did you challenge yourself in an academic area that is not usually your forte, and find that it didn’t go the way you hoped it might?

• Did you seek a summer internship in an academic area you thought you’d like to explore more deeply, and find that you weren’t engaged in the way you wished?

• Have you submitted your writing, art, or lab results to a professional journal for publication, and received your first rejection letter? Or have you received what seemed to be negative feedback from a teacher and had to approach the subject in a new way?

• Did you believe that the serious injury you experienced in your sophomore year would derail your athletic career? Or did you fail to make the team in your sport of choice?

• Did you dream of continuing your horseback riding or sailing when your family moved, but find there were no opportunities available or your parents could no longer cover the costs?

• Did it seem like a great idea for you to follow in the footsteps of an older sibling and participate in his or her activities of choice, but then learn it didn’t work out so well for you?

• Did you challenge yourself to a resolution, goal, or personal promise, and find you weren’t able to stick with it?

• Did you make an effort to reach out to people you hoped would become your friends, only to find they didn’t welcome you?

• Have you ever taken a close look at your character traits and personal qualities and hoped to make fundamental changes, but then realized those traits and qualities were inextricably tied to who you are?

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

“challenged,” “belief or idea,” “prompted,” “same decision”

• Did you decide to offer a different-from-the-accepted and possibly unpopular perspective in your English or history class? Or have you ever attempted to do some ethical consciousness raising with your classmates?

• Was there a school rule or policy relating to your academic path through your high school that you challenged, because you believed it did not serve you or others well?

• Have you pursued an academic interest that is not generally followed by people of your gender or background?

• When you learned that certain students were being bullied or excluded from an activity at your school, did you tackle the inequity?

• Were you ever told by a coach or activity director that you would not be successful in a particular activity, yet you chose to pursue it?

• Have your parents felt you couldn’t handle a new passion on top of your other commitments, leading you to seek ways to manage your time so you could prove your ability to balance your busy schedule?

• Have you begun to question the precepts of your religious or cultural upbringing?

• Are you resisting the pressure in your community to do it all—and do it all perfectly—and instead are seeking balance in your life?

• Have you ever made a well-thought-out effort to convince your parents to give you more independence and freedom?

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

place or environment,” “content,” “do or experience,” “meaningful”

• Has a cozy corner of the local bookstore or school library become your happy place?

• Have you made the chemistry lab your home away from home?

• Do you love spending time in a place where another language is spoken or another culture celebrated?

• Is the badminton court, robotics workshop, or practice hall for your youth orchestra the place where you feel most in your element?

• Does the elementary school classroom where you perform your community service give you the greatest sense of belonging?

• Do you feel your strongest sense of ownership at work, whether it’s the ice-cream parlor, hardware store, or coffee shop?

• Is there a leafy tree in your backyard that you gravitate to when you want to read and think?

• Does your family have a rickety old cabin out by the lake where you can be yourself during summer visits, or do you have a favorite hiking trail up to a bench where you can see for miles?

• Have you tailored your bedroom to reflect your personality and suit your every need so it’s the one place where you can be the essential you?

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

“accomplishment/event,” “formal/informal,” “transition to adulthood,” “culture, community, family”

• Did you make your government and economics education come alive by registering to vote on your 18 th birthday?

• Have you taken a class on a college campus, and lived the life of a college student during that time, or taken an internship where you’ve worked as an equal with a group of adults?

• Did you become a U.S. citizen and experience studying for and taking the test, and the ceremony that goes along with that milestone?

• Has your talent allowed you to participate at such a high level that your teammates, band-mates, or co-workers are all adults, and they treat you as such?

• Has one of your activities taken you out of your own community, so you learned to travel and cope with new situations on your own?

• Did you come up with the funding for your most meaningful activity on your own, so you’ve assumed a heightened level of adult responsibility and appreciated the activity all the more for your independence in making it happen?

• Does your family rely on you for adult responsibilities such as childcare for siblings, translation, transportation, or housework?

• Have you taken on financial responsibilities to help support your family?

• Do you come from a single-parent family where you play a role as the man/woman of the house, with all its attendant responsibilities?

SOME OF MY FAVORITE COLLEGE ESSAYS

As I noted earlier, your response to any college-essay prompt should be entirely personal. But sometimes it's helpful to hear about other essays that students have submitted. Do remember, though, that the most important thing about the essay is that it should be something only you could write! Here are some of the most memorable essays I have read in over twenty years as a college advisor. You'll see that they paint a vivid and personal picture of the writer.

My all-time favorite college essay was a student’s account of his work at the local hardware store, and what it meant to him to take care of people’s basic home-and-garden needs. It was simple and straightforward; I knew him well by the time I finished reading the essay.

A similar topic, another student’s after-school job, began, “Working in a library today is not for the faint of heart.” Really? I can’t wait to know why! An essay that began with “I am amazed by what I have learned about myself from children” was a superb and telling little gem about an unexpected experience with young children already feeling academic pressure. Another great essay began with, “It is strange to be grateful for a fractured skull.” Don’t you want to read on?

Another student wrote about her love of … triangles! Yet another focused on the student's life-long love of reading. A lover of art history who volunteered at the Rodin Sculpture Garden began her essay, “If I’m not at school or at home, I’m likely to be found working behind the gates of hell.” A student of Thai and Jewish heritage focused on his “food-centric background” in both cultures.

And finally, who could resist an essay (about a student’s family forays into intellectual curiosity and experimentation) that began, “The baking sheet slides into the oven, pushed by my mother’s careful hands—and on it rest a dozen wadded-up balls of Kleenex, half fresh, half used.” All of the above essays could fit neatly into one or another of the Common App prompts!

Alice Kleeman has served as the college advisor for 18 years in the College and Career Center of Menlo- Atherton High School, a public high school of 2,000 students in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also teaches each summer on the faculty of the College Board’s Summer Admission Institute for new admission officers.

Previous posts on the Common Application changes include afeature discussing the new prompts and word-limits, and Q&A’swith Common Application Director of Outreach Scott Anderson;Common App Outreach Advisory Committee member Ralph Figueroa, Dean of College Guidance at Albuquerque Academy; Wayne Locust and Nathan Fuerst from Admissions at University of Connecticut; and Vanderbilt University’s Dean of Admission Douglas Christiansen. Next up: our Q&A with Jeannine Lalonde, Senior Assistant Dean of Admission at University of Virginia.

New Common Application Essay Topics Released

The Common Application has made several significant changes to its newest version of this widely used online college application. In a controversial move, they have eliminated “topic of your choice” as an essay prompt. For the first time in many years, they have also changed some of the other essay prompts. According to Inside Higher Education, 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.

The Common Application has also instituted new essay lengths. Instead of a 500 word maximum, students may now use up to 650 words and the minimum acceptable word limit will be 250 words.

Article written by College App Wizard

Lynell's 20 years of experience as a college counselor, consultant to The College Board, an Associate Director of Admissions and Director of Financial Aid have given her a unique insider's perspective to the college application process. She has helped countless students and parents navigate the path to college. She also volunteers her time with several non profit organizations to help low income students go to college.

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Common app essay topics for 2014

The New Essay Topics For the New Common App Strategies 4 Admission

What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? Describe a place or an environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

And while the others do, the really important words in each of the prompts are directives that is, authoritative instructions. Here is the a list of the directives that appear in the five essay prompts: share recount reflect upon describe discuss, remember these words were all chosen with utmost care. The choice which you make as to what to write about in response to the essay prompts will make or break your essay and quite possibly, your application, as well. If you get the topic wrong, it really doesnt matter how well you write your essay it will still be a weak essay.

The third essay prompt is, once again, very focused. It is about challenging a belief or idea standing up for your principles and suffering the consequences. Have you ever done that? Drilling Deeper Into the Common App Essay Prompts Lets return to the subject of how to use the essay prompts to help you come up with the strongest topic you can. The new essay prompts for the Common Application can be foundby clicking thelink below. Mmonapp. Org/CommonApp/Docs/DownloadForms/2013/EssayAnnouncementFinal. Pdf, visit our Support Center for School Forms, follow us on Facebook. After a bit of coaxing, she abandoned that topic and wrote about her role in helping her mother recover from a serious health challenge and the result was an essay that was powerful and poignant.