Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What's Up? It's the App!

The Common Application for 2012-2013 college admissions is now available in preview form. Students can't submit it yet -- it won't be available for filling out online till August. But starting to think now about the information needed to complete it and what might make a good essay can save a lot of heartache and agita later. The Common App was begun in 1975 as a way to make the college application process easier. Today, 450 colleges use this form as their primary application. But many will also ask for additional short answers and essays geared to the specific school. Most of the information is straightforward. It asks about activities (but don't feel compelled to put something in all of those spaces) and includes forms for teacher recommendations. But here's what everyone really wants to see -- this year's essay topics, which don't differ greatly from previous years: Please write an essay of 250-500 words on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below, and attach it to your application before submission. Please indicate your topic by checking the appropriate box. This personal essay helps us become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself. NOTE: Your Common Application essay should be the same for all colleges. Do not customize it in any way for individual colleges. Colleges that want customized essay responses will ask for them on a supplement form. * Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you. * Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you. * Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence. * Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music or science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence. * A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you. * Topic of your choice. Summer vacation? Nonsense. It's essay time.

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