Admit it: Many high school seniors are in the midst of the college admissions cycle and busy completing the Common Application. Referred to as the Common App, this website allows students to submit a single application, or variations of such, to many participating colleges without the aggravation of sending myriad school-specific separate admissions materials. During the 2012-2013 admissions season, the Common App processed 2.8 million online applications from 663,000 applicants and the average student submitted 4.8 applications. Currently, 488 colleges and universities utilize the Common App.
The new version of the Common App will launch for the 2013-2014 admissions cycle. Scott Anderson, Director of Outreach for The Common Application, notes that the changes are necessary to accommodate the increased volume of applications. The revision process is being guided by a 15-member Outreach Advisory Committee, comprised of school-based and college-access counselors. Crisp Consulting + Coaching would like to highlight a few of the upcoming changes to the Common App.
Changed Essays. Students will no longer have the option of writing an essay on the topic of their choice, instead, the application will feature four or five new questions each year. “These counselors have the goal of identifying at least one new essay prompt that is broad enough to permit students to address situations of personal significance, but not so broad as ‘Topic of your choice,'” Anderson noted. The system will prevent students from submitting an essay of more than 500 words and students will cut and paste the text, rather than upload the document to enforce the 250-to-500 word range. The essay length restriction creates a “level playing field (to the extent that is possible) for all applicants,” said Anderson, “An enforced limit is not open to interpretation. Going forward, well-counseled students will be playing by exactly the same rules as their uncounseled or under-counseled peers.”
Changed Displays. The current application displays a long list of questions online that students must tediously sort through and answer. The Common App for 2013 will simplify things by only showing one or a small handful of questions at a time, and will use the applicants answers to determine which set of questions to display next that are relevant to the application.
Changed Prompts. Instead of students submitting online Common Apps that may have answers cut off or incomplete, the 2013 version will display pop up boxes, prompting applicants to preview their application to identify areas where such issues can be corrected before submission.
The decision to makeover the Common Application will cost between $7-8 million, and will allow the system to accommodate the millions of online applications received each year, as well as encourage more colleges and universities to accept the Common App.
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Brian D. Crisp is an independent educational consultant with Crisp Consulting + Coaching who works with families in Asheville, Charleston, Raleigh-Durham and Savannah to optimize and realize their unique educational fit and admission success. As a former professor, administrator, and teacher, Brian has the knowledge and skills to counsel families in all aspects of educational planning.