Good news for future college applicants: The Common Application now allows completed 2015-2016 application information to roll over to the 2016-2017 application, including the essay. Students can also familiarize themselves with the application from 9th grade forward, making the process more user-friendly and less intimidating and stressful by the time senior year “crunch time” all-too-quickly arrives.

The profile, family, education, testing, activities, and writing sections will be available once students log in with their original user names and choose to roll over their 2015-2016 information. Specific supplemental information, the FERPA form, the release authorization, and any questions or sections that have changed since the last application will not carry over. Remember, The Common Application also links to Naviance, a popular college and career readiness software used by many high schools.

In 2015-2016, over 850,000 unique applicants submitted their applications via The Common Application, and approximately 600 schools utilize this online application program. This year, 48 new colleges and universities will use the platform.

For the 2016-2017 application year, The Common Application did not change its five essay prompts or 250 to 650 word count requirement:

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. (47% of applicants chose this prompt last year)
  1. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? (17% of applicants chose this prompt last year)
  1. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again? (4% of applicants chose this prompt last year)
  1. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma— anything that is of personal importance, no matter what the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. (10% of applicants chose this prompt last year)
  1. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family. (22% of applicants chose this prompt last year)

Although the questions seem straightforward, many students do not know what to focus on when writing their college admission essay responses. What is the school getting at? What do they want to know about me? Why are they asking this question? What do they want to know about my learning experience that stretches beyond the story I have chosen to highlight?

Consider selecting one of the less popular essays to give admissions something new and different to read! It may distinguish your application from the crowd.

 More Essay Help from All About Writing!

Be sure to check out our previous blogs for general assistance with college application essays, whether for a college’s own application or The Common Application: “The Common Application Essay Changes and Admission Essay Tips,”   “Help with the College Admission Application Essay, Part 2, Effective College Application Essay Writing Tips” and “College Admission Essays: Ease the Anxiety with These Pointers.”

For assistance with the writing sections of The Common Application, visit “Completing the Writing Section,” a video on You Tube published by Common App Media.

All About Writing’s in-person application essay consultations are packed with information rooted in experience and expertise. Often, students miss the most important elements the school is looking for; they get caught up in telling the story rather than elaborating on its impact. All About Writing knows how to get you started and keep you on the right track so that your finished piece is polished and reflective of your personality and assets.

All About Writing is here to assist with the college application essay process, from brainstorming your ideas through proofreading your final copy. Visit our website’s “Academic Writing and College Application Essays” page to learn more about these specific services. Due to academic integrity, we do not write students’ essays for them.

Learn more about All About Writing, Howell, NJ and owner Christa Riddle at Remember, with All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away!

Call us today to make life a bit easier… for students and parents!

-by Christa Riddle



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