New Common App Essay Prompts for 2017-2018

Here we go again! This year's Common App essay prompts have been released, and since last cycle, three of the prompts have been revised slightly, in order to help students "see expanded opportunities for expressing themselves," according to The Common Application. You'll see the revisions below in italics. There are also two new prompts. The first asks students to share examples of their intellectual curiosity. The second invites students to submit an essay on a topic of their choice. That's right, the sky's the limit this year! Students, take a look at the prompts, and start brainstorming. If you need help coming up with an idea, please get in touch. I have a brainstorming exercise I take students through to arrive at something that will be meaningful to them while showcasing their strengths.

2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts

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. [No change]

2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? [Revised]

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

4. 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 the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? [New]

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. [New]
  

Looking for help with an essay? Contact me for a free consultation at info@theessayspecialist.com or 646-526-0515.

Trying to decide which school to pick?

Congratulations, you've been offered admission to several colleges! Now comes the hard part—trying to decide which one to choose. If you're struggling with the decision, take a look at your supplemental essays. You most likely had to write a "Why this college" essay and put into words exactly why you were interested in the school and how you thought you'd fit into the campus community. Review these essays and they could help you remember why you thought a particular school was the right one for you.

College Admission Stress: Will I Get In?

I read a great book not too long ago about a seemingly perfect family in the San Francisco Bay Area that comes undone over their eldest daughter's quest to get into Harvard. The book, called The Admissions, will hit uncomfortably close to home if you too are feeling frazzled by your child's college admissions process. But I encourage you to read it, not only because it's incredibly funny and smart. It's also a great cautionary tale about how the pressure to be perfect and get into a certain school can be overwhelming. 

So how to help alleviate that pressure? Try to help students understand that their lives don't depend on getting into one particular school, say experts. Tell success stories of people who went to all different types of colleges. There are more than 4,500 post-secondary institutions in the United States, so there is bound to be more than one school that would be a good fit. Also, be realistic about where to apply. Make sure your child applies to several safety schools so that he or she gets some good news when students start to hear from colleges. Finally, make sure you aren't projecting your own hopes and dreams onto your child and setting unrealistically high expectations. Students are often most afraid of disappointing their parents. Make sure your child knows that you will be happy as long as he or she is happy, no matter which school he or she ends up choosing.

Starting early, applying to a wide variety of schools and keeping in mind that students can be happy and succeed at a number of different colleges are the keys to staying sane during this pressure-cooker process. And reading a good book for a few laughs along the way can't hurt.

Looking for help with an essay? Contact me for a free consultation at info@theessayspecialist.com or 646-526-0515.

The Best Time To Work On A College Application Essay

Summer is in full swing, and students are enjoying the sun, surf and sleeping in late that this respite from school brings. Although it's tempting to kick back and relax all summer, now is actually the best time for teens to start working on their college application essays.

When school starts in fall, it will bring challenging classes for students in their senior year, as well as extracurricular activities such as sports and clubs. Often, volunteer projects must be done as well, to satisfy requirements at school and to bolster college applications. Buckling down now to brainstorm and start writing is the smartest thing a soon-to-be busy student can do.

Coming up with a topic is often the hardest part of getting started, and I can help. I have a series of questions I like to ask teens to help them identify what it is that will really make them stand out on their application. Some teens have an idea of what they want to write about but need help organizing their thoughts. One of the most helpful things I do is to draft an outline while we talk, assisting clients in making sense of their ideas and transforming them into one powerful essay.

Getting started can be the most difficult part of the process, but once a client has something down on paper, it quickly begins to take shape and turn into something that they can be proud of. I'd advise all teens applying to college this fall to set aside some time soon to look at the Common App essay prompts and start brainstorming how they can answer them.

Looking for help with an essay? Contact me for a free consultation at info@theessayspecialist.com or 646-526-0515.

Common App Competition Emerges

Most students are familiar with the Common Application, the most popular college application platform with more than 600 member colleges and universities. Well, now there's a new platform on the scene, the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, with about 90 colleges and universities participating so far. The new platform aims to broaden access to college for under-served students and get students involved in the application process sooner. Most notably, this platform has different essay prompts than the Common App:

— Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
— Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
— Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
— What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
— Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

The Common App limits your essay to 650 words, while the Coalition recommends no more than 550 words. Of course, many schools ask for supplemental essays, so don't forget to find out exactly what's required from the schools that interest you.        

Looking for help with an essay? Contact me for a free consultation at info@theessayspecialist.com or 646-526-0515.

Malia Obama Chooses Harvard

Big news from the White House today. First daughter Malia Obama will attend Harvard University, but not until the fall of 2017. She's chosen to take a gap year before beginning college. Harvard actually encourages incoming students to take a year-long break following high school. From their website:

Harvard College encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way — provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college. Deferrals for two-year obligatory military service are also granted. Each year, between 80 and 110 students defer their matriculation to the College.

We'll have to wait and see what Malia devotes her time to during her break from school, but I'm sure it will be interesting. Last summer she interned on the HBO show Girls.

Looking for help with an essay? Contact me for a free consultation at info@theessayspecialist.com or 646-526-0515.

 

Common App Essay Prompts

It's that time of year again! The 2016-2017 Common Application essay prompts are confirmed, and high school juniors everywhere will soon be gearing up to work on their essays. Here are the topics, which have not changed from last year: 


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.


2. 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?


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


4. 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 the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.


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

During the 2015-2016 application cycle, more than 800,000 applicants submitted a common application, and 47 percent of them chose prompt number one about their background, identity, interest or talent, making it the most popular prompt by far. The least popular? Prompt number three, challenging a belief or idea. Only four percent of applicants chose that topic.

Looking for help with an essay? Contact me for a free consultation at info@theessayspecialist.com or 646-526-0515.