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Allen Grove

The New Common Application Essay Prompts for 2013!

By February 6, 2013

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The Common Application is used by nearly 500 colleges including all members of the Ivy League and many other prestigious institutions in the U.S. and abroad. For several years the application has changed little. Later in 2013, however, we're going to see CA4, the fourth major iteration of the Common Application.

The revisions to the new application are significant. Hidden from students is a much more robust platform designed to handle easily millions of applications a year. Immediately apparent to applicants will be a simpler user interface and, here's the biggie, entirely new essay prompts. Gone is the "Topic of Your Choice," and the new prompts are designed to get at an applicant's character. For you ambitious juniors who want to get an early start developing your essay ideas, you're in luck. The Common Application recently released the new prompts. There are five of them, down from the six prompts in the current version of The Common Application:

  1. 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.
  2. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  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 place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

For current applicants, be sure to check out my tips and samples for the Common Application essay prompts. For future applicants, I'll be publishing tips and samples for the new prompts in the coming months. I'll have plenty of resources available for you by the time CA4 goes live on August 1st.

You can check out the official announcement of the new essay prompts on the Common Application website.


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