The Common Application will open on August 1 for the new cycle of 2014 college applications. Many students are trying to get a head start on the application essays prior that date. It is a great idea to at least start the brainstorming portion of the essay writing process; however, students should not feel as though they need to have everything completed before the start of the senior year. But where to start? What is the college looking for? Ted Spencer, Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director at The University of Michigan, Undergraduate Admissions, says that “the most important thing is to hear the student’s voice. We’re looking for a story.” In interview after interview with college admissions directors, the idea is the same. They want to know who you are, what will you bring to their community. They are not interested in a typical English class essay; they want a story — your story.
Members of the high school class of 2014 would do well devoting time this summer crafting essays that are specifically written to speak to each university to which they will apply, especially if they plan to apply to highly competitive colleges. Paul Levy of the Star Tribune posts an article illustrating the importance of the essay. The bottom line – resist the temptation to write a one-size fits all essay. When writing the “Why I am a good fit for XYZ University” be sure that you could not simply replace the name of the school to have a brand new essay. Take the opportunity to reveal who you are, what you bring to that specific community, as well as specifics about why you would thrive in that environment.
The Common Application has made some significant changes to the application that current high school juniors will complete when applying to colleges for the fall of 2014. This application is used by more than four-hundred college and universities. Students simply fills out a single application and then directs that application to several colleges. Many of these colleges also require students to fill out a supplement designed to provide that institution with information that helps the admission committee to find those students who will make a good fit.
Many juniors try to relieve some of the stress of the senior year by writing essays in the junior year, but the changes in the topics on CommonApp have been a carefully held secret until now. Examiner.com has posted the topics in a recent article.
“And without further ado, here they are:
- 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.
- Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
- Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
- Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
- Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.” examiner.com