Although the common application doesn’t open until August 1st, we already know that there will be changes, both logistically and in terms of content. Here is what rising seniors need to know about the 2015 common application:

  • There are new essay prompts. (New language appears in italics.)

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.

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?

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 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.

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

By the way, it’s ideal if you can complete your common application essay before returning to school in the fall.

  • Some schools will not require you to submit your main essay, and some schools won’t ask for recommendations.

Apparently, some schools will not require you to submit the common application essay, which is a big change. In general, it’s still a good idea to submit the essay, even if one of your target schools doesn’t mandate it. In addition, certain schools are eliminating the need to submit recommendations, or are asking for a reduced number.

  • It will be easier to make edits.

You can revise your essay repeatedly, even submitting different versions to different schools. Also, you can preview the application in sections, making it easier to edit.

  • You can apply to over 60 new schools through the common application. More schools are joining the common application, including popular selective targets like Tulane.

I highly encourage my clients to write their essays over the summer, as well refining their school lists and executing the common application itself, which can take longer than you think. Understanding these 2015 common application modifications will hopefully allow students to start now, and to complete outstanding applications over the next few months.

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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than $70 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 98% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.
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