Attention Rising Seniors: Common Application Preview

If you know anyone who has applied to college in the past ten years, chances are you have heard of the Common Application, an online application that is now accepted by more than 460 institutes of higher education, including 62 public colleges and universities. The Common App was originally created to simplify the application process by allowing students to complete one application and send it to multiple schools electronically. (This original vision has been distorted because many colleges also require a supplemental application to the common application, which often has additional essay questions). Each year, the common application staff works with an advisory board to make revisions to the application for the subsequent year. While the application will not come online for the class of 2012 until August 1, you can find a preview of the new application.  Here are the highlights of changes to this year’s applications:  

Language Proficiency Question. A general question about language proficiency has now been expanded, requiring students to indicate through a check box if they can speak read, or write the language, and if the language is their first language or is spoken at home.  

Civil Union/Domestic Partners. For the first time, this is a check box option under Parent Marital Status.

College Enrichment Courses including Online. For the first time, the college/university section asks for a transcript to be sent where available for courses such as those taken through summer enrichment programs. The idea is to hold students more accountable for their performance in such courses if they want to report them on their application.
Shorter Activities Section. Students can now report on 10 activities, down from 12; however, the description fields have been expanded so there is more room to convey the nature of student involvement.
Upper Word Limit on Essays. Students are now asked to write between 250 and 500 words. In recent years, there has been no upper word limit and apparently many students were writing essays that were much too long for admissions counselors to get through in a reasonable amount of time. Likewise, the short answer is limited to the space provided, typically about 150 words. In addition, students are cautioned against creating more than over version of the application in order to customize an essay for each school. They clearly state: Your Common Application essay should be the same for all colleges.  

Revised Language on Disciplinary Actions. Students are asked to report any disciplinary matters even beyond the categories listed such as probation, suspension, removal, dismissal or expulsion. For the first time, the 2011-2012 Common Application will be available via smartphone. Mark your calendar for August 1, 2012 so you can visit and start applying to college!

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