I really love the app (ALL COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAYS) and use it as a go-to for a lot of different things. I notice it’s available through the Google Play store now (I’m an Android AND an Apple user — go figure!)
I took a screen shot of the Middlebury app and sent it to my colleague in Westchester NY and she bought the app, too. I also introduced it to our local public high school college programs coordinator.
The Writing Sections of The 2013-2014 Common Application
The Common App just released the format of the Writing Sections sections. This information won’t challenge kids as they won’t know what came before. But these changes will take counselors a while to adapt to. In addition to what they released today, while students can submit unlimited alternate versions, they can only make changes to essay three times.
This is what the Common App just released:
“THE WRITING SECTIONS: FIRST LOOK
What writing opportunities are available in the 2013-14 Common Application?
• The Essay. Required of all applicants.
• Additional Information. Optional for applicants who wish to report circumstances or
qualiﬁcations not reﬂected elsewhere in the application.
• Required Explanations. Conditionally required for applicants based on responses to
application questions about school discipline, criminal history, military discharge, or an
What is changing about writing in the Common Application?
• There are 5 new essay prompts. They will be reviewed annually and may change, in
whole or in part, based on member feedback.
• Each writing section will have an enforced 650 word limit. The essay will not allow a
response shorter than 250 words.
• The extracurricular short answer question will be moved to individual member Writing
Supplements for colleges that wish to review an answer to that question.
• Uploaded documents will be replaced by text-entry. Students can compose their
responses directly in the application or cut-and-paste a response drafted in another word
What are the advantages of text-entry relative to uploads?
• Mobile/touchscreen devices can be better supported.
• Word count can be enforced, creating a more level playing ﬁeld for applicants.
Can students format their writing?
Yes. Basic formatting (bold, italics, underline, and accented characters) will be available.
In addition, text pasted from a word processing program will typically retain these styles of formatting. An analysis of 2011-12 essays revealed that 99.7% of them had either no special formatting or the basic formatting that we will support in CA4.
Will students have other opportunities to share more writing or additional submissions?
Yes. Any college that wants to collect and review writing samples may continue to do so on their Writing Supplement. In addition, any member willing to receive uploaded documents such as résumés, research papers, or graded assignments can invite these submissions on their Writing Supplement–or not–as they choose.”
Positive Feedback is Fabulous
I’ve been working on my app for such a long time that receiving unexpected praise makes it all worthwhile. I received this email last week:
“Thanks so much. I love your website and your iPhone App: All College Application Essays. I was sitting in a session at NACAC in Denver and a woman showed me the app. I immediately put it on my phone, and it’s the best $4.99 I’ve ever spent.
Cyndi Niendorf Certified College Counselor”
Thanks Cyndi. I’m purring.
A New World For College Applicants: The Common Application Releases New Prompts
For the first time in its recent history, the Common Application has changed its essay prompts for the 2013-2014 school year. More than 2 million high school seniors and 460 colleges use this college application platform; it enables students to send out the same application to member colleges. It requires one long essay, whose prompts have never changed.
Starting the upcoming 2013-2014 application year, the Common Applications plans to release new prompts each winter/spring. This change means we must share these prompts with all English teachers and counselors as students at many under-served schools will be at a great disadvantage if they don’t see all of the new prompts early in the college readiness cycle.
Now more than ever, we will have to keep abreast of these new prompts. The Common Application removed the formal topic of your choice prompt, which more than 60% of all previous applicants have used, yet we believe the new first prompt takes that place and provides a great chance for students to share unique stories. Thank goodness that the application still values the unique stories students may want to tell that may not fit neatly into the other four prompts.
The Common Application is also implementing a 250-650 word limit. That is new, and students will learn how they will submit their essays when the new version is released. That word length is certainly sufficient for most students. I do not know if the application will have an additional information section.
In the past, students could adapt their Common Application essay easily for many other universities that have their own applications, including the University of California, University of Texas, and Georgetown. With these prompts, those adaptations can still work but in different ways. Students, teachers, and counselors will need to be creative in developing strategies to help student write the fewest, most powerful essays.
Some ideas already come to mind: Students can use the fourth or fifth prompts and adapt it to their first University of California Essay about describing the world they come from. University of Texas applicants can adapt the third prompt for their second essay about an issue of great importance to them. And who knows, these new essays may prompt other universities to shift their essays, including the many colleges that require additional supplements. Keeping track of the major essays is already a challenge. This new world of essays will make for an interesting year, and potential challenges for under-represented students to keep track of the different prompts.
Teaching students how to work with essay prompts is a part of effective reading and writing development. Please encourage everyone you know who works with high school students to embed the new annual prompts into their ongoing work with students. These essays encourage students to share their voices through specific stories and to ground these stories in their present day meanings for students.
As the essay prompts will shift each year, students will not have prior examples to examine, and I have always been grateful for colleges that share essays they like. With the specific guiding questions for several prompts, I hope that the Common Application board members will provide some advice for students about how to structure their essays and continue to provide examples. The ending of several of the prompts could lead to didactic and artificial essays if taken literally. I am hoping that as in the past, students can embed these questions into their overall essay flow. I imagine some lively debates about the interpretation of these essays, especially their endings, in the upcoming months.
The only prompt that I worry about is the second one about an incident or time of failure. I don’t want students to wallow in that experience as the first part of the prompt may allow, but I want them to spend the majority of the essay focusing on the positive affects of the failure on the students and the powerful lessons learned. The University of Michigan used to have a similar prompt, and this led to many tales of unnecessary woe. That university removed that essay even before transitioning to the Common Application. We hope that students will use this prompt sparingly and turn their stories into evidence of who they are now: amazing students ready to offer unique qualities to their match colleges.
It’s a brand new world in college application essay writing. I hope that the process is equitable, and that all students get these new prompts in time to write great essays that truly communicate their unique voices and stories.
Follow Dr. J’s Into, Through, & Beyond Approach: Brainstorming Tip #8
Your essay needs to grab readers from the first word. You are competing for the fleeting attention of admissions officers who have dozens if not hundreds or thousands of essays and files to process. So don’t waste their precious time and tell them a story that no one else can tell. That will help you get admitted to the match college of your choice.
So follow my three pronged approach.
INTO: With your INTO, grab us into the story with a moment in time. That moment must reveal a core quality. The INTO can be a sentence, paragraph, or series of paragraphs.
THROUGH: Then go into two levels of THROUGH.
- THROUGH 1 provides the immediate context of the INTO.
- THROUGH 2 provides the overall context.
BEYOND: End with a BEYOND that is not sappy but powerful. Think of a metaphor that guides you and weaves through your story and into your ending.
Write a “Where I’m From” Poem: Brainstorming Tip #5
Think of where you are from.
Read the poem to get ideas to write your own and start an amazing essay.
Boston College Adds Supplemental Essay-WOW!!!
Here they are: Different and not easy to mass-produce. Should make for an interesting year for BC admissions.
|1. St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, encouraged his followers to live their lives in the service of others. How do you plan to serve others in your future endeavors?
2. From David McCullough’s recent commencement address at BC:
“Facts alone are never enough. Facts rarely if ever have any soul. In writing or trying to understand history one may have all manner of ‘data,’ and miss the point. One can have all the facts and miss the truth. It can be like the old piano teacher’s lament to her student, ‘I hear all the notes, but I hear no music.”
Tell us about a time you had all of the facts but missed the meaning.
3. In his novel, Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann writes:
“We seldom know what we’re hearing when we hear something for the first time, but one thing is certain: we hear it as we will never hear it again. We return to the moment to experience it, I suppose, but we can never really find it, only its memory, the faintest imprint of what it really was, what it meant.”
Tell us about something you heard or experienced for the first time and how the years since have affected your perception of that moment.
4. Boston College has a First-Year Convocation program that includes the reading and discussion of a common book that explores Jesuit ideals, community service and learning. If you were to select the book for your Convocation, what would you choose and why?
College Application Essay Tip #10: Self Yourself
Tip 10. Most importantly, make yourself come alive throughout this process. Write about yourself as passionately and powerfully as possible. Be proud of your life and accomplishments. Sell yourself!!!
Don’t lose this incredibly important opportunity to share unique stories about yourself. These are not autobiographies. They are moments in time that reveal a core story, a key quality, a powerful moment.
See Dr. Joseph’s new blog on Teen Life. 10 Tips for Staying Organized in the College Application Process. http://ow.ly/75dwr
College Application Essay Tip #6: Always Write in the First Person
Tip # 6: Always write in the first person. Remember, these are autobiographical essays, even when you talk about other people or issues. Remember the colleges are looking to accept you, not your relatives.
So use the one third and two thirds rule. Continue reading
College Essay Tip #3: Keep a Master Chart
Tip 3. Keep a master chart of all essays required by each college, including short responses and optional essays. Continue reading
“I really love the app (ALL COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAYS) and use it as a go-to for a lot of different things. I notice it’s available through the Google Play store now (I’m an Android AND an Apple user — go figure!)
I took a screen shot of the Middlebury app and sent it to my colleague in Westchester NY and she bought the app, too. I also introduced it to our local public high school college programs coordinator.” —Janis Allen