Baltimore native Dr. Rebecca Joseph will be presenting at Spring 2015 IECA on the amazing topic of “Rehabbing Your Image: Using College Essays To Strengthen Applications of Students Who Have Experienced Challenges.” She will be presenting with fellow IECA member Elizabeth Stone and U VA Associate Director of Admissions Valerie Gregory and Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Educational Advisor and Former Stonehill and Northeastern Admissions Officer, Evan Read.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 6• 3:00 – 4:15 P.M.
Dr. Joseph is the the founder and creator of All College Application Essays. She will be exhibiting at IECA. Come visit us for info about her integrated mobile app and website. Enter for a free year and receive a free month at the All College Application Essays booth.
2015-2016 Common APP Essays Prompts and Commentary
By Rebecca Joseph
The Common Application last week released its 2015-2016 freshman essay prompts. They include one entirely new prompt (prompt four) replacing the one about the place where you are perfectly content. They revised the first two prompts and kept two (essay three and five). The length of 250-650 words remains the same, and colleges can now make the essay optional. The Common Application also states that it will help kids identify all supplemental essays they need to write in a more streamlined way.
Here are the prompts with the new sections italicized next to last year’s prompts
|2015-2016 Prompts||2013-2015 Prompts|
|Prompt One- RevisedSome 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.
|Prompt OneSome 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.
|Prompt Two- RevisedThe 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?
Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
|Prompt Three- SameReflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?||Prompt ThreeReflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
|Prompt Four- NewDescribe 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.||Prompt Four
Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
|Prompt Five- SameDiscuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.||Prompt Five
Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
Prompt 1. Thank goodness this prompt now includes talents and interests. It empowers students to tell any number of powerful stories about their passions. It changes “central” to “meaningful” freeing writers to tell a wide range of unique stories. It seems to me like a cool alternative to topic of your choice.
Prompt 2. I am glad that the new prompt starts with lessons from failure that lead to success as the former prompt led many students to stay mired in failures without discussing even more relevant successes. After all, colleges want to know who the applicants are now because of former failures.
Prompt 3. This prompt about challenging ideas or beliefs remains the same and always leads to fascinating essays. I always tell students that community service actions often challenge the status quo, and anyone who is the first in their families to go to college always challenge ideas and beliefs.
Prompt 4. This entirely new prompt is interesting and will now empower students to explore intellectual topics and other problems they solve in and out of classrooms. It does potentially overlap with prompt three as solving problems can often challenge beliefs or ideas.
Prompt 5. This prompt remains the same, and yet it’s the prompt that the fewest of the students I work with across all socio-economic, ethnic, and cultural groups tackle. Few teens view themselves as adults, and writing about bar-mitzvahs and quinceaneras does not usually lead to great essays. It takes more work to help a student see this prompt as relevant and to realize that many of their actions show how they are now “adults.”
It’s a shame that the one explicitly happiness oriented prompt is gone because I witnessed amazing essays emerge from students grappling with what it means to be content in complex situations. But I can imagine that many of the essays that never had any dimension frustrated and even bored admissions officers.
I wonder why the multi-pronged application with such reach is now making the long essay optional. Writing the essay provides teens with an incredible opportunity to share unique stories that communicate what they can offer colleges. Colleges that make it optional may be trying to up application numbers while missing out on a key source of original data.
I do thank the Common Application for including a wide range of voices in their surveys and displaying more transparency in their non-profit work.
Directions To Get Started:
We are so excited. Our All College Application Essays website and integrated mobile apps are up and running. Our updated Google app and Apple App, and the two are inter-connected, so you can use your log in information for both. NOTE: You can only purchase our service on our website–either on your computer or website.
People wanting to get started using our new, improved site, just need to follow the following steps.
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1 Website on computer useres: then click on Packages on the dashboard and choose your package.
2 Website on mobile users, click on menu bars on upper left hand sign of screen. On drop down menu, click on packages and choose your package.
4. To pay, the site will take you to Pay Pal, where you can use your account or just enter your credit card data as a guest user. It’s secure, and I never receive your account info. All accounts are good for one year from purchase price.
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7. Former users of our app, will need to create a new account as we upgraded our services and are now working on a 12 months user contract. It takes so much labor to update each year that we believe the new payment system is only fair.
Make Your Stories Pop: 10 College Application Essay Guiding Questions
Working on the drafts of your personal statements for your college applications? The drafting process is critical and can help make your stories and messages clearer. Please be willing to draft and re-write to make your essays stronger.
Here are 10 questions to help guide you through the editing process. I hope they can help make your stories pop on the page and help you get admitted to your match colleges and receive lots of scholarship money.
- Does your essay start with a story that hooks us in from the first paragraph?
- If you start in the past, do you get to the present very quickly? Colleges want to know about the recent you. Great essays can start more recently and weave in past events.
- Do you write only in the first person and not spend too much time describing anyone or anything else? Use my one-third-two-third rule. You may not spend more than 1/3 of the essay describing anything other than your own activities and goals.
- If you are writing about your community or family, do you get to the present and your life and life works quickly? Can this description only connect to you and your story of who are you and how you are making a difference?
- Do you only tell one story and not try to tell your entire life story?
- If you are writing about an obstacle or challenge overcome, do you get to how you have responded and made a difference in the life of your community by the second or third paragraph of the essay? Admissions officers want to know who are you and how you make an impact drawing upon your obstacles or challenges.
- Do you have a metaphor that goes through the entire piece…does this metaphor reveal who you are and what you offer to potential colleges? You can embed this metaphor throughout out your piece.
- Can I close my eyes and picture your story? Does it make you sound unique and not like anyone else applying? Can I see your leadership and initiative and the power of what you will offer a college campus?
- Do you tell new stories and qualities in each separate essay your write? Do you make sure to reveal powerful information and core messages that colleges will need to know to admit you and give you money to attend?
- Endings-Do you end with a bang? Do you make it clear by the end you have goals and aspirations that drive you. Your endings must be specific for some prompts like the University of California and University of Texas, but can be more oblique and implied in Common Application and many supplementary essays. Do you end leaving the reader with the desire to get to know you more, to see you on his or her campus, and to share your essay with someone else?
2014-2015 All College Application Essays AUGUST Essays Update
Can’t you believe it? We have already updated more than 700 colleges. There are still a few universities who haven’t posted their writing supplements or released their own applications or honors essays. Here are the Common and Universal Applications that haven’t released supplements as of August 25, 2015.
We hope to have our new web and app version out by September 1, 2014. It’s not easy dealing with developers that live overseas. So thanks for your patience.
Common Application Supplements Not Yet Out. You can tell we have updated an application with new deadlines and 2014-2015 at top of essay page.
- American University–need to check in September for AU Emerging Global Leader Scholarship for International Students:
- Bard Early Start–check essays in September
- Dominican University of California-updated all but Nursing Supp. not yet available
- Emory University–Merit scholarship essays not yet updated on Emory website
- Lake Erie College
- Long Island University Brooklyn Campus
- Mount St. Mary’s College-Los Angeles
- Naropa University
- Pine Manor College
- Rhode Island School of Design
- Rice University-2015 Rice/Baylor College of Medicine Applicants
- Roger Williams University
- Saint Francis University
- Siena College- Supplement for Medical program not yet available
- Southern Connecticut State University
- The George Washington University (Writing Supplement not yet available)
- University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (Writing Supplement not available yet)
Universal Application Supplements Not Yet Available
Common Application Member Pages or Writing Supplements
When the 2014-2015 The Common Application is released this Friday, applicants will find supplemental essays in two potential places: the college’s Member Page or a separate Writing Supplement. The 2014-2015 Universal Application is exclusively using supplements. All College Application Essays will continue to place all university specific requirements for the Common or Universal Application under Supplements AND we will let you know where to locate them.
Good luck to all rising seniors and transfer students on their college application process.
2014-2015 Boston College Writing Supplement
For both freshmen and transfers:
We would like to get a better sense of you. Please select one of the questions below and write an essay of 400 words or less providing your response.
1. What contemporary issues or trend relating to politics, culture and society, or foreign policy particularly concerns you and why?
2. Many human beings throughout history have found inspiration and joy in literature and works of art. Is there a book, play, poem, movie, painting, music selection, or photograph that has been especially meaningful for you?
3. Contemporary higher education reflects a tension between preparing for a meaningful life and preparing for a career. What are you looking for in an undergraduate education? Which emphasis is important to you at this moment and why?
4. “Magis”, a Latin word meaning “more,” is often cited in reference to the goals of Jesuit education, which seeks to help students become better, do more, and have as much impact on society as possible. How do you hope to achieve the Magis in your life?
Thanks For Visiting Us At HECA
Everyone values our unique app. Listen to this short video by Joan Thomas, who praised us at WACAC and HECA 2014.
“This is so app is so fantastic and it improves my productivity… I think it’s awesome. I think every student and every counselor should have it.”
Joan has it. So do hundreds of HECA counselors. Shouldn’t you?
The Common Application is the online application program that serves more than 500 colleges. It changed dramatically last year and had challenges for all users. Perhaps the change in leadership will not only make the application easier but also its communication with and respect for others. Continue reading
From the Common Application Website The Common Application will retain the current set of first-year essay prompts for 2014-15, without any edits or additions. The essay length will continue to be capped at 650 words. The feedback received from member colleges and school counselors has been positive. The essay prompts will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that they continue to serve students and member colleges well. Continue reading