Five Key Essay Facts in 2015-2016 Common Application

Five Key Essay Facts in 2015-2016 Common Application

We have been busy exploring the 2015-2016 Common Application. Here are five key facts about the essay completion and submission process to make your work easier. Our website and app provide all the information about the essays required for the 2015-2016 Common Application.Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 10.02.13 AM

1. Required or Not Required Main Essay With Unlimited Edits. The Common Application main essay is now optional for colleges, which can choose to require it or not require it. Even if a college doesn’t require it, you can still submit it. After adding a college to your list, go to the Common Application Writing Section, and you will see whether the college requires the main essay or not. Remember this year, there are unlimited edits to the Main Essay. 

2. Dashboard Writing Grid. The Common Application now has a grid on the Dashboard to let you know about the Writing Requirements. Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 10.02.41 AMThere are three columns in the Writing Requirements grid: Personal Essays, Member Questions, and Writing Supplement. There are also three colored symbols. Red means required elements. Yellow means optional components, while Blue means there are extra requirements for particular applicants. The grid won’t tell you where the blue elements are located exactly or what the smart elements are, but at least you know there are smart essays that pop up for different majors.

3. Supplemental Essays in Both Member Questions and Writing Supplement. The supplemental writing requirements are still distributed around the application. Some are included in Member Questions, while others are in the Writing Supplement section. Don’t assume there aren’t required writing requirements for a college if you don’t see a Writing Supplement. For example, Boston University has its required and program specific essays under Member Questions: Essays, while Barnard puts it supplemental essays in its Writing Supplement. Some colleges put writing requirements in both sections. See below for examples.

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Essays in Writing Supplement

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Essays In Member Questions










  1. Smart Essays. There are smart essays embedded in many applications. You will need to find them. Some are for specific major choices like Cornell and USC, while others are for honors programs and scholarships. They vary.
  1. Different Word Requirements. There are different word lengths for required essays for certain circumstances. The educational interruption section explanation is now 250 words or less, while the required explanations of disciplinary issues are now 400 words or less. The Common Application and Additional Information are still 650 maximum words. For supplemental writing requirements, some word limits are provided, while others you will find out by completing the essay.

About Rebecca

Dr. Rebecca Joseph is the developer of this unique integrated website and mobile application that provides all college application requirements for more than 1,1100 major universities in the US and Canada. She has a PhD from UCLA and is a national expert on writing powerful college application essays.

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