Big news! The Common Application Board of Directors has changed the questions for the common application essay beginning next fall. If you haven’t applied to college before, it shouldn't really matter, but if you have older siblings/children who have, it’s a good idea to preview the new questions.
Actually, it’s a good idea for all high school juniors to read over the questions now to get an idea of the five different options and have a chance to reflect on past, present and future experiences you might wish to write about.
How are the questions different from previous years? Gone is question #6—write on whatever topic you wish--so now every applicant has to present a more specific and focused essay. The 500 word limit has been extended to 650 words, though some counselors still recommend sticking as close as possible to 500 words. The questions focus less on achievements and more on struggle. They ask more specifically for reflection and evaluation, especially questions 2-4. Question one is still pretty open ended—a “background or story . . . central to [your] identity.” And overall they seem to direct students more toward narrating one event or story rather than stringing together several vignettes.
Here’s a link to the new questions:
I suggest investing in a notebook or opening a file on your computer where you can jot down ideas and reflections during the next few months. Don’t forget you can sign up for a college essay writing workshop or for individual help with essays through my website: