What's New with the 2015-2016 Common Application Essays?

The Common Application has released the 2015-2016 essay prompts, as well as unveiling helpful changes to the essay submission process.

Elizabeth Hoyt

June 30, 2015

What's New with the 2015-2016 Common Application Essays? What's New with the 2015-2016 Common Application Essays?

The Common Application, has revamped (and released) their 2015-2016 essay prompts.

This year, the essay questions received an overhaul and, to be honest, are looked upon more favorably for student applicants – both in terms of clarification, avoiding user errors and technical fixes.

Additionally, students have more options than ever regarding which essays they’d like to submit to specific schools as well as optional essay submissions for schools that don’t require it. (A great way to beef up your application!)

The entire process has been simplified, allowing students to easily access supplemental essays and short answers from specific schools, rather than having to hunt them down.

These technical updates help to ease the entire application process for students and schools alike. The changes were implemented based on responses to a survey given by The Common Application to nearly 6,000 members.

In short, the section now includes:

• Common Application member colleges and universities can choose whether or not to require the personal essay as part of the application requirement.

• Regardless of application requirements, applicants will still have the option to submit a personal essay.

• When the personal essay is required for a particular college, the requirement will be required during the Common App submission process to ensure an application’s completion.

• Individual college and university writing requirements will now be reflected in multiple places within the application.

• Technical resolutions have been implemented in order to streamline the entire application process so applicants won’t miss any necessary requirements or have to hunt down specific school requirements.

• The essay (as well as all other parts of the application) will remain editable for all applicants.

• Overall, the communication regarding each school’s requirements was improved in order to help students navigate applications more easily

• Indicators have been added ensure all of their submissions to schools (with specific application requirements) are completed thoroughly and without error.

• Individual essay prompts are either completely new or have had additional text added to help clarify the essay questions for applicants.

The new essay prompts are as follows with new wording italicized, as listed on The Common Application web site:

1. Some 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.

2. The 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?

3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

4. Describe 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.

5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

If you’re applying for the 2015-2016 academic year via the common app, you can start preparing now by checking out the 2015-2016 essay prompts now.

Don’t delay – the sooner you get to work, the better!

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