I just returned from a two-week trip to California, where I was helping run a Common App and essay writing workshop at Hammer Prep, in San Diego. The workshops (we run two) are always a blast, and students leave with:
- A completed Common Application.
- A polished Common Application Essay.
- An Activities and Awards Resume, which can be used with all applications.
- A Master Plan for college admission success, which includes a task list and timeline of any remaining items: application deadlines, additional test dates, supplemental essay topics, etc.
Many students will also leave with:
- Supplemental essays.
- University of California essays.
If you are located in the San Diego area, I highly suggest checking out Hammer and asking about next years workshops for your rising juniors! I hope to be there again 🙂
The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success recently released its application’s 2016-2017 essay prompts. With the inclusion of the “topic of your choice” prompt, it looks like students will not have to write a new personal statement if they decide to submit apps via this prompt in addition to the Common Application—so that’s good news! Additional information from their site, and the prompts, below.
With so many institutions participating in the Coalition, there are many different admissions guidelines, and schools will treat these general application essays differently in their admissions processes: some schools won’t require an essay at all; other schools will require one of the general essays and answers to additional school-specific essays or short answer questions. Please consult the application requirements for each Coalition school in which you are interested.
Suggestions for Use
You are free to work on these essays at any time. (You can even store essay drafts in your Locker!) They are useful for honing your essay writing skills as well as for inclusion with your application. If you plan to submit one of our general essays with your application(s), please use one of the prompts offered during your application year.
The prompts for the 2016-17 application year are:
-Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
-Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
-Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
-What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
-Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
Many changes on the horizon for applicants this summer/fall. Here’s another to add to the mix, this time from the UC system, regarding essay topics (more info here)!
So, what happened to the personal statement?
-We’ve replaced the personal statement with the new personal insight questions for the fall 2017 application. We hope this new format will give you clearer guidance and more flexibility in the kind of information you want to share with us.
-The personal insight questions are about getting to know you better — your life experience, interests, ambitions and inspirations.
-Think of it as your interview with the admissions office. Be open. Be reflective. Find your individual voice and express it.
-While this section of the application is just one part we consider when making our admission decision, it helps provide context for the rest of your application.
Check out the new prompts and the guidance provided:
Freshman questions & directions »
Transfer questions & directions »
Writing tips »
An early April Fools’ Day article by Frank Bruni, or a glimpse into our impending future? A hilarious yet sad read but thought-provoking and yet another reminder that we need to take these outcomes with a grain of salt. One of my favorite bits:
“On campuses from coast to coast, there was soul searching about ways in which colleges might be unintentionally deterring prospective applicants. Were the applications themselves too laborious? Brown may give next year’s aspirants the option of submitting, in lieu of several essays, one haiku and one original recipe using organic kale.”
Thankfully, kale is an extremely versatile vegetable.
According to the Princeton Review, a college counselor should be a strategy consultant, coach, and cheerleader all rolled into one. I couldn’t agree more! Here are a few of their thoughts on why you need a college counselor and how your counselor fits into your overall application timeline.
Lower your college stress
Applications are stressful. 73% of respondents to the 2015 College Hopes & Worries survey gauged their stress levels as “high” or “very high.” Knowing that there are college experts in your corner can make all the difference. At The Princeton Review, our college counselors are available face-to-face whenever you have a question (or just need some encouragement).
Make a wish list
Talking with a college counselor about your dreams and goals can help you figure out what you really want out of college. Does your best-fit college run a popular co-operative education program? Are you looking for a politically active student body? Conversations with your counselor about what’s important to you in terms of academics, campus culture, and financial aid will help guide your overall college search.
Find and compare colleges
There are hundreds of colleges out there, and the right school for your unique personality and goals may be an Ivy League or it might be a school you haven’t heard of (yet!). College counselors are pros at helping you research schools and then narrowing your list to the colleges you should focus on.
Help you rise to the top
In a competitive applicant pool, a stellar college application is about more than just grades and SAT/ACT scores. Your college counselor will help you position the rest of your application to tell the story of who you are through your essays, extracurricular activities, and letters of recommendation. Counselors know which essay topics are overdone, how to make good use of supplementary materials, and how to explain an uncharacteristic bad grade to admissions committees.
Choose the right school for you
Your college counselors will help you craft your list of dream, match, and safety schools and craft the right application strategy for your college wishlist. And when those acceptances roll in, your counselors help you compare programs and financial aid packages so that you make the right decision for you.
No changes to the CA essay prompts for the upcoming admissions cycle; yay!
Most of my students disregard the prompt when thinking about their essay, but when it comes time to submit end up categorizing it as #1. See all five options below. Time for juniors to start brainstorming!
2016-2017 Essay Prompts
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.