New Common App essay prompts for 2013-14

Juniors — are you ready to start thinking about college essays yet?  The deadline may seem far away, but the earlier you start the brainstorming and writing process, the easier the essays will be.  In case you want to get a head start, the Common App has released five new essay prompts for the 2013-14 admissions season.

Not sure what the Common App is?  It’s a universal application that allows students to apply to multiple colleges at once. 488 colleges accept the Common App (a complete list of those colleges can be found here).

There are several big changes to the Common App this year:

  • A minimum word count of 250 words for the essay will be enforced.
  • The maximum word count has increased from 500 to 650 words.
  • Students will no longer be able to upload a resume unless a college specifically requests one.
  • The “topic of your choice” prompt has been eliminated.
  • There are five new essay prompts.

The five new essay prompts are:

  • Some 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.
  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act?  Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.  What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

What do you think of the Common App’s new essay prompts for 2013-14?  Do they stifle students’ creativity by eliminating the “topic of your choice”, or do they provide welcome direction and focus?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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