The list of schools using the Common App has grown steadily over the years, with new members joining every admissions season. The 2013-2014 admissions season will see 39 additional colleges using the application, bringing the total number of Common App users to 527.
Member schools make up a diverse group of colleges representing 47 states including Hawaii, and include 16 international members from 7 countries outside the United States, 81 public institutions, and 7 historically black colleges and universities. Here is a complete list of new members for the coming season:
American International College
California College of the Arts
Central Connecticut State University
Chicago State University
George Fox University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgian Court University
Hawai'i Pacific University
King's College London (UK)
Mary Baldwin College
Modul University Vienna (Austria)
Pine Manor College
Saint Joseph's College (IN)
St. John's University
Trinity Christian College
University of Aberdeen (UK)
University of Birmingham, England (UK)
University of Bristol (UK)
University of Cincinnati
University of Colorado Boulder
University of Maine at Presque Isle
University of New Hampshire Manchester
University of North Carolina
Greensboro University of Oklahoma
Virginia Commonwealth University
William Paterson University of NJ
William Peace University
As parents watch their kids go through the college admissions process, the question often comes up as to how much they should be involved in their children's lives. Here's an article that may allow parents to feel less guilty when they step back and let their kids start to make more of their own decisions. According to parenting writer Bonnie Rochman, helicopter parents are doing their children a disservice: "Helicopter parenting decreased adult children’s feelings of autonomy, competence and connection. In turn, feeling incompetent led to increased reports of feeling depressed and dissatisfied."
While it is important for parents to be involved in their children's lives, parents must slowly begin to take a step back as their children near adulthood. This can mean less stress for guilt-ridden parents as well: "Perhaps by choosing to watch Downton Abbey reruns instead of playing Candyland with a tot or editing college essays for a high-schooler, they’re actually building their offspring’s independence and confidence."
Surveys have shown us that one of the hardest parts of writing the college essay is getting started. As juniors begin the process of trying to brainstorm for their upcoming college essays, this article by Philip Lopate, author and director of the graduate nonfiction program at Columbia University, may give students helpful tips on how to overcome their writer's block and get their creative juices flowing. Lopate understands how most writers including himself lack self assurance when it comes to writing, but he is able to turn this into a strength: "Whether writing essays or just going about daily life, I am constantly second-guessing myself...Strangely enough, doubt need not impede action. If you really become friends with your doubt, you can go ahead and take risks, knowing you will be questioning yourself at every turn, no matter what. It is part of living, a healthy evolutionary adaptation, I would imagine. The mistake is in trying to tune out your doubts. Accept them as a necessary (or at least unavoidable) soundtrack."
Especially when writing, the realization that one will most likely make mistakes is a helpful one. As Lopate puts it, "I have found the exercise of doubt to be an enormous help in writing essays, because it lets me start out with the knowledge that I may very well not achieve perfection on the page. Then I can forgive myself in advance for falling short of the mark, and get on with it." The ability to allow your thoughts to tumble onto the page without judgment is a key step in the process of writing an essay that reveals who you really are.
As juniors begin to focus more on their college search, planning trips to colleges for their upcoming spring break, this video interview with Eric Furda, dean of admissions at University of Pennsylvania and board member of the Common App, may prove helpful. He provides useful information for those new to the process, touching upon the following topics:
- What's the best attitude to have when visiting a college?
- How important is the college essay?
- How many recommendations do you need to impress a college?
- Is it better to have an 'A' in a regular course or a 'B' in an AP course?
Stressed spelled backwards spells desserts, and we usually think of them as equally bad for you. However, new research may indicate otherwise. An article in the The New York Times Magazine examined recent research on stress, and found that if students framed it in a positive way, it may actually benefit their performance:
"Before taking a practice test, the students read a short note explaining that the study’s purpose was to examine the effects of stress on cognition. Half of the students, however, were also given a statement declaring that recent research suggests 'people who feel anxious during a test might actually do better.' Therefore, if the students felt anxious during the practice test, it said, 'you shouldn’t feel concerned. . . simply remind yourself that your arousal could be helping you do well.' Just reading this statement significantly improved students’ performance. They scored 50 points higher in the quantitative section (out of a possible 800) than the control group on the practice test."
Jeremy Jamieson, assistant professor of social psychology at the University of Rochester, would like to see stress re-defined: “When people say, ‘I’m stressed out,’ it means, ‘I’m not doing well.’ It doesn’t mean, ‘I’m excited — I have increased oxygenated blood going to my brain. ” For juniors studying to take their SAT and ACT, this could be revolutionary, though it doesn't replace the value gained by planning ahead and studying.
The Common App has just released its new essay prompts for the 2013-2014 admissions season. While some have criticized the Common App for removing the "topic of your choice" option, the new essay topics offer a great amount of flexibility in terms of what topic to focus on. The questions are as follows:
- 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.
In addition, the Common App is increasing the length of essays to a maximum of 650 words, and it will not accept submissions over that limit or less than 250 words. Hopefully, juniors will take advantage of the early announcement of these prompts in order to create their College Essay Organizer account for next year and get started brainstorming topics.