The Common App is Live: Tips for the 2016-2017 Season

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The Common App went live around 8:00pm on July 31, giving rising seniors a head start on the August 1 projected launch time. And it's a good thing students have those extra hours, as once again, the Common App is likely to mislead students who expect the essay questions for any given college to appear on the Writing Requirements section of a college's supplement. While the Common App will often say that there are essay questions, other times it will indicate nothing, leading applicants to believe there are no essay questions associated with a school.

Stanford is a great example of this. The top-ranked university has 7 short-take essay questions and 3 medium-length essay questions, all of which actually appear on the Questions page (where typically the college lists standard questions about academic interests and your biographical data), so make sure to go through each page and answer every question on the supplement so as not to miss anything. Also note that some questions--often called stealth questions for good reason--only appear when you've selected a particular program or major.

And that's only the beginning. As usual, there are hundreds of program-specific, special applicant and scholarship essay questions that don't appear on the supplements at all and aren't even mentioned there. Take New York University and University of Southern California as examples. You just have to know they exist and find them on your own (hint: clear several hours unless you use College Essay Organizer!).

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New York University Has 27 Additional Essay Questions

nyuNew York University had a record year with more than 60,000 students applying this past season, and approximately 2,500 students applied early. If you are one of the thousands applying early this year, definitely check out your Essay RoadMap to confirm that there are no additional program-specific essay questions that you may have overlooked. Each year, we have several students emailing us post-deadline saying that they wished they would have checked the non-required questions as they had missed a key essay.

While NYU has one required supplemental essay, there are 27 additional program-specific essay questions that are not easily found! Here is a list of several programs that you'll need to submit an additional essay for:

Dental Hygiene Program
Drama Directing program
Drama Production & Design program
Gallatin School of Individualized Study
Music Education Program
Steinhardt’s Music Business Program
Steinhardt’s Music Technology Program
Steinhardt’s Studio Art Program
Tisch Cinema Studies program
Tisch Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music
Tisch Dramatic Writing Program
Tisch Game Design Program
Tisch Kanbar Institute of Film and Television
Tisch Photography and Imaging

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Early Applicant Notification Dates Extended

While most schools are continuing to stick with mid-December as a notification date for early applicants, some schools such as New York University and Princeton have a delayed notification date of December 18, giving them a bit of extra time to make up for Hurricane Sandy-induced extended early application due dates. This late announcement gives procrastinating students even less time to turn around their other applications by the January 1 deadline if they're not accepted early. Definitely be one of those students who doesn't wait till the last minute, but is prepared to face the worst-case scenario in advance.



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2012-2013 Essay Questions for Columbia, Pepperdine, Kenyon and More

More and more schools are releasing their Common App supplements, and College Essay Organizer is updating all of them. Columbia University just posted its questions, as did Pepperdine University and Kenyon College. One of our favorite Pepperdine questions from last year was taken out ("Please finish the following sentence: The Admission Committee members would laugh if they knew I..."), but the replacement was equally thought-provoking: "If you were to write a book about your life, what would be the title?"

Kenyon also had a creative new set of essay prompts, with our favorite being:

“From now on, I'll connect the dots my own way," says Calvin in the comic strip "Calvin and Hobbes" by Bill Watterson '80. What is "your way" of making sense of things? Are there dots you hope to connect?

We also updated some schools with lots of scholarship and program-specific questions including New York University (3 required questions, 1 optional question, and 18 program-specific questions), Uuniversity of Texas-Austin (1 required question, 1 optional question, and 12 program-specific questions), and University of Southern California (2 required questions and 28 program-specific questions).

 

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Lake Forest College Scholarship Applications - Essays Aplenty

Lake Forest College in Lake Forest, Illinois, has a reasonable amount of essay requirements for its basic application - 4 on their own college application, or 2 supplements if you're using the Common Application.

But I'd bet you didn't know they have 23 scholarship application essays. Allow us to repeat: that's 23 additional essays.

Schools like Lake Forest are not uncommon. CEO's database is full of schools that have four or five basic requirements for admission, but more than ten optional, department-specific, and scholarship essays that come along with the regular application work load.

The University of Puget Sound's admission office steps it up with 22 department-specific and scholarship essays.

The University of Kentucky admission office doesn't mess around either - 16 department-specfic and scholarship essays.

But at CEO, we want you to look at this as a benefit rather than a problem. We do the work for you of searching for and organizing your essay requirements. One of the great perks of CEO is that we turn you on to departments and scholarship money you didn't even know existed.

So when you're using your Essay RoadMap and you see a surprisingly big number of total essays (hello, anyone applying to NYU), just know that we've pointed the way toward some great opportunities.

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The Bergen Record Features CEO's President Daniel Stern

Daniel Stern, President of College Essay Organizer

Our President and CEO Daniel Stern was featured in the Bergen Record (in New Jersey) yesterday talking about the Common App and the many misconceptions students and counselors have about it.

Dan spoke about the surprising number of essays students face after they've completed their required Common App essays - namely the many supplemental, department-specific, and scholarship questions that pop up for any student applying to multiple colleges.

On top of that, he spoke about the importance of understanding the prompt. When a college asks you why you're interested, remember that it's not advisable to just repeat the guidebook back to them. They know you want to be there - that's why you're applying. What they really want to learn about is you and what you're going to bring to the campus.

Above all, Dan talked about what we're all about here at CEO - simplifying the essay and application process in easy and inexpensive ways so that you can focus your time on your best writing without spreading yourself too thin.

Make sure that you know ahead of time how many essays your colleges require so you don't have any rude surprises in the fall. Getting out ahead of things now will make the rest of the way smooth sailing for sure.

New York University Sets a Common App Record With 30 Essays

If you had a flag for every essay... That'd be thirty flags.

30? You read that right. The powers that be at New York University have so specifically divided the school that there are now 30 essays for undergrads to consider waiting in our database. 30!

To the school's credit, no undergraduate applicant will have to write thirty individual essays when applying to NYU. The numerous essays mostly belong to specific departments, like the Tisch School of the Arts or the Silver School of Social work - all told, the Violet Bobcats of NYU have essays for programs in Film, Photography, Music Business, you name it. They even have a new satellite school in Abu Dhabi. While no applicant will have to address them all, each applicant will have to write several essays, regardless of which school within the university he or she chooses.

It just goes to show that the breadth and reach of schools like NYU should not be underestimated, and that with tools like CEO you can get a shortcut to those requirements, and in turn, see the opportunities that schools of such great diversity offer.

So keep in mind that the big schools often pose as many challenges in their applications as they do in their classes! It's all benefits in the long run, but managing the task from the get-go can be daunting. Make sure you have the right tools to guide you on your journey.

And while you're at it, make sure you're not just avoiding questions like this guy.

New York Times Writes About the Common Application

Cree Bautista! Congratulations, you're on CEO blog! Weird, right?

This new article in the New York Times' Education section talks about unlikely hero to college applicants everywhere, Cree Bautista. Mr. Bautista saw fit to apply to NYU just a few hours after the Common App went live at the beginning of this month, and in so doing became the first applicant of the year through the site.

Cree's eagerness, though exceptional in degree, isn't uncommon in practice. The Common App's directors have already started talking about the speed of this year's applicant pool, and the sheer number of applications students are managing. From the Times' article:

"Rob Killion, executive director of the Common Application, said he was particularly unnerved by the flood of early submissions through the organization's website because he feared that students were rushing their essays. (This year’s Common Application was actually posted several weeks later than last year’s — not as a prod to get applicants to file later, but instead to allow high schools extra time to send final documents before the new year begins.)"

Remember, your top choice is not your only choice! There are many applications to be managed, and sites like CEO are here to get that work out in front of you and help you keep it under control from the get-go. While we can't all be like Cree, we can all save ourselves from those last-minute crushes of papers and apps.