The Common App for 2011/2012 is Live

That's right. The wait is over.

The Common App went live yesterday officially beginning the application process for the class of 2016. The Common App, now totaling 456 schools, has added 45 new members this year, including Caldwell College, Howard University, and St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

College Essay Organizer is now in the thick of the updating process, keeping track of all the new changes and supplemental essay questions for you. Expect hundreds of updates by the end of the week!

We continue to receive feedback on how College Essay Organizer is the perfect partner for using the Common App. It instantly delivers not only the supplemental essay questions, but also the department-specific questions and scholarship questions, which are often not included in the Common App. Check here for some great tips on how to use College Essay Organizer and the Common App to write winning essays.

As the Moment Approaches, Remember to Keep a Positive Outlook

Keep a positive outlook!

As the date approaches for you to finally receive a decision from colleges after months, perhaps years for some (especially parents), of waiting, many will have pearls of wisdom to share with you both before and after one of the tensest moments of your life.

Of course we have our own opinions on how important it is to maintain a positive outlook and remember to see the bigger picture. After all, what you will walk away with from your college experience, wherever you end up going, is really about what you put into it.

Our own acumen aside, perhaps the best (and most entertaining) counsel we’ve heard, is a letter addressed to seniors written by Mitch Albom, writer for McClatchy-Tribune Information Services. Check it out. You won’t regret it, and you might even have a few laughs! Nothing like bringing humor into a situation to keep things in perspective.

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College Admissions Counselors Are Overwhelmed

The Fall 2010 Journal of College Admission features an insightful editorial by Robert Bardwell describing the difficulties guidance counselors face today. As the number of college applications balloons nationwide, guidance counselors are able to budget less and less time to students in one-on-one environments. Mandated testing and paperwork, in conjunction with insufficient training and education, make the job more complicated and time-consuming than ever.

Another often-overlooked element of the job cited in Bardwell's article is that for many low-income and first-generation students, guidance counselors are the only source of college admissions counseling. For these students especially, one-on-one time is vital.

We at CEO see our website as an essential part of making the college admissions process more efficient, not only for students, but for counselors as well. CEO's new master account service makes it easy for guidance counselors to keep all of their students' requirements accessible from within a single account, and makes it possible to continually update that information when students' plans change.

One of the most pressing concerns for guidance counselors as their responsibilities grow (but their time available does not) is that statistics have proven that very high student-to-counselor ratios negatively affect the access students have to college advising, which can only hurt their chances at finding a school that optimally suits them. We at CEO aim to be a driving force in creating more time for counselors to do what they do best - serve students.

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.

Save Time On College Essays And Applications With College Essay Organizer

50% off all Essay QuickFinder and Essay RoadMap

accounts for individuals during the month of December!

Simply enter the promo code senior9 when you purchase your account.

Many students think that by using the Common Application, they only need to write two essays. But in addition to the Common Application’s basic essays, most schools require multiple supplemental admission essays. Some applicants have never even heard of supplemental essays – which can make for a pretty rude awakening as deadlines approach.

The facts:

  • Submitting 7 college applications often requires more than 15 different admission essays.
  • Just finding and organizing your college essay questions can take several hours.
  • Many admission questions are hard to find, and some are not even located on the Common Application, especially the program-specific and scholarship questions.

CEO provides your essay questions in one place, instantly. We save you hours of work, keep you organized, and make sure you never overlook any essay questions.

We've put together a page explaining what Common App supplements are, and have provided a few examples of colleges that have them. For example, Yale has 2 required supplemental essays along with 5 short-answer essays. Some schools that have gone completely overboard: NYU has 3 required essays and as many as 27 program-specific essays.

With our FREE Essay RoadMap Preview page, you can discover how many essays your schools require.


Ready to get started? Click here to get your essay questions now for as little as $2!

Use the promo code senior9 for a 50% discount this month only!



Using CEO to Find Scholarships And Departments For College

One of the hidden benefits (which we've tried here on CEO blog to keep not-so-hidden) is that the Essay QuickFinder and Essay RoadMap tools will help you find department-specific and scholarship essays you didn't even know existed.

If we take a look at this simple example, the Essay RoadMap finds 9 requirements that can be answered with just 3 pieces of writing. But if you read on, you'll see that even this small selection of colleges brings with it 49 departmental and scholarship essay prompts. 49! And almost none of these questions appear on the Common App.

Searching For Free Money With CEO

Seeing these prompts will doubtlessly set you off towards programs and, in many cases, opportunities for free money that you might have overlooked.

How to Write Fewer Essays for College with CEO's Essay RoadMap

CEO's Essay RoadMap is designed to take any list of universities and find the fewest number of essays that can satisfy all your requirements. We've cooked up a sample here for you to see just how much work it can save you.

Twelve turns into Four!

The schools that appear in the checklist below have 12 required questions among them, and CEO's Essay RoadMap shows you how to answer those 12 questions using just 4 pieces of original writing.

It's also worth noting that there are 19 (count them!) optional, department-specific, and special applicant questions that may or may not apply to every applicant. These can include specific programs within the universities, scholarships, or certain majors that have their own application requirements. These questions are rarely located on the Common App and take hours to locate on the schools' own applications (if you even know to look for them).

The Essay RoadMap is flexible, too. Each check box next to a school's name can be deselected and the RoadMap can be regenerated using the modified list of schools.

Try it yourself with our free Essay RoadMap preview tool!

What to Avoid in Your Application Essays

Yesterday we touched on some basic tips for improving your writing and making a lasting impression on over-worked admissions officers. Today we'd like to flip the script a bit and show you what not to do in your application essays.

These errors are all too common, and they're the kinds of things that can sink an application for good. Letting yourself be sloppy, cliched, repetitive, or negative won't just make your essays forgettable, they can even actively work against you, ruining whatever goodwill the rest of your application has engendered with the person reading it.

So without further adieu, make sure you never make these common mistakes:

  • Don't litter your essay with quotes from others
  • Don't go thesaurus-happy
  • Don't generalize or stereotype
  • Don’t use profanity or crass humor
  • Don't use stuffy language

Take a look at our more comprehensive list of writing styles to avoid and see what other kinds of common errors you can be sure to look out for.

CEO's Essay Requirement Updating Rolls On

We're hard at work here at CEO keeping all the essay requirements current for each school in our extensive database. Each Friday, we send an email out to our current members to let them know which schools have been updated for the coming year, as well as to update them on key admissions data such as application deadlines, SAT and ACT ranges of accepted students, and class rank percentiles for the most recent class to enroll.

As an example, here's the list of those added just this week, putting our list of updated schools at well over 430!

  1. Colby College
  2. Columbia College Chicago
  3. Davidson College
  4. Earlham College
  5. Eugene Lang College
  6. Fairfield University
  7. Fairleigh Dickinson University
  8. Long Island University/C.W. Post Campus
  9. Marist College
  10. Mercer University
  11. Michigan State University
  12. Montana State University-Bozeman
  13. Mount St. Mary's College
  14. New Mexico State University
  15. Northeastern University
  16. Northwestern University
  17. Occidental College
  18. Oglethorpe University
  19. Ohio State University-Columbus
  20. Ohio University
  21. Old Dominion University
  22. Pennsylvania State University-University Park
  23. Philadelphia University
  24. Plymouth State University
  25. Ramapo College of New Jersey
  26. Ringling College of Art & Design
  27. Rollins College
  28. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
  29. Rutgers-New Brunswick
  30. Rutgers-Newark
  31. Seattle Pacific University
  32. Skidmore College
  33. St. Bonaventure University
  34. St. Catherine University
  35. St. John's College (MD)
  36. St. John's College (NM)
  37. Stonehill College
  38. Transylvania University
  39. Tulane University
  40. University of New Haven
  41. University of Pennsylvania
  42. Wheaton College (MA)
  43. Xavier University (OH)

By using our Essay RoadMap preview page you can see all the schools we've updated so far for 2011. Any college without an asterisk has been updated - and while you're at it, you can see first-hand the potential of what CEO can do for you.

The updating process continues in earnest this weekend, with another large push coming in the early parts of September. Stay tuned.

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.