Time to Focus on that Last Standardized Test

A feeling we all know...

A feeling we all know . . . but the more you can keep it in perspective, the better!

If you're like a lot of seniors interested in competitive schools, you're probably planning on increasing your chances of getting in by applying early to your top-choice school.  And that means that you are probably hoping to increase your standardized test scores by taking them one last time this fall... Students typically see their biggest jump in the fall of their senior year, so definitely make sure you're registered, and start reviewing those practice tests if you took the summer off.

If you're unsure whether to take the ACT or SAT, know that more students are now taking the ACT each year than the SAT, and that trend is likely to continue. With significant changes planned for the SAT test, it makes sense for students to want to stick with the more predictable option. To learn more interesting statistics about the ACT and SAT, click here.

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Essay Questions Released for the 2015-2016 Season

Below is a list of all the schools that have been updated so far in College Essay Organizer for the 2015-2016 application season.

  1. John Fisher College
  2. Abilene Christian University
  3. Academy of Art University
  4. Adams State College
  5. Adelphi University
  6. Agnes Scott College
  7. Alaska Pacific University
  8. Albright College
  9. Alfred University
  10. Allegheny College
  11. Alma College
  12. American University
  13. American University of Paris
  14. Amherst College
  15. Appalachian State University
  16. Arcadia University
  17. Assumption College
  18. Augsburg College
  19. Augustana College (IL)
  20. Aurora University
  21. Austin Peay State University
  22. Babson College
  23. Ball State University
  24. Bard College
  25. Barnard College
  26. Baruch College of the City University of New York
  27. Bates College
  28. Beacon College
  29. Becker College
  30. Bellarmine University
  31. Belmont University
  32. Beloit College
  33. Bemidji State University
  34. Benedict College
  35. Bennington College
  36. Bentley University
  37. Berklee College of Music
  38. Berry College
  39. Birmingham-Southern College
  40. Bloomfield College
  41. Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
  42. Boise State University
  43. Boston College
  44. Boston University
  45. Bowdoin College
  46. Bowling Green State University
  47. Bradley University
  48. Brandeis University
  49. Brevard College
  50. Brooks Instiute
  51. Brown University
  52. Bryant University
  53. Bryn Mawr College
  54. Bucknell University
  55. Butler University
  56. Cabrini College
  57. California Institute of Technology
  58. California Lutheran University
  59. California Maritime Academy
  60. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
  61. California State University-Bakersfield
  62. California State University-Channel Islands
  63. California State University-Chico
  64. California State University-East Bay
  65. California State University-Fullerton
  66. California State University-Long Beach
  67. California State University-Los Angeles
  68. California State University-Monterey Bay
  69. California State University-Sacramento
  70. Calvin College
  71. Campbell University
  72. Canisius College
  73. Carleton College
  74. Carroll College
  75. Carroll University
  76. Case Western Reserve University
  77. Castelton State College
  78. Catholic University of America
  79. Cazenovia College
  80. Cedar Crest College
  81. Centenary College of Louisiana
  82. Central Michigan University
  83. Centre College
  84. Champlain College
  85. Chatham University
  86. Chicago State University
  87. Christian Brothers University in TN
  88. Citadel, The
  89. Claremont McKenna College
  90. Clark Atlanta University
  91. Clark University
  92. Clarkson University
  93. Clemson University
  94. Coastal Carolina University
  95. Coe College
  96. Colby College
  97. Colby-Sawyer College
  98. Colgate University
  99. College of Idaho
  100. College of New Jersey
  101. College of Saint Elizabeth
  102. College of St. Benedict
  103. College of St. Joseph
  104. College of St. Rose (NY)
  105. College of the Atlantic
  106. College of the Holy Cross
  107. College of the Ozarks
  108. College of Wooster
  109. Colorado College
  110. Colorado State University
  111. Columbia College Chicago
  112. Columbia University
  113. Columbus State University
  114. Concordia College
  115. Concordia University
  116. Concordia University (CA)
  117. Concordia University-Austin
  118. Connecticut College
  119. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
  120. Cornell College
  121. Cornell University
  122. Creighton University
  123. Curry College
  124. Curtis Institute of Music
  125. Daemen College
  126. Dallas Baptist University
  127. Dartmouth College
  128. Davidson College
  129. Delaware State University
  130. DePaul University
  131. DePauw University
  132. DeSales University
  133. Dickinson College
  134. Drew University
  135. Drexel University
  136. Drury University
  137. Duquesne University
  138. Earlham College
  139. East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
  140. East Tennessee State University
  141. Eastern Michigan University
  142. Eastern Washington University
  143. Eckerd College
  144. Elizabethtown College
  145. Elon University
  146. Emmanuel College
  147. Emory and Henry College
  148. Endicott College
  149. Erskine College
  150. Fairfield University
  151. Fairleigh Dickinson University
  152. Fashion Institute of Technology
  153. Fisk University
  154. Flagler College
  155. Florida Atlantic University
  156. Florida Institute of Technology
  157. Florida International University
  158. Florida State University
  159. Fordham University
  160. Fort Valley State University
  161. Franklin and Marshall College
  162. Franklin Pierce University
  163. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
  164. Frostburg State University
  165. Furman University
  166. Gannon University
  167. Georgetown University
  168. Georgia College and State University
  169. Georgia Institute of Technology
  170. Georgia Southern University
  171. Georgia State University
  172. Gettysburg College
  173. Gonzaga University
  174. Goshen College
  175. Goucher College
  176. Grinnell College
  177. Guilford College
  178. Hamilton College
  179. Hampshire College
  180. Hampton University
  181. Hanover College
  182. Hardin-Simmons University
  183. Harding University
  184. Hartwick College
  185. Harvard University
  186. Harvey Mudd College
  187. Hastings College
  188. Haverford College
  189. Hawaii Pacific University
  190. Hendrix College
  191. High Point University
  192. Hillsdale College
  193. Hiram College
  194. Hobart and William Smith Colleges
  195. Hollins University
  196. Hope College
  197. Houghton College
  198. Howard University
  199. Idaho State University
  200. Illinois Institute of Technology
  201. Illinois Wesleyan University
  202. Indiana University
  203. Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  204. Ithaca College
  205. James Madison University
  206. John Carroll University
  207. Johns Hopkins University
  208. Johnson University Florida
  209. Juniata College
  210. Kalamazoo College
  211. Kansas State University
  212. Kean University
  213. Kent State University
  214. Kenyon College
  215. King's College
  216. Knox College
  217. La Salle University
  218. Lafayette College
  219. Lake Forest College
  220. Lawrence University
  221. Le Moyne College
  222. Lehigh University
  223. Lewis & Clark College
  224. Linfield College
  225. Longwood University
  226. Louisiana State University
  227. Louisiana State University-Shreveport
  228. Louisiana Tech University
  229. Loyola Marymount University
  230. Loyola University Chicago
  231. Loyola University Maryland
  232. Loyola University New Orleans
  233. Luther College
  234. Lycoming College
  235. Lynchburg College
  236. Lyndon State College
  237. Lynn University
  238. Lyon College
  239. Macalester College
  240. Manhattan College
  241. Marist College
  242. Marlboro College
  243. Marquette University
  244. Marshall University
  245. Marymount Manhattan College
  246. Maryville College
  247. Maryville University of St. Louis
  248. Marywood University
  249. Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
  250. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
  251. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  252. McDaniel College
  253. McGill University
  254. Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York
  255. Menlo College
  256. Mercer University
  257. Mercyhurst College
  258. Merrimack College
  259. Messiah College
  260. Miami University (OH)
  261. Michigan State University
  262. Michigan Technological University
  263. MidAmerica Nazarene University
  264. Middlebury College
  265. Millikin University
  266. Mills College
  267. Millsaps College
  268. Milwaukee School of Engineering
  269. Mississippi College
  270. Mississippi State University
  271. Missouri University of Science and Technology
  272. Monmouth College
  273. Monmouth University
  274. Moravian College
  275. Morehouse College
  276. Morgan State University
  277. Mount Saint Mary College
  278. Mount Saint Mary's University
  279. Mount St. Mary's University (MD)
  280. Muhlenberg College
  281. Murray State University
  282. Muskingum University
  283. Nazareth College
  284. Nebraska Wesleyan University
  285. New College of Florida
  286. New England College
  287. New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology
  288. New Mexico State University
  289. New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York
  290. New York University
  291. Niagara University
  292. Nichols College
  293. Norfolk State University
  294. Northeastern University
  295. Northern Arizona University
  296. Northland College
  297. Northwestern University
  298. Notre Dame de Namur University
  299. Oberlin College
  300. Occidental College
  301. Ohio Northern University
  302. Ohio State University-Columbus
  303. Ohio University
  304. Ohio Wesleyan University
  305. Oklahoma State University
  306. Old Dominion University
  307. Olivet College
  308. Oregon Institute of Technology
  309. Oregon State University
  310. Pace University
  311. Pennsylvania State University-University Park
  312. Pepperdine University
  313. Philadelphia University
  314. Piedmont College
  315. Pine Manor College
  316. Pitzer College
  317. Point Park University
  318. Pomona College
  319. Portland State University
  320. Post University
  321. Prescott College
  322. Princeton University
  323. Providence College
  324. Purdue University-West Lafayette
  325. Queens University of Charlotte
  326. Quinnipiac University
  327. Radford University
  328. Randolph College
  329. Randolph-Macon College
  330. Regis College
  331. Regis University
  332. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  333. Rhode Island College
  334. Rhodes College
  335. Rice University
  336. Rider University
  337. Ringling College of Art & Design
  338. Ripon College
  339. Roanoke College
  340. Rochester Institute of Technology
  341. Rockland Community College
  342. Roger WIlliams University
  343. Rollins College
  344. Rosemont College
  345. Rowan University
  346. Russell Sage College
  347. Sacred Heart University
  348. Sage College of Albany
  349. Saint Anselm College
  350. Saint Francis University
  351. Saint Joseph's College of Maine
  352. Saint Leo University
  353. Saint Martin's University
  354. Saint Mary's College (CA)
  355. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
  356. Saint Michael's College
  357. Saint Vincent College
  358. Salem College
  359. Salisbury University
  360. Sam Houston State University
  361. San Diego State University
  362. San Francisco State University
  363. San Jose City College
  364. Santa Clara University
  365. Santa Fe Community College
  366. Santa Monica College
  367. Sarah Lawrence College
  368. Savannah State University
  369. Scripps College
  370. Seattle University
  371. Shenandoah University
  372. Shorter University
  373. Siena College
  374. Simmons College
  375. Skidmore College
  376. Smith College
  377. South Carolina State University
  378. South Dakota State University
  379. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
  380. Southern Methodist University
  381. Southern Nazarene University
  382. Southern University at New Orleans
  383. Southwestern University
  384. Spelman College
  385. Spring Hill College
  386. Springfield College
  387. Catherine University
  388. John's College (MD)
  389. Lawrence University
  390. Louis College of Pharmacy
  391. Mary's College
  392. Mary's College of Maryland
  393. Olaf College
  394. Petersburg College
  395. Thomas Aquinas College
  396. Stanford University
  397. State University of New York at Albany
  398. State University of New York at Binghamton
  399. State University of New York at Buffalo State College
  400. State University of New York at Cortland
  401. State University of New York at Fredonia
  402. State University of New York at Geneseo
  403. State University of New York at New Paltz
  404. State University of New York at Old Westbury
  405. State University of New York at Oneonta
  406. State University of New York at Oswego
  407. State University of New York at Plattsburgh
  408. State University of New York at Potsdam
  409. State University of New York at Purchase
  410. State University of New York at Stony Brook
  411. State University of New York-College at Brockport
  412. State University of New York-University at Buffalo
  413. Stephens College
  414. Sterling College
  415. Stetson University
  416. Stevens Institute of Technology
  417. Stockton University
  418. Stonehill College
  419. Suffolk University
  420. Susquehanna University
  421. Swarthmore College
  422. Syracuse University
  423. Temple University
  424. Texas Christian University
  425. Texas State University
  426. Texas Tech University
  427. Thomas College
  428. Towson University
  429. Transylvania University
  430. Trine University
  431. Troy University
  432. Truman State University
  433. Tufts University
  434. Tulane University
  435. Tusculum College
  436. Tuskegee University
  437. Union College
  438. United States Air Force Academy
  439. United States Merchant Marine Academy
  440. United States Naval Academy
  441. Unity College
  442. University of Alabama
  443. University of Alabama-Huntsville
  444. University of Alaska-Southeast
  445. University of Arizona
  446. University of Arkansas
  447. University of Bridgeport
  448. University of California-Berkeley
  449. University of California-Davis
  450. University of California-Irvine
  451. University of California-Los Angeles
  452. University of California-Merced
  453. University of California-Riverside
  454. University of California-San Diego
  455. University of California-Santa Barbara
  456. University of California-Santa Cruz
  457. University of Central Florida
  458. University of Chicago
  459. University of Colorado at Colorado Springs
  460. University of Colorado-Boulder
  461. University of Connecticut
  462. University of Dallas
  463. University of Dayton
  464. University of Denver
  465. University of Evansville
  466. University of Findlay
  467. University of Florida
  468. University of Georgia
  469. University of Great Falls
  470. University of Hartford
  471. University of Houston
  472. University of Idaho
  473. University of Illinois-Chicago
  474. University of Iowa
  475. University of Kansas
  476. University of La Verne
  477. University of Maine-Farmington
  478. University of Maine-Orono
  479. University of Mary
  480. University of Mary Washington
  481. University of Maryland-College Park
  482. University of Maryland-University College
  483. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
  484. University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  485. University of Massachusetts-Boston
  486. University of Massachusetts-Lowell
  487. University of Miami
  488. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
  489. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  490. University of Mississippi
  491. University of Missouri-Columbia
  492. University of Montevallo
  493. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  494. University of Nebraska-Omaha
  495. University of New England
  496. University of New Hampshire
  497. University of New Haven
  498. University of New Orleans
  499. University of North Carolina-Asheville
  500. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
  501. University of North Carolina-Charlotte
  502. University of North Carolina-Wilmington
  503. University of North Dakota
  504. University of North Florida
  505. University of North Georgia
  506. University of North Texas
  507. University of Northern Colorado
  508. University of Notre Dame
  509. University of Oregon
  510. University of Pennsylvania
  511. University of Pittsburgh
  512. University of Portland
  513. University of Puget Sound
  514. University of Redlands
  515. University of Rhode Island
  516. University of Richmond
  517. University of Rochester
  518. University of San Diego
  519. University of San Francisco
  520. University of Saskatchewan
  521. University of Scranton
  522. University of South Carolina-Columbia
  523. University of South Dakota
  524. University of South Florida
  525. University of Southern California
  526. University of St. Andrews
  527. University of St. Thomas
  528. University of Tampa
  529. University of Tennessee
  530. University of Texas-Arlington
  531. University of Texas-Austin
  532. University of Texas-Dallas
  533. University of the Pacific
  534. University of the Sciences
  535. University of Toronto
  536. University of Tulsa
  537. University of Vermont
  538. University of Victoria
  539. University of Virginia
  540. University of Western Ontario
  541. University of Wyoming
  542. Ursinus College
  543. Utica College
  544. Valdosta State University
  545. Valparaiso University
  546. Vanderbilt University
  547. Vassar College
  548. Villanova University
  549. Virginia Commonwealth University
  550. Virginia Tech
  551. Virginia Wesleyan College
  552. Wabash College
  553. Wagner College
  554. Wake Forest University
  555. Warren Wilson College
  556. Wartburg College
  557. Washington and Jefferson College
  558. Washington and Lee University
  559. Washington College
  560. Washington State University
  561. Washington University in St. Louis
  562. Webb Institute
  563. Wellesley College
  564. Wells College
  565. Wentworth Institute of Technology
  566. Wentworth Military Academy and College
  567. Wesleyan College
  568. Wesleyan University
  569. West Virginia University
  570. Western Carolina University
  571. Western Connecticut State University
  572. Western Michigan University
  573. Western New England University
  574. Westminster College (MO)
  575. Westminster College (PA)
  576. Westminster College of Salt Lake City
  577. Westmont College
  578. Wheaton College
  579. Whitman College
  580. Whittier College
  581. Widener University
  582. Willamette University
  583. William Jewell College
  584. William Paterson University
  585. Williams College
  586. Wingate University
  587. Winona State University (MN)
  588. Wittenberg University
  589. Wofford College
  590. Woodbury University
  591. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  592. Wright State University
  593. Xavier University (OH)
  594. Xavier University of Louisiana
  595. Yale University
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Interview with Dan Stern on College Admissions Toolbox

As students brace themselves for the mad scramble of the college admissions season, it's always helpful to have all the craziness put into perspective by a true expert in the field. Tune into this interview with Founder and President of College Essay Organizer Dan Stern on collegeadmissionstoolbox.com which brings sanity to the college admissions process and more importantly, to the college essay which brings the most anxiety to the application process. As Dan says, "Make it fun! You're applying to college, not prison!"

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Essay Questions Released for the 2015-2016 Season

Below is a list of all the schools that have been updated so far in College Essay Organizer for the 2015-2016 application season.

Academy of Art University
Adams State College
Amherst College
Aurora University
Austin Peay State University
Beacon College
Becker College
Bemidji State University
Berklee College of Music
Boise State University
Boston College
Brooks Instiute
Bucknell University
Butler University
California Maritime Academy
California State University-Bakersfield
California State University-Channel Islands
California State University-Chico
California State University-East Bay
California State University-Fullerton
California State University-Long Beach
California State University-Los Angeles
California State University-Monterey Bay
California State University-Sacramento
Central Michigan University
Coastal Carolina University
Concordia College
East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania
East Tennessee State University
Eastern Washington University
Elon University
Florida International University
Florida State University
Fort Valley State University
Georgetown University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Harding University
Hastings College
Idaho State University
Indiana University
Kansas State University
Kent State University
Louisiana State University
Louisiana Tech University
Louisiana State University-Shreveport
Marywood University
Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
Michigan State University
MidAmerica Nazarene University
Middlebury College
Millikin University
Millsaps College
Milwaukee School of Engineering
Mississippi College
Mount Saint Mary College
Murray State University
Nebraska Wesleyan University
New England College
New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology
New Mexico State University
New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York
Nichols College
Norfolk State University
Notre Dame de Namur University
Ohio State University-Columbus
Ohio Wesleyan University
Oklahoma State University
Olivet College
Oregon Institute of Technology
Pine Manor College
Portland State University
Princeton University
Randolph-Macon College
Regis University
Rider University
Ripon College
Rockland Community College
Rosemont College
Saint Francis University
Saint Joseph's College of Maine
Saint Leo University
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
San Francisco State University
San Jose City College
Santa Fe Community College
Santa Monica College
Savannah State University
Shorter University
South Carolina State University
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
Southern Nazarene University
Southern University at New Orleans
Southwestern University
Spring Hill College
Springfield College
St. Catherine University
St. John Fisher College
St. Petersburg College
Stephens College
Trine University
Troy University
Tufts University
Tusculum College
Tuskegee University
United States Air Force Academy
University of Alabama
University of Alaska-Southeast
University of Arkansas
University of California-Berkeley
University of California-Davis
University of California-Irvine
University of California-Los Angeles
University of California-Merced
University of California-Riverside
University of California-San Diego
University of California-Santa Barbara
University of California-Santa Cruz
University of Central Florida
University of Colorado-Boulder
University of Dayton
University of Florida
University of Georgia
University of Mary
University of Maryland-University College
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
University of Mississippi
University of Montevallo
University of Nebraska-Omaha
University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina-Charlotte
University of North Dakota
University of Northern Colorado
University of Pennsylvania
University of Richmond
University of Saskatchewan
University of Toronto
University of Victoria
University of Virginia
University of Western Ontario
Villanova University
Wake Forest University
Webb Institute
Wellesley College
Wentworth Military Academy and College
Widener University
Winona State University (MN)
Wright State University
Yale University

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Colleges Make the Common App Essay Optional for 2015-2016 Season

cropped-ca-logo4-e1393203803100The Common App is well known for allowing students to apply to several hundred schools using one application and requiring one main essay. While the more competitive schools include supplemental essays in order to apply, there are other schools where the admissions officers prefer applicants to not have to write any essay at all, and the Common App has given colleges this very option for the 2015-2016 season, encouraging additional schools to join.

For more information and an unofficial list of Common App schools that will not be requiring an essay this season, please check out this article by Nancy Griesemer.

Make sure to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter to get our updates on which schools will not be requiring the Common App main essay.

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Oklahoma State, Yale, and Others Release 2015-2016 Essay Questions

Oklahoma State, Yale University, Princeton, and others continue to post their essay questions for the 2015-2016 season helping students jump-start the essay-writing process. Summer is definitely the best time to start before the fall frenzyosu gets underway. If you are looking for the most creative essay prompt to get you started, Oklahoma State is sure not to disappoint. Here's a sneak peek at their prompts:

A) “If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging,” a cowboy proverb says. Describe a time you had to “stop digging” in order to solve a problem. How did this help you assess the situation and develop a solution?

B) Imagine you have the chance to spend one hour shadowing a person in your dream job. What would you do to prepare for this experience? What two questions would you ask during your time together?

C) “Leadership is a series of behaviors rather than a role for heroes,” Margaret J. Wheatley said. What behaviors define your leadership style? Describe a time you behaved like a leader. What impact did your actions have on yourself and others?

D) If you had a secret superhero identity, what would it be? Describe a superhero alter-ego of your own creation, including your superpowers and how you got them.

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Georgetown University 2015-2016 Essay Questions Available in College Essay Organizer

gtownGeorgetown University, a non-Common App school, can only be applied to through its school application which recently went live for the 2015-2016 application season. It has a two-part application process, which requires students to first submit Part 1 of the application along with a payment of $75 before moving on to Part 2 and accessing the essay questions.

Students who aren't sure about whether or not they want to apply to Georgetown or educational consultants who need the questions early can view the essay requirements by logging into their College Essay Organizer accounts here.


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UNC, UChicago, & UMich Begin Releasing 2015-2016 Essay Questions!

The new college application season has officially begun with University of Chicago, University of North Carolina, and University of Michigan leading the way with their release of essay questions for the 2015-2016 season. University of Chicago, known for its thought-provoking and quirky questions, did not disappoint us. See this season's options to choose from below. They will be sure to get you into the essay-writing spirit!

Essay Option 1.

Orange is the new black, fifty’s the new thirty, comedy is the new rock ‘n’ roll, ____ is the new ____. What’s in, what’s out, and why is it being replaced?
—Inspired by Payton Weidenbacher, Class of 2015

Essay Option 2.

“I learned to make my mind large, as the universe is large, so that there is room for paradoxes.” –Maxine Hong Kingston. What paradoxes do you live with?
—Inspired by Danna Shen, Class of 2019

Essay Option 3.

Joan of Arkansas. Queen Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Babe Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Mash up a historical figure with a new time period, environment, location, or occupation, and tell us their story.
—Inspired by Drew Donaldson, Class of 2016

Essay Option 4.

“Art is either plagiarism or revolution.” –Paul Gauguin. What is your “art”? Is it plagiarism or revolution?
—Inspired by Kaitlyn Shen, Class of 2018.

Essay Option 5.

Rerhceseras say it’s siltl plisbsoe to raed txet wtih olny the frist and lsat ltteres in palce. This is beaucse the hamun mnid can fnid oderr in dorsdier. Give us your best example of finding order in disorder. (For your reader’s sake, please use full sentences with conventional spelling).
—Also inspired by Payton Weidenbacher, Class of 2015. Payton is extra-inspirational this year!

Essay Option 6.

In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose a question of your own. If your prompt is original and thoughtful, then you should have little trouble writing a great essay. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.

Essay Option 7.

In the spirit of historically adventurous inquiry, to celebrate the University of Chicago’s 125th anniversary, please feel free to select from any of our past essay questions.

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Common App Essay Questions Released for 2015-2016 Season

cropped-ca-logo4-e1393203803100True to its word, the Common App released its new essay questions for 2015-2016 on March 31. While the length will remain 250-650 words, the questions themselves have been revised. Posted to its blog here, the changes are based on survey research the Common App performed. Thanks to 5,667 responses, including feedback from 110 Member colleges, the Common App made revisions to two prompts and eliminated the following prompt:

Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

Member Colleges will now have the option to not require their applicants to complete the Common App main essay, though we suspect that few, if any, will opt out of the essay requirement. It seems more in keeping with the Common App's goal of giving more control to member colleges, which can choose their applicant requirements.

Here are the new questions with the changes in italics for those juniors who want to get a head start:

  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.

Happy brainstorming!


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Keeping College Admissions in Perspective


Don't let rejection get the best of you.

As college decision time rolls around, it’s important to keep things in perspective, and two inspiring articles published by the New York Times (click here and here) help do just that. You don’t have to look far to find the college mania surrounding many of us, but while students and parents can easily get swept along, it’s important to remember the bigger picture. In his recently published book “Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania,” Frank Bruni takes real life examples of talented, driven students who experienced a series of intense rejections during the admissions process but ultimately achieved their goals.

Not only did these students continue to move forward, they felt the rejections even helped them to succeed down the road. According to one student, “I never would have had the strength, drive or fearlessness to take such a risk if I hadn’t been rejected so intensely before. There’s a beauty to that kind of rejection, because it allows you to find the strength within.” It may sound cliche, but hearing from students who actually thrived in the face of rejection brings the point home.

Another student who attended Indiana University also turned his initial disappointment into success, and it ultimately turned out to be a door opener in so many ways: “He got into an honors program for undergraduate business majors. He became vice president of a business fraternity on campus. He cobbled together the capital to start a tiny real estate enterprise that fixed up and rented small houses to fellow students. And he finagled a way, off campus, to interview with several of the top-drawer consulting firms that trawled for recruits at the Ivies but often bypassed schools like Indiana. Upon graduation, he took a plum job in the Chicago office of the Boston Consulting Group, where he recognized one of the other new hires: the friend from New Trier who’d gone to Yale. Traveling a more gilded path, she’d arrived at the same destination. He later decided to get a master’s degree in business administration, and that’s where he is now, in graduate school — at Harvard.”

However your college admissions experience turns out, keep in mind that it’s your grit, hard work, and positive outlook that will ultimately get you where you want to be. You may not always control the scenery, but you are still the driver!

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