New Common App Updates For 2011/2012

The Common App has gone live for the new application season and we are doing the necessary legwork to confirm all currently available requirements, including optional, departmental, and scholarship ones.

Though the Common App has updated, not all schools that accept the Common App have currently released their supplements, so over the next few weeks, you will notice that the number of schools that are current for the new year will be increasing each day.

We appreciate the positive feedback we've been getting from our users this year! There have been a lot of great accounts of how College Essay Organizer has helped students, counselors, and parents in the admissions process, and we're always glad to hear them. Keep them coming!

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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.

Great Feedback For College Essay Organizer on Mobile Devices

College Essay OrganizerA College Essay Organizer user from last year recently wrote in to point out the usefulness of CEO, not only in its traditional form, but also on iPhones and iPads. College Essay Organizer's easy-to-use tools can be accessed on all kinds of formats, which can be especially helpful for students working on their applications while on summer vacation:

The QuickFinder was extremely helpful for the non-Common App schools which had "segmented" applications (i.e. "finish part one and THEN you get to see the essays.") Also, your website is more easily accessible on the mobile web browser on my iPhone than This was a life saver when the power went out at my house upstate, and the only internet-capable device within reach was my phone.

So stick with College Essay Organizer through the summer months! We'll keep on updating while you keep things simple.

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IECA and College Essay Organizer Announce Strategic Partnership

IECA LogoThe IECA just put out a press release about our new strategic partnership. Here is the full text:


July 12, 2011

IECA and College Essay Organizer Announce Strategic Partnership: All Members Receive Free Accounts

Fairfax, VA—IECA is proud to announce an exclusive strategic partnership with College Essay Organizer. “We have always been committed to offering our membership the most innovative and unique benefits,” said IECA Executive Director, Mark Sklarow. “Particularly in regard to new technology that saves members time and helps them work smarter.” With this in mind, IECA will now provide interested IECA members with free College Essay Organizer student accounts during each college application season, in addition to the already specially discounted rates for IECA members. Each member of IECA will receive one free student account valued at $49; any member purchasing nine or more student accounts directly from College Essay Organizer will get an additional free account. (The more student accounts a member purchases, the lower the per student rate.)

Member feedback on this one-of-a kind web tool has been overwhelmingly positive since it was first unveiled at last year’s IECA conference. In this short time, hundreds of members have begun working with College Essay Organizer. “We designed our Web site with independent educational consultants in mind,” said Dan Stern, President of College Essay Organizer. “Our goal has always been to help IECA members optimize their time and ensure an even more professional way of running, and growing, their businesses.”

For those who are new to College Essay Organizer, this partnership will give IECA members the opportunity to discover how this easy-to-use, groundbreaking technology will save time, reduce anxiety, and allow members to work more efficiently during the busy application season. IECA members who already know the value of College Essay Organizer will enjoy the additional savings with their free account(s).

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College Essay Questions Released for 2011-2012

What makes you tick? Colleges want to know.

Several colleges released their 2011-2012 essay questions this week, giving students an enjoyable way to spend their 4th of July holiday!

Updated schools including University of Colorado-Boulder, Georgetown University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and University of Michigan-Ann Arbor kept their essay questions the same, but others did not disappoint in delivering more creative options.

As expected, all of the schools kept with the theme of, as one of Tufts’ questions from last year puts it, “What makes you tick?” Tufts replaced it with another question demonstrating that it still wants to get to know its prospective students:

For the second short response we asked you to consider the world around you. Now, consider the world within. Taste in music, food and clothing can make a statement while politics, sports, religion and ethnicity are often defining attributes.  Are you a vegetarian?  A poet?  Do you prefer You Tube or test tubes, Mac or PC?  Are you the drummer in an all-girl rock band?  Do you tinker? Use the richness of your identity to frame your personal outlook.  (200-250 words)

University of Virginia also had a couple of interesting developments in its application, adding a question about its Kinesiology program, and swapping its question related to Mark Bauerlain’s The Dumbest Generation to a more intriguing prompt: “Discuss something you secretly like but pretend not to, or vice versa.”

Definitely thoughts to ponder, while relaxing on the beach this weekend!

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New York Times Analyzes Most Expensive Schools In America

Department of EducationWith perfect timing, the New York Times has presented the flip side of our previous post about the value of pursuing scholarships, analyzing the Education Department's recent release of its database of the most expensive colleges and universities in America.

The rise in cost of education in America is clearly outstripping inflation, household income, or any other benchmark against which tuition increases of America's not-for-profit universities could be measured year over year. So what is to be done about the astronomical costs incoming freshmen are facing?

The answer is found in the data itself, and in the public response from Bates College in Lewiston, Maine (the school with the dubious distinction of being the most expensive four-year not-for-profit school in America). Increase the amount of financial aid available to students of lesser means.

Scholarships are at a higher premium than ever before, so make sure to do your homework this summer and apply to as many as you can find. In many ways, such applications are a numbers game - the more you can find, the less you'll pay up front.

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Independent Counselors Improve Global Reach With College Essay Organizer

This article in the New York Times' Education section describes a small school in upstate New York that decided to change its fate by attracting students from all over the world to learn, and, in turn, help the local economy. As the article admits, the idea sounds preposterous for a school of its size - the population of the town at the time had dropped below 500 - but the superintendent of Newcomb, NY, decided that the plan was worth a shot, and enrollment has since shot up. They expect to have over 100 students next year alone, and since beginning their efforts, they have brought in students from 19 different countries. This has had the dual benefit of improving the educational environment for the students and improving the local economy.

The key to the school's success was its global outreach and its ability to provide opportunities to foreign students that weren't available in those students' homelands. At College Essay Organizer, we have seen independent counselors increase the scope of their businesses dramatically through the use of technologies that enable a quick and simple global outreach.

Because of new communication tools such as Skype and iChat, counselors are able to transcend the local responsibilities they've had for years and provide consulting and advising services to clients the world over. As a single-stop essay editing and advising platform, College Essay Organizer can be ideal for essay development between advisor and client across state lines, time zones, even entire oceans!

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Forbes: Technology Revolution Changing College Admissions

This post today on Forbes' blog discusses how the use of technology has revolutionized the college application process, and, in turn, the selectivity of the nation's top colleges. Many schools have seen precipitous drops in their acceptance levels in the past year, with Columbia University posting the most significant year-over-year drop after deciding to allow the Common App in 2010. In just one year, Columbia increased its applicant pool by more than a third, and saw its selectivity drop to just 6.7%. With this kind of selectivity, diversifying your number of applications to increase the odds of success is the best solution.

College Essay Organizer is discussed in the article as a service that can help you manage your large number of applications easily - but the schools that Steve Cohen cites are particularly good examples of where our site excels. Schools like NYU, USC, and Syracuse are very popular, and the amount of work required to apply there - and their departments especially - can be deceptive. Make sure to get out in front of the work that's required of you and pace yourself accordingly.

Another benefit of College Essay Organizer that Cohen points out is the simple fact that we help you keep the requirements manageable! College Essay Organizer is the site that puts all your requirements in one place, and can be modified as your college list grows or contracts. Instead of managing a large number of applications, PDFs, and essay documents, our Essay RoadMap technology can function as a repository for all your work during the application season. This makes a complicated process simple and keeps things sane.

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New York Times Addresses The Importance Of the College Essay

New York TimesThe New York Times posted an in-depth and informative piece this past weekend about the growing number of applicants to American universities from other countries, and how important the college essay is for gaining an edge.  The problem the article describes is simple: the number of overseas applicants is skyrocketing, increasing at more than 50% a year, every year, and the number of slots available in each school's incoming class is staying the same. With competition becoming ever more aggressive, the cost of advising and essay help is reaching into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per student. While most independent consultants are wonderful, helpful guides, some are willing to rewrite every element of an applicant's essay, or even write it for the student outright.

College Essay Organizer is the ethical solution to this problem. We have been helping foreign students navigate the lengthy and complex essay process for years, and as with all of College Essay Organizer's members, we do it quickly and at a low cost. With the circuitous application system we have in America, it can be difficult to even know where to begin. College Essay Organizer is a one-stop shop for your essay requirements, allowing you to work smarter and spend your time efficiently on the work you have to do, rather than the enormous amount that it seems you have to do.

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Are you a school rep who wants to learn more?

College Essay Organizer is important to schools as well as students. Here are some frequently raised objections from school officials. Find your objection(s) below and see if our response(s) clarify things for you:

1. There are not that many essays to write.

This is the single greatest misconception. While some students may have only a few essays to write, many students have to address a vast number of essay questions, especially if they are applying to competitive or liberal arts colleges. Beyond that, there are program-specific and scholarship questions, most of which do not appear on the Common App supplements. Some students have to deal with more than 20 different essay questions.

2. Our students write great essays on their own.

Despite great resources for many aspects of the admissions experience, so much confusion, anxiety, and procrastination surrounds the college essay process for all. Much of students’ stress comes from not knowing what is involved upfront, and having to discover it painfully along the way under tight deadlines.

Having a clear plan that lays everything out from the beginning allows students to pace themselves and plan accordingly, so they can spend their energy writing great essays rather than trying to figure out how to manage the details.

3. Our juniors write a college essay before they even meet with us.

It’s great that they get started on their main personal statement before meeting with you, but this does not prepare them for the many additional essays their colleges will require. Supplemental, program-specific, department-specific, short-take, optional, and scholarship essays make up the majority of what students have to write, and most of these prompts are not posted on the Common App. Even if your students know to look for these essays, it takes hours to find and organize them, increasing frustration and stress—but often they don’t even know about such essays until too close to deadline.

Having spent 15 years with high-school students on a daily basis, I can assure you that so much of the student and parental anxiety stems from being unprepared for the college essay workload.

Why not have all of those questions and a personalized essay writing plan delivered instantly in one simple document?

4. We do a great job at reviewing each student’s essays.

Our goal is to empower you to continue this job with greater efficiency, by giving students a clear plan and freeing up your time to focus on more important issues, like helping students pick the right colleges and helping them brainstorm and edit their essays.

We now allow students to upload their essays to their College Essay Organizer accounts so school counselors can review, edit, and manage all essays smoothly and effectively through their master accounts. Keeping all your student essays in one place, with time-stamped updates, is so much cleaner than emailing drafts back and forth for multiple students with various essays and drafts.

5. Most of our students have private consultants or tutors anyway.

Many students seek outside help because they quickly see that there are more essays required of them than they ever anticipated. A simple web tool like College Essay Organizer can often replace the need for private consultants or tutors, while also cutting out the element of surprise and the confusion that comes along with discovering how much work they really have.

Plus, for those who still opt to pay for private guidance, College Essay Organizer will optimize the time they spend with their consultants/tutors, who would ordinarily bill for the time they spend manually doing what College Essay Organizer does instantly and inexpensively.

6. Our school cannot afford this.

Group rates for schools are as low as $5 per student. Considering the importance of the college essays and the potential return a successful college application represents, the value of College Essay Organizer is exceptional.

In some cases, parents associations have paid for group discount rates, leaving school obligations at zero.

In other situations, schools promote discounted rates that they secure for their students.

7. Students can do this organization on their own.

The reality is most students do not take the time to organize their essay questions on their own, and as a result struggle through the process without clear direction. We would not ask students to go to the library each time they have to look something up when they can use Google, or look up each college admissions' data by calling the college directly. It's no different for researching all the essay questions. Performing this time-consuming, confusing research on their own doesn't build character; it breeds frustration and procrastination.

Plus, students who decide to write their essays one application at a time inevitably end up doing more work and taking more time than they need to, since they do not plan in advance—it's like running a marathon without knowing beforehand how long the race will be. You need to know the course and pace yourself. College Essay Organizer lays out the path simply and clearly from the start, showing how to make it much more manageable than it may seem at first.

8. We want students to write unique essays for each college question.

If you've ever worked with a student applying to college during crunch time, you'll know that time is of the essence. That's why tools like Naviance and the Common App are so valuable. College Essay Organizer is simply the logical extension of these tools. Students naturally recognize that some essays can be used for multiple questions, and most colleges recognize this, too. The essays can (and should, as we recommend on our site) be modified as needed, so they answer the colleges' specific questions directly.

College Essay Organizer delivers a suggested plan for optimizing one's time during a hectic period. But when you're dealing with 8 or more different colleges and possibly 20 or more different questions, there is naturally going to be a good deal of thematic overlap. Our web tool simply automates what students have always done manually, doing work instantly that takes students hours.

9. Is College Essay Organizer an ethical tool?

College Essay Organizer is absolutely the ethical solution to the college essay challenge. A recent iParadigm report indicates the high prevalence of plagiarism among college applicants, and was supported by a Public Agenda study indicating that school counselors are so overwhelmed that they don’t have time to properly focus on each student’s essays. Some students have others write their essays or get unfair assistance because they do not have the time or the one-on-one support to do quality work, thus resorting to the short cuts we all frown upon. College Essay Organizer saves hours of time and provides great clarity. Procrastination is eliminated and the focus can shift from figuring out how to get started to actually writing great essays.

10. How can I place a value on College Essay Organizer?

Consider these key benefits. College Essay Organizer:

  • Saves each student more than 3 hours with an instant, well-organized essay writing strategy.
  • Helps students reduce their workloads by as much as 75%, resulting in higher quality writing and less anxiety.
  • Makes student meetings with counselors more strategic by allowing discussions to focus on writing rather than organization.
  • Allows counselors to manage all student essays in one platform, avoiding the need to email multiple drafts back and forth for all their students.
  • Saves your school money by optimizing the counselor’s time and increasing efficiency.
  • Cuts down on calls and emails from concerned parents by delivering a clear essay plan from the beginning that parent, student, and counselor all agree on.

If you use any management tool for managing the application process, such as Naviance, know that only College Essay Organizer addresses the college essays, the most time-consuming and challenging part of the application experience.

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