Hundreds of Writing Supplements Still Not Live on the Common App

By now, we've all gotten used to the fact that not all the writing supplements will be live on the Common App at once as originally stated. According to a recent posting on the Common App's Facebook page, the technical issues are individual issues that are being worked on. Hopefully that means these will all be resolved soon:

Thanks to everyone who has been contacting the Help Center with their questions. We're hearing about problems with logins, passwords, and green checks. These issues are not systematic. Rather, they are affecting individual users. Of course, if you're one of those users, it's pretty frustrating. We're working hard to get you a solution.

In the meantime, College Essay Organizer is keeping you up-to-date on the schools that have released their 2013-2014 essay questions. Isn't it nice to not have to keep going back to the site to see if a supplement is finally up?


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Common App Still Experiencing Technical Difficulties

The Common App went live yesterday, and much to the dismay of rising seniors everywhere did not include any of the writing supplements for its 517 member colleges. We understand that getting a new system up and running can be a frustrating process for users and developers alike, and have no doubt that it will all be running smoothly soon. Here's its latest posting on their facebook page:

Thanks once again for your patience. We have worked hard to resolve lingering issues from our first 24 hours. We're happy to report:

 -The slow loading and saving of pages has been fixed.

-The password reset issue is resolved.

-ALL colleges can now be found in search.

Two outstanding issues that we are addressing:

-Technical issues involving Writing Supplement submission for some members.

-"College is not configured" error for some colleges: this is what you see when you try to those schools to your list.

More updates coming shortly... 

In the meantime, don't rely on the Common App, which may take weeks to deliver all of your colleges' essay questions. Instead, create your FREE College Essay Organizer account here and get many of your required essay questions NOW.

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Not All Writing Supplements will be Available on August 1

We're just a few nights away from the Common App going live on August 1, and many of us are still wondering what will happen. The Common App has promised that all supplemental essays will go live on August 1 this season despite that not being the case in previous years. Nonetheless, its June 14 posting on its facebook page stated the following:

Since many of you have asked: Yes, all Writing Supplement questions will go live for all members when CA4 launches on August 1.

Today's posting suggests that this will no longer be the case:

On August 1, CA4 will launch and officially become the 2013-14 Common Application. It's hard to overstate the magnitude of change we're implementing for our 517 member colleges. To make sure their individual Questions and Writing Supplements work as they should, we're providing additional testing time for any college that needs it. To be clear, students will be able to access and work through every page of every screen within the Common App itself. College pages that are still in testing will display a message requesting students to check back later. Thank you in advance for your patience as we help our member colleges to put the finishing touches on their good work.

So, there we have it. The release of supplemental essay questions may once again be spread out. Whatever the case may be, we'll be updating them in your College Essay Organizer accounts as they become available, and we can't wait to get started!

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Recently Updated Schools From College Essay Organizer

Here's a list of the first colleges we've updated for the 2013-2014 application season.

You will notice that the asterisk before each of the following colleges has been removed in our database, indicating that the college is now updated:

  1. Boston College
  2. Georgetown University
  3. Georgia College and State University
  4. University of California-Berkeley
  5. University of California-Davis
  6. University of California-Irvine
  7. University of California-Los Angeles
  8. University of California-Merced
  9. University of California-Riverside
  10. University of California-San Diego
  11. University of California-Santa Barbara
  12. University of California-Santa Cruz
  13. University of Chicago
  14. University of Virginia
  15. Wesleyan College
Only a few colleges post their new applications this early. As many of you know, ALL college supplements will be available when the Common App goes live on August 1 (The Common App recently confirmed this on their Facebook page.), but that won't get in the way of College Essay Organizer delivering essay questions to you even earlier!

Tip: For some updated colleges, certain questions may not yet be confirmed for the new season (eg, program-specific questions) so you will see a "Not Yet Updated" watermark behind such questions.

Note: If you are aware of any college that has released its new application but is not yet updated in College Essay Organizer, odds are we're already working on it. Keep in mind that we are updating not just the required questions but also the many program-specific, special applicant, and scholarship questions. That said, feel free to reply to this email noting any college application you believe is now available, and we will inform you when it will be live in College Essay Organizer.

Make sure to Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Twitter to get our updates and special posts.


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The Common App Announces 39 New Members

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
Eastern University
Felician College
George Fox University
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgian Court University
Hawai'i Pacific University
Kettering University
King's College London (UK)
Lexington College
Mary Baldwin College
Marywood University
Mercy College
Modul University Vienna (Austria)
Monmouth University
Newberry College
Pine Manor College
Purdue University
Saint Joseph's College (IN)
St. John's University
Sterling College
Temple University
Trinity Christian College
Unity 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



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Writing the College Essay Filled With Doubt

Accept them and move on

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.



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Common App Releases Essay Prompts for 2013-2014 Season

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.


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Tips for Rising Seniors

What do you think is the most important part of the college admissions process?

The summer is almost over. If you are a rising high school senior and you have not started your college application, start it today! The Common App went live on August 1, and many schools have already begun posting supplemental essays questions. Getting a head start on supplemental essays during the summer (when you have free time) will allow you to focus on your schoolwork during Senior Year; starting early will alleviate juggling homework and college preparation work.

Do not treat senior year of high school lightly. Admissions officers are not pleased when students do not continue rigorous courses or drop certain academic classes if they are not required. Four years of every academic subject bolsters a résumé – and keep up with your extracurricular clubs and sports.

When it is time to write the “Why are you applying to our college?” question, learn as much about the college or specific program as possible. Remember: the more specific your essay, the stronger it will be.

And, of course, enjoy the summer! Go out for the night with friends, buy an ice cream cone, and, above all, relax. You worked hard this past year; always remember to balance hard work with a little play.

To see more tips, click here.


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Jump-start the College Essay Process

Start brainstorming for the college essay process

The blistering heat of summer brings lazy, lethargic days. What smarter way to spend these hours than to jump-start the college essay process? The New York Times Choice Blog just posted a college application checklist here, recommending seniors to take advantage of summertime freedom and begin writing required essays before the school year begins.

Although the Common Application does not go live until August 1, 2012, many colleges and universities release supplemental essay questions during the summer, and the Common Application’s long and short essays have been confirmed. To keep track of these early releases, be sure to create your College Essay Organizer account now, as schools are updated as early as possible.

Simply brainstorming ideas when you have free time will pay off in the long run. Ann E. Selvetti of the New York Times advises seniors to “Give yourself the gift of time for the fall by getting as much done as possible this summer. Every year, seniors lament frittering away their summertime instead of using it to get a head start.” So instead of sunbathing on your deck this afternoon, grab a pencil and notepad and start jotting down ideas for your essay questions. When the cold autumn wind blows into town, you will thank yourself for starting early.

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Get Ready for Common App 4.0

Get ready for the new Common App

There is no doubt that the Common App has gone from relatively unknown to an almost mandatory pathway to applying to college in the past couple decades. The growth has been tremendous with 456 colleges currently accepting the Common App, and hundreds more poised to jump on board. This year alone, approximately 750,000 students have used the form to submit 3 million applications, a 25% increase from last year.

A recent article by Jacques Steinberg details the new system the Common App will be creating in order to accommodate future increases in traffic. According to Rob Killion, executive director of Common Application, “If we stick with the architecture of the current system through the end of the decade, with the growth we’re seeing, there would be delays during peak periods, for students and for our member colleges getting applications. This will all soon be groaning if we don’t do something now.”

Common App 4.0 aims to fix existing glitches including sections being truncated when an application is not previewed prior to submitting, or if too many characters are used in certain fields. Further, it will be capable of handling the continued growth which it is expected to receive including over 10 million applications filed to over 1000 schools.

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