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.

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.

Common Application for 2011 Is Live - New Schools Added

That's right. It says 35 years.

The Common App has updated for the class of 2015. This year's application features twenty-nine new schools, including Columbia University, the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, UConn, and three SUNY schools - Maritime College, Morrisville State College, and Potsdam.

As in past years, many schools require supplements to the Common App, which means additional writing, sorting, and organization. CEO is right on the edge of these releases and we make sure our application information is up to date. So as these supplements are made available, we'll have them here, and your Essay QuickFinders and Essay RoadMaps will update automatically to reflect the latest information for the schools you've selected.

Make the most of these early releases and get your writing done ahead of time! Remember that CEO is a great resource for finding scholarship and honors programs, too. That's cash money and respect! What else could you ask for?

One of the reasons schools make these requirements known so far ahead of time is to allow you to explore the departmental and honors requirements so many of them have without getting overwhelmed. Too often we hear about students who choose not to apply to programs or even entire universities just because of the application workload! That just won't do. So use CEO's tools as much as you can and keep your eye on the prize.

CEO In The News: New York Times Education Section

Our CEO and founder Daniel Stern is quoted in this New York Times article on plagiarism. One of the unexpected - but great - side effects of CEO's service is that it cuts down on plagiarism. And maybe better yet for the more ethical time-strapped teens we help, it cuts down on that nagging urge to plagiarize.

I mean, it's right there. Copy. Paste. Done. Why not? It's a time saver. And the colleges aren't doing you any favors there by making their applications so similar, yet not identical. Why not take just a little help from your friends?

It's an ethical issue everyone wrestles with, especially when doing work you're not necessarily pouring your heart and soul into. But where CEO comes to the rescue is in the focus and ethical re-application of the work you've already done for your other apps. It cuts down on the work you need to do, making the apps especially easy for those sure-bet and safety schools you have on your list. For sure, by the time you get to those apps, you've outlined your grand life plan in five hundred words or less enough times. No need to do it again, right? Right.

Now thank CEO instead of the command-v.

College Essay Organizer Helps Defeat Plagiarism

There is no better opening. But you cannot have this opening. Sorry.

There is no better opening. But you cannot have this opening. Sorry.

Tom Robinson at Today's Campus Online recently addressed an issue that we've found CEO is well-designed to defeat, that of plagiarism in college essays.

Robinson discusses a recently published study that a jaw-dropping 36 percent of personal statements were found to include "significant matching text" when put through plagiarism-checking software, leading the researchers to believe that more than a third of all applicants were lifting parts or all of their college essays.

There are a whole lot of issues that come to mind when discussing this, not least of which are the problems of the naturally overloaded guidance counselors of America. Without meaningful one-on-one collaboration between students and faculty, it can be difficult for writers to be aware of the significant differences between the college essay and the standard five-paragraph essays they've been expected to churn out for years.

Another significant issue is the overwhelming amount of work that seniors are saddled with each fall. Most have their hearts set on an individual school, and if their early applications are denied, are often surprised to learn the actual amount of writing they have to do for their other applications. Panic sets in, and cheating begins to feel inevitable.

Our president and CEO, Daniel Stern, is quoted in Robinson's article and talks about how CEO provides an ethical solution.

For juniors who are looking to avoid that time crunch in the first place, we've offered steep discounts, encouraging them to get started ahead of time and capitalize on the free time available in the summer.

For seniors, we provide an automatic, low-cost solution to the organizational challenge they're bound to face, and we show them how to repurpose the work they've already done for many applications without resorting to taking others' words.

Hey, if putting a dent in plagiarism is our good deed for the day then it's been a good day. Shoot us an email and let us know what CEO's doing right for you.