What’s New With the Common App?: Tips and Facts for Your Applications
Every year around this time, we gather college essay deadlines and supplemental essay questions for the 200+ colleges that are most popular with our students. We then take this information and make it available to you through AppView, which emails school-specific deadline and essay information directly to you.
As a result of our research this year, we have compiled a few fun facts relating to the 2014-15 Common Application and its member schools. First up: our favorite new supplemental essay questions for 2014-15. Many schools keep the same questions year after year, or only update them every few years. The six Common App schools below developed these new essay prompts for the 2014-15 application cycle.
Favorite New Supplemental College Essay Questions
- Brandeis University: What one invention would you uninvent if you could, and why?
- Carleton College: Carleton is powered by wind turbines. What empowers you?
- Dartmouth College: Every name tells a story: Tell us about your name—any name: first, middle, last, nickname—and its origin.
- University of Chicago: What’s so odd about odd numbers?
- University of Notre Dame: A good story starts with a good beginning. Get us hooked in the first 150 words.
- West Virginia University, Honors College: What is the most dangerous sentence in the world, and why?
Five popular Common Application schools are now offering Early Decision. If you’ve done your research and are in love with one of these schools, applying ED may be right for you!
Select Common App Schools Now Offering Early Decision
- Case Western Reserve University
- Clark University
- Loyola University Maryland
- Northeastern University
- University of San Francisco
The majority of seniors are looking to begin college in the fall following high school graduation. But did you know that dozens of Common App colleges offer admission for spring term? If you’re applying to a selective college that welcomes freshmen in the spring, you may improve your chances of admission by applying for this less common term!
Select Common App Schools With Spring 2015 Entry
Sometimes students don’t discover their “dream” school until late fall or early winter of senior year. And sometimes students who did apply to their dream school ED are disappointed in December when they are either deferred or denied. But did you know that a growing number of Common Application colleges offer Early Decision 2 – a binding admission program with deadlines often on January 1 or January 15? Consider some of these great options below.
Select Common App Schools Offering Early Decision 2
A spate of colleges are turning to test-optional admissions policies, with Temple University and Montclair State University having made two of the most recent announcements. If your GPA is strong but your SAT/ACT scores are not, you may want to consider applying to one (or more) of these test-optional colleges. At these schools, the strength of your transcript (including grades, rigor, and breadth of coursework), essays, and letters of recommendation will play the largest role in your admissions decision. (For a full listing of test-optional colleges, visit FairTest.org.)
Select Common App Test Optional Schools
In part III of our Common App tips blog, we wrote about an issue regarding some Common App schools that each require writing supplements, yet appear on an applicant’s “Dashboard” as though they don’t. Here, however, are 22 Common App schools that definitely do not require the submission of any additional essays.
Select Common App Schools Without Additional Essays
Under what circumstances should I consider whether or not a school requires supplemental essays?
While it’s best to create your college list without regard for supplemental essay requirements, you might encounter situations in which you need to consider the time commitment involved in writing these essays. Given that some schools requiring up to five supplemental essays, you’ll need to plan well in advance if you intend to tackle each one seriously. If you decide that you need to add a few schools to the list at the last minute, or you find yourself suddenly out of time to apply anywhere at all, you’ll want to know which schools don’t require a supplemental essay, and you’ll want to know quick.
If this is the case for you, don’t worry; we’ve done some of the legwork for you. Below, you’ll find a list of some high quality schools that don’t require supplemental essays.
Schools That Don’t Require a Supplemental Essay with the Common Application
Middlebury College: Middlebury requires only the essays from the Common Application, along with the usual teacher recommendations and transcripts. Additional materials such as an arts portfolio can be uploaded through the student portal, but there is no guarantee that they will be reviewed by the admissions committee.
Harvard: While the application requirements for Harvard do require a supplement, each of its required components is a multiple-choice question or a fill-in-the-blank. There is an optional supplemental essay, which we would recommend completing whenever possible, but it is not required. You can read more about this in our post Should You Send the Harvard Optional Supplement Essay?.
Washington University in St. Louis: Washington University in St. Louis does not require any supplement to the Common Application or Coalition Application. They note on the FAQ page of their admissions website that “supplemental essays are required for our Academic Scholarship and Fellowship Programs, which are open to all first-year applicants. Because our application deadline for our academic scholarships is January 5, 2018, we would like students to focus their time to thoughtfully address our scholarship essays and not add an additional strain.”
Williams College: Williams is another strong school with an optional supplement. Of course, as before, we do recommend completing optional essays. You can read more about it in our post How to Write the Williams College Application Essays.
Wesleyan University: Currently ranked 21st in National Liberal Arts Colleges by U.S. News and World Report, Wesleyan requires neither test scores nor supplemental essays. They note in their testing policy that “students should have the power to decide how best to present themselves to the admission committee and whether—or not—their standardized test results accurately reflect their academic ability and potential”. Beginning in fall 2017, it will begin to accept the Coalition Application in addition to the Common Application.
Colby College: Colby College is currently ranked 12th in National Liberal Arts Colleges and does not require a supplement to the Common Application or Coalition Application. Another attractive feature of its application process is its lack of an application fee.
Amherst College: Okay, okay, highly-ranked Amherst College does actually require a writing supplement, but we’re including it on this list because one of the options is something you’ve already written. Though you could write a separate essay for the supplement, you are also invited to “submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities.” This option specifically invites you to submit a paper you’ve already written for school, and in fact the admissions committee prefers a paper that has your teacher’s grade and comments on it already. Consider this option if you’ve held on to your top work from the year.
No matter where you apply, there will be at least one essay you’ll need to write. If you’re currently considering where to apply and need some help narrowing down your college list, consider checking out CollegeVine’s Applications Guidance service. Here, you’ll be paired with a personal admissions specialist who can provide step-by-step guidance through the entire application process, including how to perfect your approach to the personal essay.
For more about creating a college list and writing application essays, check out these CollegeVine posts: