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    Hello everyone!

    We just wanted to bring you up to date on this year’s changes to the common application. And please make no mistake about it. Just as the changes to the SAT are largely due to increased competition from the ACT, so too are these changes largely due to increased competition from the Universal College Application!

    This year’s essay questions are below with new language appearing in italics:

    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.

    Schools now have the option of making the essays optional. So there’s a chance you may not have to answer any of these essays for one or more of your target schools. Two points of advice on this:

    1. We usually recommend sending the essay to the school anyway. It can help demonstrate your sincerity.
    2. There are some schools in our current economic conditions that appear to be struggling and may be close to following the path of Sweetbriar College. One thing these schools normally do is make themselves extremely attractive to applicants by waiving admission fees, waiving essay requirements, etc. Be sure you understand as much about the school’s viability as possible.

    Finally, the Common Application also made two technical changes for this coming year. Users can now preview individual parts of their applications at any time and not just as part of the submission review process. We are confident this will help alleviate some of the anxiety that has been associated with the Common Application. Secondly, users will face no restrictions on how many times they can edit their essays once it’s uploaded. We will continue to recommend not uploading the essay until it’s completely finished. It’s just too easy to create multiple versions of the same essay otherwise.

    Best of luck with your applications!


    David Petersam
    AdmissionsConsultants, Inc.


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    Fred Wang

    Good advice David. Thank you.

    My oldest daughter made the mistake of uploading her essay and making changes and then causing the family to panic when we realized she had created 2 versions.

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