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Common Application essay prompts will remain

Stanford University campanile
Elizabeth Stone

Despite a season full of on-going technical problems with the Common Application, the shared application system used by more than 500 colleges, one aspect worked--the essay questions.

The Common Application announced today in a newsletter to guidance counselors that the five new prompts introduced for 2014 applicants will remain the same for applications for 2015. The essay length will also continue to be capped at 650 words.

Common Application noted that essay topics will be reviewed on an annual basis and may be changed in the future, but were positively received by colleges this year.

Forty new colleges have joined the Common Application group despite a tumultuous year, with scores of colleges forced to extend deadlines or permit applicants to use alternate application forms, such as the Universal Application, because of ongoing submission and document delivery problems.

The essay prompts for 2015 are:

1. 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.

2. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

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 place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family

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