Students this year will answer one of the same five essay prompts that students answered last year. Essays can be a minimum of 250 words and a maximum of 650 words.
Many colleges also ask for supplementary essays. Stanford University's supplement questions remain the same as in recent years. Stanford asks for three short essays of no more than 250 words, plus several short answer questions. Harvard allows students to provide an additional essay on any topic, but offers a list of suggestions. Santa Clara University has three short supplement questions which can be answered in 150 - 300 words. Amherst College has a reputation for asking very tough supplement questions. This year one option is to write a personal response to this quote from JFK:
“It seems to me incumbent upon this and other schools’ graduates to recognize their responsibility to the public interest...unless the graduates of this college…are willing to put back into our society those talents, the broad sympathy, the understanding, the compassion... then obviously the presuppositions upon which our democracy are based are bound to be fallible.”
Last year, the Common Application was fraught with numerous bugs as it went to a new online system used by 813,069 applicants. In order to give students a head start over the summer, the Common Application has been available in a paper form for students to use as a worksheet in preparation for completion of the online form.
Thirty-six new colleges have joined the Common Application this year, including several overseas universities.