As of this writing, over 490 out of about 550 Common App colleges have gone fully “live” with their member questions and writing supplements for 2014-15. The rest are working out details and will come on line as soon as all parties reach agreement.
“The 60 or so remaining Members will make the decision to go live when they are ready to do so -- that may be anytime between now and the end of August,” explained Aba Blankson, the Common App’s director of communications. “…Prospective Applicants who navigate to a Member page that is not yet published, will see a message explaining that the Common App and Member Institution are working together to finalize the questions. At that time, they will also see tips on how to proceed through the other parts of the application process.”
In the meantime, early bird applicants have already begun completing applications. On the first day, about 600 applications were filed through the Common App system, according to Ms. Blankson.
And while most of the application elements introduced last year remain in place, there have been a couple of changes in function and design, some of which were recommended by focus groups of local high school students.
Perhaps the most noticeable and somewhat unexpected change this year is the challenge of locating essay prompts. Colleges were given the option of locating prompts in writing supplements like last year or placing them in member questions located in the main body of the application. For colleges requiring a writing supplement, filing an application becomes a two-step process. Without the supplement, the process is reduced to one submission.
A complication comes in when a college uses member questions to “trigger” other member questions or a brand new writing supplement which wasn’t immediately visible on the “My Colleges” page. This marks the return of the “stealth” essay, which gave many applicants nightmares last year.
The essay hunt may take some getting used to, but if applicants take care to answer member questions first, all prompts should readily appear. If applicants wait until late in the game, however, they may be surprised with a few unexpected essays to complete.
In any event, it appears that some colleges spent the summer coming up with challenging, if not downright weird questions for applicants to consider and ponder late into the night.
Here are 12 of the more ‘un’common Common Application questions for 2014-15: