Join Leigh Ann Chow for an in-depth discussion in this video The Common Application and the Universal College Application, part of College Prep: Writing a Strong Essay.
- One-stop shopping is a concept Americans like a lot, think of Walmart or Target, one place you can go to buy everything from toothbrushes to telescopes. College shopping has its own version of this idea. The common application is a non-profit organization founded in 1975 with the intention of streamlining the college application process. Over 500 participating member schools allow students to submit a standardized online application. Chances are good that one of the schools you'll be applying to will be on this list.
There are hundreds of small and mid-sized private and public colleges and universities, everyone from tiny Agnes Scott college in Georgia to Yale University. There are also 17 public flagship universities on the list, including Ohio State, the University of Michigan and UNC-Chapel Hill. In the 2013-14 admission season, more than 800,000 students used the Common app for a total of 3.5 million individual applications.
The prompts for the Common app are general enough to give plenty of room for creativity, while still allowing you to highlight your background and experiences. We'll be discussing the prompts in greater detail in a future movie and walking through the process of selecting a topic, brainstorming, and sketching out a response, as well as drafting, editing and revising an essay. In addition to Common application member schools, a group of more than 50 colleges and universities, including Princeton, Duke, Harvard, John Hopkins and Cornell Also accept what's called the Universal college application.
Some schools accept either the Universal application or the Common app. Princeton says that it treats both equally, so if the schools you're applying to accept either one, the choice is really up to you, but here's something to consider, the Universal application does not require a student to submit letters of recommendation with the application, nor does it require a general essay. Up until now, that has been the major difference between the Common app and the Universal app, but a change to the Common app for the 2015-16 application now gives schools the choice to make the essay optional.
We discuss this change, as well as how to handle the optional scenario in another movie. If you're applying to a school that requires or accepts the Universal application essay, you'll find a single broad prompt asking you to write an essay that demonstrates your ability to develop and communicate your thoughts. The prompt suggests topics such as a person you admire, a life-changing experience, or your viewpoint on a particular current event. Whether you apply through the Universal application or the Common app, most schools also require a supplement that includes additional information.
These individual essays are available through the Universal app and Common app online and can be submitted electronically. We'll talk about supplements in an upcoming movie. So for now, you may want to check on the essay requirements for the schools you're considering, so that you can keep them in mind as you watch the movies ahead. If you're applying to a Common app school you can find an updated list of first year writing requirements on their blog. I've included a PDF of the 2014-15 requirements in the exercise files for this course, but make sure you check for the updated version before starting your own application.
- Understanding the essay purpose and audience
- Reviewing common and unusual essay prompts
- Starting with a strong opening statement
- Showing, not telling
- Adhering to word limits
- Organizing the essay
- Varying sentence structure
- Revising the essay
- Communicating sincerity and enthusiasm