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What’s NEW in Common App 2017-18

By Lisa Mark Robinson

For the 2017-18 application cycle, the Common App now boasts over 700 colleges with 49 states represented. This is an addition of 47 new schools including Ohio’s public Kent State.

Students are able to start their applications at any time of year as most of the Common App “rolls over” to the next year. However, anything NEW in the application for the coming year as well as college-specific questions, recommender invitations and authorization release will not roll-over.

Each year the Common App creates enhancements to make the application process more user friendly for students as well as to meet the needs and desires of member colleges. Here’s what’s new for the 2017-18 application that students would want to know!

Most students will now be able to enter their own high school courses and grades as they’ve been able to do with test scores in the past. 12 colleges will now require students to do so; this includes The Ohio State University, West Virginia University and Purdue University. To accomplish this you must have a copy of your transcript. 

When it comes to essays, Common App revised some of the previous essay/personal statement prompts including adding two new options. Here are the essay prompts for the 2017-18 cycle. Students have been encouraged to complete college essays in June and July then later cut and paste their completed essays into the application after August 1. In addition to “cut and paste” Common App now has Google Drive integration where students can upload content.

After the essay/personal statement challenge, the second most difficult part of the application process is typically the “Activities” section. Students get stuck on the wording as it can only be 150 characters including spaces; barely longer than a Tweet! It helps to craft wording to make sense to a reader not familiar with you, your region or your high school as well as to quantify your accomplishments where ever possible. Need assistance on nailing the perfect description or deciding which of your pursuits makes your limited list of 10 activities? One enhancement in the activities section making this section easier is two new activity types from which to choose: social justice and internship.

Working with a college advisor. You can now turn on a feature allowing others to preview your application for input and proofreading without allowing them to make changes. Students may invite up to three advisors, counselors and others within the application. Access can be turned off at any time.

Good luck with your applications and be sure to stay well ahead of the curve. Deadline mean midnight local time to you. Since technology can go awry, beat deadlines by days or weeks, not hours.