Common App Essay Length 2014 Stingray

The news is in!

The Common Application just announced that The Common Application essay prompts for 2014-15 will be the same as last year.

The essay length will continue to be capped at 650 words.

Last year, nearly 70 percent of Common Application member colleges and 90 percent of school counselors said that the prompts were effective in helping students represent themselves to colleges. So they’re doing it again.

That’s good news. Last year my students wrote terrific essays using these prompts. And in the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing what I learned, and writing about how students can answer them.  I have lots of ideas to pass along.

In the meantime, here is the list:

The 2014-2015 Common Application Essay Prompts:

  • 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.
  • Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure.  How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
  • Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  • Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content.  What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
  • Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Sharon Epstein is owner of First Impressions College Consulting in Redding, Connecticut.A Writers Guild Award-winner and two-time Emmy Award nominee, Sharon lectures extensively on essay writing. Sharon teaches students how to master interview skills, write killer resumes, and transform goals, dreams and experiences into memorable college application essays. She works with students everywhere: in-person, by phone, Skype and email. Visit her website for more info. Connect on Google+, Pinterest and Twitter.

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Categories: College Essay - Writing, Common Application Essay Prompts | Tags: 2014-2015 Common Application essay prompts, first impressions college consulting, sharon epstein | Permalink.

Author: Sharon Epstein

College consultant, teaching students how to write memorable college application essays, grad school and prep school essays, and succeed at job and college interviews.

In the 2014-15 Common App, Member colleges and universities can ask for writing samples on either the Member Questions page or the Writing Supplement. This is a change from last year’s Common App. Some applicants and counselors are finding it tricky to identify all of the writing samples that a college might require, especially those that are triggered based on responses to other questions. The First-Year Writing Requirements Overview posted within the Applicant Help Center will help you identify whether a college requires writing of any kind. It lists all of the colleges and universities that have short answer and/ or essay questions as part of their First-Year application and where those questions appear.

In general, there are three kinds of questions that you may encounter, required, conditional, and optional.

Required questions are ….well…required.  This means that you must provide a response to the question prior to the submission of the application.

Conditional questions are those that are triggered by the responses to other questions. Some people refer to these ‘stealth’ or ‘hidden’ questions. Colleges are really not trying to hide them from you – they are just conditional based on previous responses. So for example if you indicate that you are applying to a particular college within the university, or to specific major or program, the college may require a short answer or essay about your interest in that program.  If you are not applying to that program, it is not necessary for you to see or respond to that question.

Optional questions are not required. You may decide whether or not you want to provide a response to the question.

In addition to having the questions within the Common App, many colleges post their essay questions (required, conditional, and optional) on their websites so don’t forget to check that out as well to make sure you have everything.

One final suggestion – the college application process can be overwhelming. Take your time with your application and make sure you give yourself enough time to write thoughtful and well-planned essays regardless of the required length.  This is your chance to speak to the admissions committees – take advantage of that opportunity.

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