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New Release Date for the Common Application


This post was contributed by Alexandra Rhodes, an independent educational consultant based in Beverly Hills. You can learn more about Alexandra and her practice at: RhodesEducationalConsulting.com.

Big news out recently from the Common Application—the online application used by nearly 700 universities worldwide, including those in the Ivy League: the application is already open for the Class of 2017! This breaks from tradition, when the system shut down every summer for several weeks to wipe out all existing accounts and re-opened on August 1, effectively stopping any rising seniors from filling in the application before that date.

What does this mean for the Class of 2017?

First, it’s important to note that just because the application is open now, college submission deadlines have not changed. They still range between August-January of a student’s senior year, depending on the college. So this gives students extra months to work on the Common Application without having an earlier submission date.

Secondly, the Common App is using the same five essay options as last year. This means that the Class of 2017 may fill out the application early as well as tackle the essay.

As a reminder, here are last year’s—and now this year’s—essay questions (students are asked to choose one and write between 250-600 words):

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share that story.
  2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

It’s important to note, though, that colleges are NOT opening their individual supplements early. So if a college has an extra essay or two on a supplement, or any additional supplemental information attached to the Common App, it is not yet available. Colleges typically release their supplement in July or August with plans to do the same this year. For the Class of 2017, that means they can’t start those college-specific supplements until summertime.

What can the Class of 2017 do now?

Students can establish a user name and a password with the Common App today and get to work. For those interested in more specific guidance, Rhodes Educational Consulting is offering a 4-hour small group workshop – the Common Application June Jumpstart – which will enable students to complete the application in its entirety. Additional tips for writing standout college essay will be reviewed as well.

Although news of the Common Application’s modified ‘open date’ may come as a surprise to some, it ultimately presents students with the opportunity to get ahead on their college applications.

Matty Steiner

Prior to joining Compass, Matty obtained their MA from the University of Chicago and a BA from UC Santa Cruz. They have over a decade of experience in the field of test preparation, having worked as an instructor, consultant, and keynote speaker on the topic of admission testing.


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