Jul 27, 2016

U Penn tightens the screws on Early Decision

University of Pennsylvania

Just when you thought the process of applying to college could not possibly get more complicated, the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) introduced a strange new twist, further restricting the terms of its Early Decision (ED) policy. Under the new policy, students applying to Penn ED will not be permitted to apply Early Action to any other private college or university in the U.S. There are some exceptions for scholarship opportunities, but for all intents and purposes, Penn’s new “Restricted” Early Decision (RED) is the first in the nation and takes the concept of early decision to a whole new level of complexity.

Not to be confused with nonbinding Early Action (EA), Early Decision contractually commits a student to attend a particular college or university in exchange for being admitted early in the process. In other words, if admitted, the student definitely will attend

Typically, the student applies early in the fall and receives a decision sometime in mid-December. With only a tiny loophole allowing a student to break a contract if the institution fails to provide enough financial aid to make attendance feasible, students admitted early decision must both withdraw all other applications and send an enrollment deposit directly after receiving notification of admission.

Until Penn tightened the screws, early decision was considered the most restrictive of all application options. So restrictive in fact, that these applications required additional special agreements signed by the student, a parent and the student’s school counselor.

It is a tool used primarily (not exclusively) by liberal arts institutions to control yield (percent of students offered admission who actually enroll) and the flow of students into the class.  It also provides, in most cases, a distinct advantage to those willing to forego the option of comparing offers and commit early to a particular school. It’s usually considered a win/win by both parties.

According to Cigus Vanni, longtime member of the New Jersey Association for College Admission Counseling Executive Board and former member of the NACAC Professional Development Committee, over 200 institutions nationwide offered early decision last year. In fact, some colleges like early decision so much they expanded the option to include a second round—ED II which offers students and colleges all the same tactical advantages—only a little later in the application cycle. Some more expansive schools also offered a variety of early action options along with ED.

Interestingly, it appears the number of colleges offering the early decision option may be on the increase as institutions deal with how early FAFSA will affect recruitment, admissions, enrollment and yield. It may be that colleges offering early admission of any kind and providing financial aid packages with their admissions decisions are getting concerned about their power to control student enrollment decisions under the new timelines.

But Penn stands alone in its desire to restrict the most restrictive application option. It’s not enough that students may submit only one ED application and they relinquish the opportunity to look at other options as well as to wait until May 1 to send a deposit. They must also agree not to apply to institutions as early action candidates.

This means a student applying to Penn ED, cannot apply to Georgetown, MIT, Stanford, Tulane, the University of Miami or any other private institution as an early action candidate.

Although similar in the way it seeks to limit applicant options, this policy is not to be confused with Single Choice Early Action (Stanford, Harvard, Princeton, Yale) or Restrictive Early Action (Boston College, Georgetown, Notre Dame). But it does apply to colleges using these special early action options.

So why Restrictive Early Decision? According to sources within the Penn admissions office, they are seeing an increasing number of students trying to get out of their ED contracts for reasons not limited to financial aid. It is felt that early action decisions are tempting students with better or more desirable options. The solution would be to simply take this possibility off the table. Since students are required under the terms of their ED agreement to withdraw all other pending applications, which would leave only Regular Decision decisions coming later in the year, the temptation to break the contract and walk off would be lessened to a degree.

And Penn’s “yield” might be improved if only by a little bit.

When asked how big a problem this had become, Penn had “no information available” on the number of ED contracts broken last year or in previous years. Other sources familiar with Penn admissions suggested that at least within the past five years, the number was negligible.

For the record, students applying early under Penn’s Early Decision program “cannot simultaneously” apply to another private* college or university under their early notification program, including “Early Decision, Restrictive Early Action (also known as Single-Choice Early Action), or Early Action.” Students may apply to any
  • public college/university that offers non-binding admissions,
  • foreign college/university, or
  • college/university with non-binding early deadlines for scholarships.
*Note that an earlier version of the policy published last week on the Penn website also covered early action programs at public institutions, including a student’s in-state options, but in the face of protests, Penn backed away and changed its restriction to cover only private institutions.

Jul 23, 2016

A conversation with Annie Reznik on the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success

University of Washington
As the new Executive Director of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, Annie Reznik has a huge set of responsibilities and a never-ending list of projects related to ensuring a smooth launch of the 2016-17 Coalition application platform later this month.

“Right now I am laser-focused on ensuring a seamless application launch for member schools and the students who will use the Coalition application,” explained Reznik. “The challenges of leading an organization in its infancy are immense—but the promise of the Coalition is incredible and I feel so fortunate to be in a position to help build this bridge.”

As a former counselor, Reznik is very aware of how important information is to anyone working on the frontlines with college applicants and their families. And to improve communications with the counseling community, Reznik is making full use of the Coalition’s behind-the-scenes counselor advisory group, has created a monthly newsletter going out to the Coalition’s mailing list, and is making herself available for interviews or question-and-answer sessions.

“I am happy to provide information, as it’s very important that counselors have the tools necessary to do their jobs,” said Reznik. 

This past week, Reznik agreed to answer a series of questions coming from within the counseling community on various issues related to the launch of the Coalition application.  

Question:  With all the promotion around the mission of the Coalition application, there exists some confusion as to who “should” use the application. Students and counselors have indicated some concern about using a tool that may be “reserved” for low-income or underrepresented groups. Is the Coalition application only for low-income, minority or first generation students? If no, how would you explain to students that while you’re hoping the new application will be a “better” tool for these groups, it’s not meant to be exclusive to them and member colleges will not have negative feelings about students choosing to use it?

Answer:  The Coalition tools, including the Locker, Collaboration Space, and Application are available to all students. As member institutions and others engage in outreach initiatives for lower-resourced students, these tangible tools will anchor that important work. Any student is welcome to use the Coalition application as well as the free college planning tools.

Question:  It is my understanding that you are open to having a working relationship with Naviance and that a PDF was initially developed with assistance from Naviance outlining how Naviance schools should work with the Coalition for this year and into the future. This project was put on hold after Naviance changed course, backed away from the project and declined to work on developing a partnership. Hobsons, the corporate head of Naviance, has indicated they intend to watch the “market” to see if there is any reason to work with the Coalition. For now, they seem to have no intention of providing support to counselors using Naviance tools with the Coalition application—it doesn’t appear to be in their corporate interests. So, what is the status of your relationship with Naviance? Do you foresee ever having a relationship or integrating similar to the ways in which the Common Application works with Naviance?

Answer:  First, there is a difference in the way that documents are shared in the Coalition platform as compared to other applications. In other electronic transmission situations, secondary schools share materials with colleges on behalf of students. With the Coalition application, schools share materials with students in virtually sealed envelopes. Then, the student submits these documents to colleges. Putting the student at the center of this process is important particularly for students coming from less resourced secondary schools. This ensures fewer barriers to submitting an application. It also creates less work for counselors who carry heavy student caseloads—they simply provide a single, confidential, electronic set of documents to each student.

We are committed to providing a no-cost, simple tool for transmission of secondary school materials. Submission of materials through the Coalition application is as simple as adding an attachment to an email. All schools, whether they use Guided Path, Maia Learning, Naviance, PowerSchool or any other system, will be able to send transcripts, letters of recommendation, and other official documentation through the Coalition platform. Again, simple, free transmission of materials is an essential component of a process that is accessible for all students. And counselors will be able to see the list of schools to which the student applies.

As to future partnerships with any of these school-based systems, there are no immediate plans to integrate technologies with any one system.

Question: Is it true that only a couple of colleges will be Coalition-exclusive? Are others with school-specific CollegeNET applications considering dropping the “old” application in favor of going Coalition-exclusive sometime after launch?

Answer: There are three colleges that plan to accept the Coalition application rather than continue to offer students an institution-based application. The University of Florida and the University of Washington intend to make that change in 2016, while the University of Maryland has decided to make the Coalition application their sole application in 2017.  These colleges plan to accept the Coalition application rather than continue to offer students an institution-based application. I like to think of them as “Coalition inclusive” since this is the first time that students can apply to the University of Florida, the University of Maryland, and the University of Washington at the same time or alongside a number of other colleges.

Both the University of Florida and the University of Washington plan to accept the Coalition application in 2016 and the University of Maryland has deferred to 2017. ​Others may make this shift in future years.​

Question:   Is the Coalition still on track for officially launching at the end of July? Do you have a specific launch date?  Can you clarify that just because the application is ready for use, many members will delay launching their individual applications. For example, Swarthmore will go live on August 1 while the University of Washington will go live on October 1. Can you reassure counselors that this is not unusual? In fact, many Common App colleges don’t go live on opening day. I understand these decisions are either technology-driven or intentional strategy. While sometimes annoying, this isn’t the fault of the application provider. Applications effectively roll out in waves—not all at once. Can you explain this from the Coalition’s perspective?

Answer:  The Coalition application is on schedule. No college will begin accepting applications before the end of July and each institution will determine their own "open date." There is a balance with serving both students and individual institutions with unique priorities. Some schools do not want students to apply before mid-September and so they control for that in the only way possible—by not accepting applications. Other member institutions recognize that students may want to use the summer to complete applications and so they will make their application available much earlier. In some cases a later start is related to readiness, but in ​most cases schools are merely following long-held application windows.

Question:  At the HECA conference, the Coalition panel presented examples of how different colleges (Yale, Pomona etc.) might import materials stored in the Student Locker for various kinds of application requirements (graded papers, resumes etc.). The panel was careful to say that these were simply “examples” and not meant to be real illustrations. Can you give me some “real” examples? As you know, some of these kinds of materials benefit from a little advance planning (now where is that paper?).

Some of our members are on a shared platform for the first time and are taking a brand new look at how they ask questions. Others have been part of a consortium application that has served them well and they are replicating that application as much as possible so that students have a similar experience regardless of the platform. Other schools will take advantage of the opportunity for their institutional identity to be reflected through an application that provides individual schools greater latitude.
Question:  The Common Application allows for ten extracurricular activities to be reported on their application. How many will the Coalition application allow?

Answer:  The Coalition application asks students to identify two primary extracurricular activities. Students are invited to share up to six additional activities as well, for a total of eight​ activities.​

Question:  There is some grumbling about the self-reported grades (too much work like the University of California application). Can you explain why you are expanding the application to allow for reporting of grades from freshman year forward and how this will actually benefit applicants and their school counselors? Do you know of schools planning to drop the transcript requirement during the application phase in favor of depending on self-reported grades? 

Answer:  ​I don't think that the Coalition application will drive college and university behavior in that way—rather it is the institutions themselves that are driving the development of the Coalition application. ​​The reason that high school coursework and grades are included in the Profile is because the Coalition platform is designed to help students have a keen sense of their academic performance throughout high school--grades are certainly a part of that.​ For some member schools this​ ​self-reported ​information in the Profile section ultimately ​​becomes part of the student's ​the application. 

Question:  The Coalition appears to be recommending a 500 to 540 word limit for the personal statement. I see that some members are setting their own limits. For example the University of Florida suggests that the personal statement submitted to that institution not exceed 500 words. Will these kinds of restrictions be noted on an application-by-application basis? And will the limits be enforced by software?

Answer:  Word limits will not be enforced by the software.
Question:  Online resumes or portfolios are very trendy. You have the Student Locker and the Common App has a partnership with ZeeMee. Can you speak to how the Locker is different and possibly less subject to outside curation/influence?  It occurs to me that ZeeMee is offering the opportunity to build an online resume while the Student Locker is mostly a storage facility with an opportunity for students to get feedback on specific items. Is that accurate?

Answer:  The Locker is not a portfolio. And, the Locker is not a component of a student's college application. The Locker is secure place for students to maintain a record of what matters to them. The Locker is designed to allow students the opportunity to share those materials with a trusted advisor. There are many​ broad​ applications that I foresee--English teachers working on a personal writing unit with students, a Robotics instructor commenting on design features, a dean of students reviewing a draft of a student's speech as they run for class president, or a place to keep a letter of recommendation from a service project coordinator.

Some member colleges are very excited about the Locker because it creates flexibility and opportunity for collecting new and different information in the application process in a way that doesn't impose greater pressure on students.

Question:  Will the Coalition application include the ability for students to link to online media similar to that which the Universal College Application has provided for years? This would be a question or “field” enabling a student to provide a “live” link to a website or YouTube video or whatever.

Answer:  This type of question may be included within the institution specific questions. Students can attach media to their Locker which can then be imported to the application and therefore shared with colleges.

Question: Will the Coalition application “rollover” from year-to-year? If yes, what information will the Coalition roll over? Along these same lines, some counselors have asked if information in the Student Locker will be available for export to other applications (including online job or internship applications and/or scholarship applications).  For some, this is very important if students are going to store valuable documents and materials in the Student Locker that they hope to be able to use after they are in college.

Answer:  The Profile section of the Coalition platform is dynamic. Students will be encouraged to update their Profile as they advance throughout high school. The Locker does not have an "end date." We are glad that students will continue to have access to their Locker for a variety of reasons, but particularly as we think about students who will transfer institutions.
Question:  Is it true that if a student registers for one CollegeNET application, they have registered for all? In other words, if a student registers for an application provided by a school outside of the Coalition network, the account will carry over to other CollegeNET applications (password etc.) both within the network and outside of the network, and the basic registration information will be prepopulated onto those applications. Could you clarify how this exchange of information will work and what information will carry over?

Answer:  The same basic, registration credentials can be used for all CollegeNET applications, these fields include name, email address and date of birth

Question:  Will the Coalition Application automatically hide test scores from member colleges that are test optional or test flexible? How will this happen?

Answer:  Individual colleges and universities make the decision about whether or not to require the testing portion of the profile. If they require it, then the student can import their self-reported scores directly into the application. If an individual institution does not require scores, they will not receive that data.

 As I mentioned in reference to self-reported grades, I think that it is important to think of the Profile beyond the application--it's a resource for students to capture the whole of their secondary school experience (including scores).

Question:  Will you be providing “live” support to students and/or counselors? In addition to submitting written questions to a help desk, what kinds of “real time” support will you be offering?

Answer:  CollegeNet will provide technical support to students through their Help Desk. The Help Desk will be staffed from 6 AM PT to 6 PM PT Monday through Friday. They will add Sunday support in September. They will also staff until midnight around key deadline periods.  CollegeNet will forward any Coalition or institution-specific questions to the Coalition to generate responses. There will not be phone or "live" online support.

Question:  I understand that a committee has been assigned to investigate ways the Coalition can expand its membership. Could you give me some of the possible changes in membership criteria that the group will be voting on in September? I hear that as many as 300 additional colleges may qualify as a result of these changes. Is that correct?

Answer:  Last fall, (as it was publicly announced) the Coalition created a Membership Task Force chaired by Zina Evans, of the University of Florida, and William Fitzsimmons, of Harvard University, to investigate membership criteria. The recommendation from the Task Force was shared at our membership meeting on June 13 and is currently under consideration by member schools.

Jul 21, 2016

In preparation for the August 1 launch of its 2016–17 application, the Common Application will be going off line for a little retooling on Thursday, July 21, 2016, at 5:00 p.m. EDT.

Unlike in previous years, information already entered onto the Common App within the Common App tab will “roll over” and be ready and waiting for students continuing with their applications after August 1, 2016. Information that will roll over includes entries within:

· Profile
· Family
· Education
· Testing
· Activities
· Writing

Information that will not roll over includes:

· Answers to college-specific questions
· Recommender invitations
· Forms submitted by recommenders
· Your Release Authorization and FERPA selection
· Responses to questions that have been changed or removed

Previously submitted applications and recommendation forms will not be saved. If you would like copies of these materials for your files, you must save or print them out by clicking on the .pdf icon next to colleges listed on their “dashboards.” Obviously, this needs to be done before the Common App goes temporarily dark on July 21.

Note that the icon will not appear if you did not complete the application process for any of the colleges remaining on your dashboard. You can only save submitted applications.

Students still finalizing plans for fall 2016, who wish to apply to Common App member schools with rolling deadlines or deadlines after July 21 should contact individual colleges for instructions on how to submit applications. Many of these colleges have their own electronic applications posted on their websites, which applicants are free to use.

Also, students who applied during 2015–16 through the Common App by creating a “First Year” account will be able to change their account to a Transfer account, if they wish. Although the complete application will not roll over, the responses entered into the Common App tab will still be there.

On August 1, the Common Application will magically reappear with a few minor tweaks and changes that will hardly be noticeable. Students will be able to use their same login — email and password — to access their accounts. They will be asked a couple of questions to get started and then they will be good to go.

For the record, most U.S. colleges and universities contract with individual application providers other than the Common Application. Their timelines for opening accounts, completing forms, and submitting applications will vary. And you have to do your research to discover which colleges accept which applications.

For example, the Universal College Application (UCA) already went live on July 1, with at least 46 member institutions, many of which are prepared to accept applications immediately. And the Coalition application will be available sometime the last week in July, with about 56 members ready to launch individual applications on timelines they independently establish.

If you are California dreaming, you are welcome to begin filling out the form used by the entire University of California system on August 1. The completed application must then be submitted between November 1 and 30.

And if you’re applying to one of the colleges in the Texas system, you will be using the ApplyTexas form, which goes live on August 1.

As long as you’re researching application options, you can begin gathering essay questions or prompts for 2016–17. The Common App and the Coalition application have remarkably similar prompts for their personal statements, while the UCA is much less directive in approach and essentially asks applicants to write an essay on a topic of their choice as well as to provide a short (100 to 150 words) activity description. Cappex, the latest entry into the application market, has its own prompt but anything you write for the other three applications should work here.

Be aware that while the Common App and the UCA allow a 650-word essay, Cappex wants no more than 600 words and the Coalition strongly recommends something more along the lines of 500 to 550 words. Other colleges may want even shorter personal statements.

In other words, it may be in your best interests to go shorter rather than longer! In any event, there’s no reason not to begin brainstorming one or more of the questions to have ready for August 1.
But for many colleges, the personal statement is just the beginning. You may also be asked to write for each school on your list anywhere from one to as many as seven or more college-specific essays or short answers, the prompts for which are also slowly rolling out for 2016–17.

These pesky, but very important, questions can usually be found on individual college websites or by subscribing to aggregating services like All College Application Essays or College Essay Organizer.

There’s a good deal to keep you busy between now and August 1. So much, in fact, that you probably won’t even miss the Common App for the nine days or so it’s off line.

Jul 1, 2016

Getting started: 16 college-specific essay prompts for 2016-17

In what is shaping up to be a challenging year for college applicants and their advisers, one ray of light may be the level of effort some colleges appear to be putting into updating their websites with application requirements for 2016-17.

And this includes descriptions of new policies and deadlines as well as posting of essay prompts and writing supplements.

In all fairness, it looks like some schools have decided this is not the year to make major revisions in their writing requirements.  Bringing on new technology or adding a new application option may be enough for one year.

Nevertheless, it’s helpful for some students, particularly those returning to school early or those with significant fall obligations, to be able to get started on essays sooner rather than later. And with many colleges adding early admission options and/or moving up deadlines to coincide with this year’s early launch of the federal financial aid application, the smallest bit of extra time can only help.

For the record, essay prompts and other application specifications are almost always found on college websites. The Common Application and the Coalition Application have already posted prompts for personal statements, although one sets a 650-word limit enforced by software and the other strongly suggests a 550-word limit not enforced by software.  

The Universal College Application (UCA) gives the applicant freedom to write on whatever topic they wish and allows for 650 words.  The Cappex Application offers a required 600-word personal statement along with a second optional essay.

For the Common App, the Coalition App and the UCA, member colleges are free to decide whether or not to require a personal statement and many will opt out of this requirement.  Supplementary essays will be at the discretion of individual colleges and will either come as questions within the body of the application or as separate writing supplements. Note that the Cappex Application will not include additional writing requirements.

With luck, applicants will find supplementary essay prompts posted in advance of official application launch dates, which appear to vary from college to college. Some will launch on July 1, and others won’t launch until October 1, 2016.

Here is a sample of colleges that have already posted their additional essay prompts for 2016-17 (University of Virginia prompts may be found here):

To satisfy Amherst's supplementary writing requirement for the first-year application, you may choose either Option A or Option B, described below.  

Option A   Respond to one of the following quotations in an essay of not more than 300 words. 
“Rigorous reasoning is crucial in mathematics, and insight plays an important secondary role these days. In the natural sciences, I would say that the order of these two virtues is reversed. Rigor is, of course, very important. But the most important value is insight—insight into the workings of the world. It may be because there is another guarantor of correctness in the sciences, namely, the empirical evidence from observation and experiments.” Kannan Jagannathan, Professor of Physics, Amherst College
“Translation is the art of bridging cultures. It's about interpreting the essence of a text, transporting its rhythms and becoming intimate with its meaning... Translation, however, doesn't only occur across languages: mentally putting any idea into words is an act of translation; so is composing a symphony, doing business in the global market, understanding the roots of terrorism. No citizen, especially today, can exist in isolation-- that is, I untranslated."  Il├ín Stavans, Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture, Amherst College, Robert Croll '16 and Cedric Duquene '15, from "Interpreting Terras Irradient," Amherst Magazine, Spring 2015.  

“Creating an environment that allows students to build lasting friendships, including those that cut across seemingly entrenched societal and political boundaries...requires candor about the inevitable tensions, as well as about the wonderful opportunities, that diversity and inclusiveness create."
Carolyn "Biddy" Martin, 19th President of Amherst College, from Letter to Amherst College Alumni and Families, December 28, 2015. 

“Difficulty need not foreshadow despair or defeat. Rather, achievement can be all the more satisfying because of obstacles surmounted.” Attributed to William Hastie, Amherst College Class of 1925, the first African-American to serve as a judge for the United States Court of Appeals

Option B  Submit a graded paper from your junior or senior year that best represents your writing skills and analytical abilities.We are particularly interested in your ability to construct a tightly reasoned, persuasive argument that calls upon literary, sociological or historical evidence.You should NOT submit a laboratory report, journal entry, creative writing sample or in-class essay.

The supplemental essay is located within the member questions section of the Common Application and is NOT a separate writing supplement

In an effort to understand your interests and aspirations for college, we ask you to select one of the three topics below and provide a response of up to 250 words.

Bowdoin students and alumni often cite world-class faculty and opportunities for intellectual engagement, the College’s commitment to the Common Good, and the special quality of life on the coast of Maine as important aspects of the Bowdoin experience.

Reflecting on your own interests and experiences, please comment on one of the following:

    1. Intellectual engagement
    2. The Common Good
    3. Connection to place

In addition to your personal statement, Colgate requires a supplemental short-answer essay, applicable for both the Common Application and the Coalition Application.  Please respond, in 250 words or less, to one of the following prompts:
·       The Mission Statement for Colgate University sets forth 13 Goals for a Colgate Education. One goal for Colgate students is listed as: Be engaged citizens and strive for a just society: embrace the responsibilities to local, national, and global communities; use their influence for the benefit of others. Please describe how you would embrace this goal as a Colgate student.
·       Colgate prides itself in tradition. Please describe a religious, cultural, or family tradition you can share with the Colgate community.
·       We want to get to know you better. What are three words that your best friend would use to describe you and why?
·       Colgate's core curriculum teaches students empathy, informed debate, and critical thinking. Please tell us what book or piece of literature you believe is important for the entire Colgate Class of 2021 to read. Why?

The following question is required for Engineering applicants.
• If you are applying to the Pratt School of Engineering as either a first-year or transfer applicant, please discuss why you want to study engineering and why you would like to study at Duke. (150 words maximum)
The following question is required for Arts & Sciences applicants.
• If you are applying to the Trinity College of Arts & Sciences as either a first-year or transfer applicant, please discuss why you consider Duke a good match for you. Is there something particular about Duke that attracts you? (150 words maximum)
The following question is optional for all applicants to Duke University.
• Duke University seeks a talented, engaged student body that embodies the wide range of human experience; we believe that the diversity of our students makes our community stronger. If you'd like to share a perspective you bring or experiences you've had to help us understand you better—perhaps related to a community you belong to, your sexual orientation or gender identity, or your family or cultural background—we encourage you to do so. Real people are reading your application, and we want to do our best to understand and appreciate the real people applying to Duke. (250 words maximum)

[Y]ou will be asked to respond to the prompts below on the Georgia Tech page on your My Colleges tab. The questions will be found in the Questions section - Other Information subsection.
  • Beyond rankings, location, and athletics, why are you interested in attending Georgia Tech? (max 150 words)
  • Please choose ONE of the following questions and provide an answer in 150 words or less.
    • Tech’s motto is Progress and Service. We find that students who ultimately have a broad impact first had a significant one at home. What is your role in your immediate or extended family, and how have you seen evidence of your impact on them?
    • Students are often told what classes they should take. If you had the opportunity to create a class, what would it be and why?
    • We challenge our students to "be comfortable being uncomfortable." Tell us about a time in high school that you felt outside of your comfort zone and the resolution.
Short Essay
Briefly discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which you have been most involved. (approximately one-half page)
Compose two brief essays (approximately one page single-spaced each) on the topics given below.
ALL APPLICANTS: As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in your own words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you. 

Essay Two
·       APPLICANTS TO GEORGETOWN COLLEGE: Please relate your interest in studying at Georgetown University to your goals. How do these thoughts relate to your chosen course of study? (If you are applying to major in the FLL or in a Science, please specifically address those interests.)
·       APPLICANTS TO THE SCHOOL OF NURSING & HEALTH STUDIES: Describe the factors that have influenced your interest in studying health care at Georgetown University. Please specifically address your intended major (Health Care Management & Policy, Human Science, International Health, or Nursing).
·       APPLICANTS TO THE WALSH SCHOOL OF FOREIGN SERVICE: Briefly discuss a current global issue, indicating why you consider it important and what you suggest should be done to deal with it.
·       APPLICANTS TO THE MCDONOUGH SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: The McDonough School of Business is a national and global leader in providing graduates with essential ethical, analytical, financial and global perspectives. Please discuss your motivations for studying business at Georgetown.

Johns Hopkins University*
Johns Hopkins University was founded in 1876 on a spirit of exploration and discovery. As a result, students can pursue a multi-dimensional undergraduate experience both in and outside of the classroom. Given the opportunities at Hopkins, please discuss your current interests—academic or extracurricular pursuits, personal passions, summer experiences, etc.—and how you will build upon them here.

Northwestern University*
We ask an intentionally open-ended question: why would you like to attend [“Why Northwestern”]? When you answer, focus on your interests or experiences.

Pomona College*

Most Pomona students enter the College undecided about a major, or they change their minds about their prospective major by the time they graduate. Certainly we aren't going to hold you to any of the choices you've made above. But please do tell us why you've listed the major or majors (or Undecided!) that you have (in no more than 250 words).

  1. Each year, the Pomona Student Union hosts a “Great Debate.” Thought leaders with opposing views on a certain issue are invited to make their case in front of the student body. What is an issue that you think has two or more sides and what views would be important to capture in order to understand the nuances of the debate?  Why do you think it would be important for the Pomona student body to be exposed to this debate?
  2. Tell us about a subject that you couldn't stop exploring, a book you couldn't put down, or a Wikipedia rabbit hole you dove into. Why did it fascinate you?
  3. Pomona has a long history of bringing together students of diverse backgrounds who want to push intellectual limits and who want to engage in a community that values difference. Write about a time when you were aware of your difference.  How did it change you and what did you learn from the experience?
Candidates respond to all three essay topics. (250 word limit for each essay.)
  1. Stanford students possess an intellectual vitality. Reflect on an idea or experience that has been important to your intellectual development.
  2. Virtually all of Stanford's undergraduates live on campus. Write a note to your future roommate that reveals something about you or that will help your roommate—and us—know you better.
  3. What matters to you, and why?
Trinity College*
You may select one of the following prompts and write an essay of 250-650 words.

We live in an urban-global age with over half of the planet's inhabitants living in cities. Trinity College is an urban liberal arts college deeply engaged with the local community and committed to making an impact across the world. How do you aspire to use your education to impact local and global communities?

Our mission states: "Trinity College is a community united in a quest for excellence in liberal arts education. Our purpose is to foster critical thinking, free the mind of parochialism and prejudice, and prepare students to lead examined lives that are personally satisfying, civically responsible, and socially useful." How would you engage the mission of Trinity College during your years on campus?

Question 1 (Required):
How does the University of Chicago, as you know it now, satisfy your desire for a particular kind of learning, community, and future? Please address with some specificity your own wishes and how they relate to UChicago.

Question 2 (Optional):
Share with us a few of your favorite books, poems, authors, films, plays, pieces of music, musicians, performers, paintings, artists, blogs, magazines, or newspapers. Feel free to touch on one, some, or all of the categories listed, or add a category of your own.

Extended Essay Questions (Required)

Essay Option 1.
What is square one, and can you actually go back to it?
Essay Option 2.
Once, renowned physicist Werner Heisenberg said: “There is a fundamental error in separating the parts from the whole, the mistake of atomizing what should not be atomized. Unity and complementarity constitute reality.” Whether it’s Georges Seurat’s pointillism in “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,” the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, quantum physics, or any other field of your choosing, when can the parts be separated from the whole and when can they not?
Essay Option 3.
The ball is in your court—a penny for your thoughts, but say it, don’t spray it. So long as you don’t bite off more than you can chew, beat around the bush, or cut corners, writing this essay should be a piece of cake. Create your own idiom, and tell us its origin—you know, the whole nine yards. PS: A picture is worth a thousand words.
Essay Option 4.
Alice falls down the rabbit hole. Milo drives through the tollbooth. Dorothy is swept up in the tornado. Neo takes the red pill. Don’t tell us about another world you’ve imagined, heard about, or created. Rather, tell us about its portal. Sure, some people think of the University of Chicago as a portal to their future, but please choose another portal to write about.
Essay Option 5.
Vestigiality refers to genetically determined structures or attributes that have apparently lost most or all of their ancestral function, but have been retained during the process of evolution. In humans, for instance, the appendix is thought to be a vestigial structure. Describe something vestigial (real or imagined) and provide an explanation for its existence.
Essay Option 6.
In the spirit of adventurous inquiry, pose your own question or choose one of our past prompts. Be original, creative, thought provoking. Draw on your best qualities as a writer, thinker, visionary, social critic, sage, citizen of the world, or future citizen of the University of Chicago; take a little risk, and have fun.

In addition to the essay you provide with your Common Application, please choose two of the following prompts and respond to each in 200-250 words. (Transfer Applicants will be asked to choose from these same prompts).
  • Tell us a story that helps us better understand a person, place, or thing you find inspiring.
  • What do you hope will change about the place where you live?
  • Tell us about a small goal you hope to achieve, whether in the next 10 days, 10 months, or 10 years.
  • What will be the best breakthrough—whether scientific, social, economic, or other—between now and 2025?
Essay #1 (Required for all applicants. Approximately 250 words.)
Everyone belongs to many different communities and/or groups defined by (among other things) shared geography, religion, ethnicity, income, cuisine, interest, race, ideology, or intellectual heritage. Choose one of the communities to which you belong, and describe that community and your place within it.
Essay #2 (Required for all applicants. 500 words maximum.) FRESHMEN APPLICANTS
Describe the unique qualities that attract you to the specific undergraduate College or School (including preferred admission and dual degree programs) to which you are applying at the University of Michigan. How would that curriculum support your interests?

How will you explore your intellectual and academic interests at the University of Pennsylvania? Please answer this question given the specific undergraduate school to which you are applying.

Please note: the Williams Writing Supplement is optional.

At Williams we believe that bringing together students and professors in small groups produces extraordinary academic outcomes. Our distinctive Oxford-style tutorial classes—in which two students are guided by a professor in deep exploration of a single topic—are a prime example. Each week the students take turns developing independent work—an essay, a problem set, a piece of art—and critiquing their partner’s work. Focused on close reading, writing, and oral defense of ideas, more than 70 tutorials a year are offered across the curriculum, with titles like “Biomedical Ethics,” “Women in National Politics,” and  “Extraterrestrial Life in the Galaxy: a Sure Thing or a Snowball’s Chance?”

Imagine yourself in a tutorial at Williams. Of anyone in the world, whom would you choose to be the other student in the class, and why? (Please limit your response to 300 words.)

*Admissions office called to confirm