Jul 25, 2019

First look at 2019-20 writing supplements

Virginia Tech will not be changing essays for 2019-20.

This is an awkward time of year for college admissions. Most colleges have put their fall 2019 classes to bed and are slowly turning attention to the next round of applicants.

To get ready for the coming year, admissions offices have a few administrative chores to take care of. Based on the experience of the preceding year, they typically consider new policies and procedures, revise writing and other requirements, edit websites as necessary and communicate all changes to the various application platforms.

Some do a good job addressing these tasks, particularly when it comes to revising websites. But some colleges are less-than-clear on their websites as to which year(s) or which requirement(s) are in play. On occasion, this is deliberate, as they really don’t have any intention of changing anything and it’s just easier not to bother labeling requirements by year. But other times, they either haven’t gotten around to changing the website or they haven’t quite made the relevant decisions—yet.

Regardless of reason, the absence of a label can be just plain confusing, particularly for those students who really want or need to get their applications going before summer turns to fall.

And frankly, given the pressure to apply early and the drift of deadlines more toward October, it makes little sense for colleges to wait until August 1 to spring new application requirements on applicants. 

Many colleges are sensitive to the fact that students in parts of the country start high school early in August, while other students have various sports and marching camps taking up enormous amounts of time in August and the weeks before school gets underway. These colleges start posting requirements as early as the beginning of June.

And while all three major application platforms—the Common Application, the Coalition Application and the Universal College Application (UCA)—are set up for students to begin completing the personal information sections of their applications and all three have announced prompts for the personal statement, some colleges are painfully slow to release their supplements. Again, this may be on purpose. But it can also stem from a little administrative disorganization.

Luckily, a significant number of colleges have begun releasing requirements for 2019-20. And after a careful review of websites and a few calls to admissions offices, here is what is known so far about writing requirements (member questions, essay supplements) for the coming year:

Common Application/Coalition Application/Universal College Application
Harvard University (scroll down or open the UCA)
James Madison University (open the Coalition Application)
Pomona College (for applicants using the Common App only)
University of Tampa (or open the Coalition Application)

Other Applications
Georgetown University (open an application)
Wake Forest University (note that this is the institutional version; prompts may vary slightly on other versions)

Confirmed Verbally with Admissions
College of William and Mary (this is an older blog—scroll down to the prompt)
Lafayette College

Many of these links were previously posted on the College Explorations Facebook page. As colleges continue to release writing supplements for 2019-20, new links will be added. And note, everything is subject to change (one very high-selective university has already made a significant change in its writing supplement since its original website posting). Please check with individual websites for the most recent and possibly accurate information.

7/27/19  Updated