There will be no changes to the Common Application essay prompts for the 2014-2015 admissions cycle, as announced recently by the Common Application. As stated in the Common Application’s press release, “After a positive response from Common Application member colleges and school counselors, The Common Application will retain the current set of first-year essay prompts for 2014-15, without any edits or additions. The essay length will continue to be capped at 650 words. In February of 2013, The Common Application Board of Directors unveiled five new essay prompts, the first major revision in several years. The prompts were the culmination of several years of discussion about the role writing plays in a holistic selection process and were designed with the assistance of 15 counselors on the association’s Outreach Advisory Committee, who worked diligently to ensure that all applicants, regardless of background or access to counseling, would have the chance to tell their unique stories.”
When the Common Application changed the essay prompts, you may remember we stated that in spite of the change in wording, there was a prompt on there that essentially allowed students to continue to write anything meaningful to them. And that prompt is: “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.” Share your story couldn’t be any more vague. This allows students to write the essay of their choice, even if it doesn’t stipulate in those specific words to write whatever you want. Any good creative writer can make their essay fit that question. And anyone who disagrees with us on this particular point — well — they’re just plain wrong.
We’re glad that the Common Application didn’t make any changes to the essay prompts this year as keeping — essentially — the notion of writing a topic of your choice is important. It lets people who are creative be just that…creative. The Common Application got this one right! Just a little while back, the Common Application was considering doing away with such a freeform essay but we fought vigorously against this and we were pleased that the Common App. heard ours — and many others’ — voices.