Off Campus

Common App to alter format

By Will Levinson

Next year, the online “Common Application” for colleges and universities will undergo changes involving both the format of the application itself and the software behind it.

According to Director of College Counselor Amy Selinger, major improvements are being made to the Common App. “After over a year of updating, the Common App will be significantly more user-friendly,” said Ms. Selinger.

One of the most significant changes is additional space for answers. In the current version of the Common App, there are strict limitations to write in the fields provided. In the new version, however, there answer fields will expand their limits.

The main essay, which in the past has had a 500-word limit and no minimum, will have a 650-word limit and a 250-word minimum.

“There will be more room for elaboration,” Associate Director of College Counseling Mo Zelaya said, “especially in writing about activities and work experience.”

Sanghoon Lee ’13 agreed: “I’m glad they extended the word limit. It’s really hard to describe yourself in only 500 words.”

The Common App essay prompts are being revised as well. The topic-of-choice essay is being removed, but Ms. Selinger believes these changes have made the questions “much better.”

She said, “The new questions give more guidance than they have in the past, which is an improvement.”

According to Mr. Zelaya, these changes will not affect next year’s seniors because they have never seen the Common App and therefore have nothing to compare the new version to.

Students generally agree that the changes will not have a huge effect on the college application process.

Tyler Sutherland ’14 agreed: “I don’t think the changes will have that large of an impact.”

The Common App is updating its server as well. The current version of the Common App has been around for six or seven years, and it is not able to process the rapidly increasing number of applications and documents sent each year. The new server will be able to handle the high volume. This will make operations run more quickly with fewer jams.

“These changes will bring about a much smoother process,” Mr. Zelaya said. “I’m very excited to see the new version.”
The new Common App will go live on August 1, 2013.

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