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2017-18 Common Application Guide

The 2017-18 Common Application opened on August 1, marking the start of the college admissions season for the college class of 2022. Here’s an in-depth look at the 2017-18 Common Application, including changes, essays, updates, and more.

Revised and New Essay Prompts
The main Common Application essay prompts have been revised, with the wording slightly altered on some, and the addition of two new prompts. The most notable change is the addition of the “topic of choice” essay prompt, which was removed a few years ago. This is an exciting development for many students who may feel like the previous topics were not broad enough for the essays they wanted to write. Here are the 2017-18 Common Application essay topics:

  • Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. (NO CHANGE)
  • The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? (REVISED)
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? (REVISED)
  • 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. (NO CHANGE)
  • Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. (REVISED)
  • Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? (NEW)
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. (NEW)

Self-Reported Transcripts
The new Courses & Grades section of the Common Application, which debuted this year, will allow students to easily fill out their transcript information directly within the Common Application. This new tool aims to make the process of self-reporting grades and classes easier for students who will be required to send that self-reported information anyway as part of their college application to a particular institution.

Google Drive Integration
Now students can keep all their relevant documents, like resumes, essays, assignments, and other important materials, in one place and easily upload them into their Common Application with the new Google Drive integration. This development is very similar to the Coalition Application’s “locker” feature, which also allows students to keep important application materials in one place in order to easily upload them to their application when needed.

Advisor Access
Students who are working with an independent counselor, a community-based organization, or other outside college admissions advisor will be able to work with them in the Common Application just like they would with their school-based college counselor. This will allow independent counselors and other advisors to better work with students, have access directly within the Common Application, and give feedback on in-progress applications.

New Member Colleges
Every year the Common Application adds a number of new member colleges who will start using the application for their college admissions process. Now, the total number of colleges and universities that use the Common Application is a little over 740. Here’s the list of new member colleges added for the 2017-18 admissions cycle.

  • Anderson University (IN)
  • Appalachian State University (NC)
  • Art Academy of Cincinnati (OH)
  • Barton College (NC)
  • Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar
  • Catawba College (NC)
  • Cleveland State University (OH)
  • Defiance College (OH)
  • Dominican College (NY)
  • Duke Kunshan University (China)
  • East Carolina University (NC)
  • Eastern Mennonite University (VA)
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ)
  • Hellenic College (MA)
  • Kent State University (OH)
  • Lincoln Memorial University (TN)
  • Marshall University (WV)
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology (MO)
  • Monash University (Australia)
  • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (IN)
  • Southern California Institute of Architecture (CA)
  • Trine University (IN)
  • Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (Spain)
  • University College Dublin (Ireland)
  • University of Houston (TX)
  • University of Minnesota, Morris (MN)
  • University of Missouri – Kansas City (MO)
  • University of Missouri – St Louis (MO)
  • University of Missouri (MO)
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas -UNLV (NV)
  • University of Northern Colorado (CO)
  • University of Oregon (OR)
  • University of the West (CA)
  • University of Wyoming (WY)
  • Vermont Technical College (VT)
  • Western Michigan University (MI)
  • Wheaton College (IL)
  • York College of Pennsylvania (PA)

2017-18 Coalition Application
Now in its second year, the Coalition application is also open, with 116 colleges accepting the application for admission this year. For the full list of colleges accepting the Coalition application this year, click here. The essay prompts for the Coalition application are the same as last year:

  • Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  • Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
  • Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
  • What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  • Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

For more information on the 2017-18 Coalition application, visit our blog.

Are you ready to get started on your Common Application and essays? At IvyWise, we work with students no matter where they are in the admissions process and help high school seniors with a variety of college counseling needs, like refining their college lists, developing an application strategy to take advantage of early application rounds, essay brainstorming and feedback, and more.

For more information on our programs for seniors and how IvyWise can help you reach your admissions goals this fall, contact us today.