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Students, Colleges Applaud Common Application Changes

For most high school students around the U.S., the hardest part of submitting college applications is over, and all that is left to do is wait. While not every high school graduate is bound for college, those that are eying a bachelor’s degree may have used the Common Application to apply to their dream schools.

Changes Made to Help Students

According to the Common Application Fact Sheet, more than 500 schools from 47 states across the country currently accept the application. The number of students accessing the forms is in excess of 720,000, and the popularity of the document continues to grow, meaning that more individuals are relying on the Common App to help decide their future. Because such a diverse array of students use the tool, academic institutions and individuals pushed for several changes that would make it easier for students to reveal more about themselves.

For the 2013-2014 academic year, the Common Application altered its requirements in response to the criticisms. The maximum word count of an essay increased from 500 to 650 words, and several new prompts were added to inspire student writing. While applicants can no longer write about any topic of their choosing, they do have the ability to explore more about their personal identities, past failures, accomplishments and other milestones.

Colleges Learn More About Applicants

The changes were met with widespread approval, and because of that level of success, there are no plans to change the prompts for the 2014-2015 application year. Inside Higher Ed reports that, while reactions were mixed when the adjustments were revealed one year ago, most member schools and admissions officials have grown to appreciate the new rules. Now, 70% of colleges and 90% of school counselors approve of the prompts and find them to be effective, according to a press release.

“I love the new prompts – and not just because they are new,” said Terry Cowdrey, the dean of admission and financial aid at Colby College, in a press release. “I think we are learning more about students.”

Karen Felton, the director of admission at The George Washington University, agreed with the sentiment. She claimed that the new prompts allow students the freedom to write about their own thoughts and experiences while still providing some type of structure.

“I enjoy the new prompts because they allow students to focus more on what they feel is important for colleges to know about them,” she said in the press release.

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