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Posted at 9:00 AM ET, 05/18/2010

Getting started on 2010-11 college applications

By Valerie Strauss

Any high school junior who wants to get a head start on college applications now can see a preview of the entire 2010-11 Common Application.

The Common App won’t actually go live until Aug. 1, a month later than last year, but students can see the information they will need to provide and put it together well in advance of that date.

For those families who don’t know what the Common Application is, here’s the drill: The Common Application is a not-for-profit organization that provides an admission application – online and in print – that students may submit it to any one of 414 member schools--47 of them public institutions -- that accept it.

It was hoped when the Common Application was developed in 1975 that it would ease the admissions process for students by reducing the number of separate applications a student applying to numerous colleges would have to complete. As it has developed, many colleges still require additional information, including more essays.

Here are the essays, with instructions, that will be on the application:

Personal Essay. Please write an essay (250 words minimum) on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below, and attach it to your application before submission. Please indicate your topic by checking the appropriate box. This personal essay helps us become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself.

*Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
*Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
*Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.
*Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.
*A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
*Topic of your choice.

Additional Information: If there is any additional information you’d like to provide regarding special circumstances, additional qualifications, etc., please do so.

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By Valerie Strauss  | May 18, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  College Admissions  | Tags:  college admissions, college applications, common application, common apps  
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