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What’s New With the Common App?: Tips and Facts for Your Applications

Every year around this time, we gather college essay deadlines and supplemental essay questions for the 200+ colleges that are most popular with our students. We then take this information and make it available to you through AppView, which emails school-specific deadline and essay information directly to you.

As a result of our research this year, we have compiled a few fun facts relating to the 2014-15 Common Application and its member schools. First up: our favorite new supplemental essay questions for 2014-15. Many schools keep the same questions year after year, or only update them every few years. The six Common App schools below developed these new essay prompts for the 2014-15 application cycle.

Favorite New Supplemental College Essay Questions

  • Brandeis University: What one invention would you uninvent if you could, and why?
  • Carleton College: Carleton is powered by wind turbines. What empowers you?
  • Dartmouth College: Every name tells a story: Tell us about your name—any name: first, middle, last, nickname—and its origin.
  • University of Chicago: What’s so odd about odd numbers?
  • University of Notre Dame: A good story starts with a good beginning. Get us hooked in the first 150 words.
  • West Virginia University, Honors College: What is the most dangerous sentence in the world, and why?

Five popular Common Application schools are now offering Early Decision. If you’ve done your research and are in love with one of these schools, applying ED may be right for you!

Select Common App Schools Now Offering Early Decision

  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Clark University
  • Loyola University Maryland
  • Northeastern University
  • University of San Francisco

The majority of seniors are looking to begin college in the fall following high school graduation. But did you know that dozens of Common App colleges offer admission for spring term? If you’re applying to a selective college that welcomes freshmen in the spring, you may improve your chances of admission by applying for this less common term!

Select Common App Schools With Spring 2015 Entry

  • American University
  • Bates College
  • Boston College
  • Boston University
  • Brandeis University
  • Connecticut College
  • Pepperdine University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Syracuse University
  • The George Washington University
  • University of Delaware
  • University of Miami

Sometimes students don’t discover their “dream” school until late fall or early winter of senior year. And sometimes students who did apply to their dream school ED are disappointed in December when they are either deferred or denied. But did you know that a growing number of Common Application colleges offer Early Decision 2 – a binding admission program with deadlines often on January 1 or January 15? Consider some of these great options below.

Select Common App Schools Offering Early Decision 2

  • Bates College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Bucknell University
  • Claremont McKenna College
  • Colgate University
  • Davidson College
  • Emory University
  • Lehigh University
  • Middlebury College
  • New York University
  • Oberlin College
  • Occidental College
  • Pomona College
  • Reed College
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Skidmore College
  • Smith College
  • Swarthmore College
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Vassar College

A spate of colleges are turning to test-optional admissions policies, with Temple University and Montclair State University having made two of the most recent announcements. If your GPA is strong but your SAT/ACT scores are not, you may want to consider applying to one (or more) of these test-optional colleges. At these schools, the strength of your transcript (including grades, rigor, and breadth of coursework), essays, and letters of recommendation will play the largest role in your admissions decision. (For a full listing of test-optional colleges, visit FairTest.org.)

Select Common App Test Optional Schools

  • American University
  • Bard College
  • Bates College
  • Beloit College
  • Bowdoin College
  • Brandeis University
  • Clark University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Fairfield University
  • Hofstra University
  • Ithaca College
  • Loyola University Maryland
  • Pitzer College
  • Providence College
  • Smith College
  • Wake Forest University
  • Wesleyan University
  • Worcester Polytechnic Institute

In part III of our Common App tips blog, we wrote about an issue regarding some Common App schools that each require writing supplements, yet appear on an applicant’s “Dashboard” as though they don’t. Here, however, are 22 Common App schools that definitely do not require the submission of any additional essays.

Select Common App Schools Without Additional Essays

  • Bard College
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Eckerd College
  • Fairfield University
  • Fordham University
  • Gettysburg College
  • Hobart & William Smith Colleges
  • Ithaca College
  • Middlebury College
  • Muhlenberg College
  • Northeastern University
  • Skidmore College
  • SUNY Binghamton
  • Temple University
  • Trinity College
  • University of Denver
  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  • University of Miami
  • University of New Hampshire
  • University of Rhode Island
  • University of Vermont
  • Washington University in St. Louis



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Written by Elyse Krantz
Elyse Krantz is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Elyse received her BA in linguistics from Dartmouth College and her MA from Teachers College, Columbia University. Prior to joining College Coach, Elyse worked as an admissions officer at Barnard College and Bennington College.