The Foreign Service Journal - December 2013 - page 54

What Works Better
For You This Year
■The entire application has been
revamped to make it more interactive and
user-friendly, with a new look and feel
designed to be intuitive for a teenager.
The questions are customized so appli-
cants don’t have to answer or even look
at questions that don’t apply to their
situation. For example, if you click on
your parents’ status as “divorced,” you’ll
automatically get a pop-up question to
determine which parent you live with.
■ A new auto-fill feature speeds up
the process of finding high school and
college names and addresses.
■ The word count for the personal
essay has increased substantially.
Earlier versions of the Common App
limited the main essay to 500 words.
Now, students have 650 words to tell
their stories.
■ The five new essay prompts
give you a lot of leeway in your
topics, and are more creative than
most of the old prompts. They also
demand more thought and depth in
your response.
What to Watch Out For
■ The essay prompt “Write on a topic
of your choice” is gone. Not only did
this choice give you more freedom, but
in the past you could easily write your
essay before the start of senior year and
know that it was usable even before that
year’s Common App was released.
■ There is no prompt that focuses
specifically on academics or achieve-
ments, and the former extracurricular
short essay, which allowed students to
write 250 words on their favorite sport
or hobby, has also been discontinued.
The entire application has
been revamped to make it more
interactive and user-friendly.
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