So, the folks over at The Common App went rogue on us this year and changed up all the essay topics. And it seems a lot of people aren’t too happy about the change. We hear ya. Those essay topics were the same for years and years, and there were strategies to figure them out, and analyses of essays that worked! And now, suddenly, just when it’s your turn to apply to college, BAM. All the questions are different – you can’t even make up your own topic anymore! There’s no roadmap. And you’re lost.
But don’t freak out juuuust yet. Change is good, friends. And this particular change is actually awesome. Think of it this way:
1) No Comparisons. Because this is the first time these essay topics are being used, the admissions committee doesn’t quite know what to expect from them. Yes, the topics are in many ways similar to some of the past topics, but these particular questions are brand spanking new. The adcoms don’t have years and years of essays on these topics to compare your essay to. From now on, if they keep these topics around for a while, future essays will be compared to YOURS. That’s a much better spot to be in.
2) Guinea Pig Advantage. You are the first year of applicants to have to contend with these questions, and adcoms know that. You’re the test of this new model. This isn’t to say you can slack off on your essays (DON’T!), but adcoms will be looking at your essays with a fresh set of eyes, with greater attention and interest, because they’re going to be more curious this year about essay content. That’s also a huge advantage.
3) Permission to be Daring. There are probably a few reasons that the Common App changed their essay topics. It’s possible that adcoms were getting too many similar responses, and they were looking for a change. Of COURSE they were bored. Those essay topics stayed the same for YEARS. This year, adcoms want to not be bored. So this year, more than ever, you can be daring in your essays—not only say what hasn’t been said before, but say it differently.
4) The Essay Topics are Awesome. Remember the old topics that asked you to evaluate, discuss, indicate, describe the importance of something to you or the affect something had on you? Those questions were wordy and cumbersome. These new questions are pretty straightforward, and all of them feel more motivating to write about. They cater to YOUR curiosities, YOUR interests, YOUR passions… the things that are really important to YOU. They’ll get you to be specific (which is always more interesting to read) and more personal (again, always more interesting to read.) We think these essays are going to be more fun to write than the last ones because they allow you, from the get-go, to zero in on what’s most important to you, and share it with readers. That’s motivating.
5) Less Choice=Less Anxiety. Come on. Who didn’t get at least a little stressed out by that Topic of Your Choice option, anyway? Topic of Your Choice can produce that nagging voice of self-doubt that says, “Maybe the topic you chose isn’t good enough. Maybe there’s a better one and you just haven’t found it yet. Eh? Eh?” Now you don’t have to worry about it.
Have no fear. The best essay for you is out there, and you’ll find it in one of these five topics. No matter what the question, you just want to find your BEST story… and we’re confident you’ve got a few up your sleeve.
**Check back in a few weeks when we’ll be rolling out our 2013-2014 Common App Essay Analyses.