The Common Application’s Additional Essay

We know that in the college admissions arena, we are living in a world of uncertainty.

We know that in the college admissions arena, we are living in a world of uncertainty. All students are living with the uncertainty of whether standardized testing will carry on as can be seen by some of the universities restructuring their optional or partial test optional policies. Your teachers are living with uncertainty, and I can tell you from all the Zoom opportunities with admission representatives from a variety of universities, they are living with uncertainty and they all say, in the world of admissions, we are all in this together. 

Because of all the uncertainty, The Common Application has revealed an additional question to be placed on the application having to do with the disruption of the lives of high school students and postsecondary plans. Below, in bold is an excerpt from their page (www.common

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives and postsecondary plans for many students. We want to reduce anxiety for applicants affected by these events and provide them with a way to share their experience with colleges and universities. 

Next year, on the 2020-2021 application, Common App will provide students who need it with a dedicated space to elaborate on the impact of the pandemic, both personally and academically. We want to provide colleges with the information they need, with the goal of having students answer COVID-19 questions only once while using the rest of the application as they would have before to share their interests and perspectives beyond COVID-19. 

Below is the questions applicants will see: 

Community disruptions such s COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces. 

  • Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N
  • Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you

The question will be optional and will appear in the Additional Information section of the application. The response length will be limited to 250 words.

Note that this does not replace the Additional Information where students might add reflections that are not included in their application. 

This is an optional question. So, who should answer this question and what should be included? The question might reveal very unique circumstances a student encounters. While everyone of us was sequestered and quarantined, many of us grew (your parents, your grandparents, siblings, maybe even your pets!) in ways we never could have imagined. We all are Zoom experts, though some better than others, we may have figured out how to find great exercise programs online, perhaps we became more adept in the kitchen, we all perhaps learned more about our neighbors and neighborhood, no doubt, we learned how to ration a variety of products from toilet paper, kleenex and perhaps some food products as well. We have learned to be extraordinarily creative. 

For some, there was an eye opening of experiences. There may have been harsh evacuations back home, or to a place that wasn’t even home, loss of a family member, lack of food, crowded living conditions, lack of internet or internet availability only at certain times of the day. Maybe you could only do school in the middle of the night, therefore, turning your nights into day. Maybe, there were some ‘aha’ moments that took you by surprise. Perhaps you became closer as a family, maybe you had a moment that the COVID virus made you aware of where your path in life is going to take you. 

Admissions is not going to throw your application out if this prompt is left blank.  But, if you have something compelling to say, by all means, say it and say it well. 

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