Common App 2021-2022 Essay Prompts Announced!

2021-2022 Common App Essay Prompts

By Scott Anderson – February 16, 2021

Media

The Common App essay prompts will remain the same for 2021-2022 with one exception. We will retire the seldom used option about solving a problem and replace it with the following:

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

We will also retain the optional COVID-19 question within the Additional Information section.

The new prompt is inspired by scientific research on gratitude and kindness, specifically the benefits of writing about the positive influence of other people in our lives.

This mindset resonates with Common App President & CEO Jenny Rickard. “Particularly at this challenging time, we can help students think about something positive and heartfelt in their lives,” she explains. “And we can do it explicitly.”

“Particularly at this challenging time, we can help students think about something positive and heartfelt in their lives. And we can do it explicitly.”Jenny Rickard, President & CEO, Common App

In crafting the new option, we relied on the expertise of counselors and admission officers on our Outreach and Application Advisory Committees, along with input from psychology and gratitude researchers. Together, these educators understand the ingredients of a successful essay prompt. The final language they helped to shape balances flexibility with direction. They believe the new choice will generate stories that students are inspired to write and that colleges are excited to read.

An essay prompt can’t erase the loss and anxiety of the last 12 months, but it can validate the importance of gratitude and kindness. We hope students see the new prompt for what it is intended to be: an invitation to bring some joy into their application experience.

Below is the full set of essay prompts for 2021-2022.

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
  7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.

“As a member of the Common Application Advisory Committee, I appreciated learning about the careful and deliberative process, involving a variety of counseling and student stakeholders, to recommend these revisions to the essay prompts. During these difficult times, it will be encouraging for students and those reviewing these essay responses to be reminded of the joy and hope that generosity and gratitude can foster.”Sacha Thieme, Assistant Vice Provost & Executive Director of Admissions, Indiana University

College Board to Stop Offering SAT Subject Tests and SAT Optional Essay

https://blog.collegeboard.org/January-2021-sat-subject-test-and-essay-faq

COLLEGE BOARD January 19, 2021

As students and colleges adapt to new realities and changes to the college admissions process, College Board is making sure our programs adapt with them. We’re making some changes to reduce demands on students.

We are no longer offering SAT Subject Tests in the U.S. Because SAT Subject Tests are used internationally for a wider variety of purposes, we’ll provide two more administrations, in May and June of 2021, for international students.  

  • Students currently registered for an upcoming Subject Test in the U.S. will automatically have their registration canceled and fees refunded.
  • Students who are currently registered for, or plan to register for, an upcoming Subject Test outside the U.S. can still test through the June 2021 administration. Students who no longer want to take Subject Tests can contact Customer Service to cancel and receive a refund.

We’ve reached out to our member colleges and they’ll decide whether and how to consider students’ Subject Test scores. Students should check colleges’ websites for the most up-to-date information on their application policies.

We will also discontinue the optional SAT Essay after the June 2021 administration.

  • Students who are currently registered, or plan to register, for an upcoming SAT with Essay will still be able to test through the June 2021 administration. Students who prefer to cancel the optional Essay portion of their SAT can do so in their online account, with no change fees, until the registration deadline.
  • After June 2021, the Essay will only be available in states where it’s required as part of SAT School Day administrations. Students scheduled to take the SAT on a school day should check with their school about whether the Essay will be included.

Writing remains essential to college readiness and the SAT will continue to measure writing and editing skills, but there are other ways for students to demonstrate their mastery of essay writing, and the SAT will continue to measure writing throughout the test. The tasks on the SAT Reading and Writing and Language sections are among the most effective and predictive parts of the SAT.

What is the current 2021 SAT administration schedule?

You can find SAT test dates and deadlines here.

When will registration open for fall 2021 and spring 2022 SAT administrations?

Registration for fall 2021 and spring 2022 will open in June 2021.

Why are you discontinuing SAT Subject Tests?

We’re reducing demands on students. The expanded reach of AP and its widespread availability means the Subject Tests are no longer necessary for students to show what they know.

What should I do if I’m already registered for or was planning to take SAT Subject Tests?

Students in the U.S. who registered for the May and/or June 2021 Subject Tests will automatically have their registrations canceled and fees refunded. No further action is needed. If you were planning to submit Subject Test scores, check directly with the colleges you plan to apply to for alternative ways to strengthen your applications.

Students outside the U.S. can still take SAT Subject Tests in May and/or June 2021. Check with the colleges you plan to apply to for their SAT Subject Test policy so you can decide whether Subject Test scores will be valuable to you. If you no longer want to take Subject Tests, you can contact Customer Service to cancel your registration and get a refund or change your registration to take the SAT. The best way to contact Customer Service is to call +1-212-713-7789 (international). Customer Service hours are 9 a.m.–6 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday. If you can’t call, email customer service at sat@info.collegeboard.org and be sure to include the following information: test month, test year, first name, last name, full address, date of birth, and name of school.

When will registration for international students who want to take Subject Tests in May and June be cut off?

International SAT and SAT Subject Tests Administration dates and deadlines can be found here.

Why do international students still get to take SAT Subject Tests through June, but U.S. students don’t?

Subject Tests are used internationally for a wider variety of purposes, such as advanced standing/placement at universities and local credential equivalences for entering colleges and/or as credentials for international students planning to study in some countries.

I’m in the U.S. Should I travel abroad to take the Subject Tests internationally?

International administrations are for students who live outside the United States.

I’ve already taken SAT Subject Tests. Will colleges still accept those scores?

We’ve reached out to our member colleges, and they’ll decide whether and how to consider students’ Subject Test scores. Students should check colleges’ websites for the most up-to-date information on their application policies.

How long will score sending for SAT Subject Tests be an option?

Students can continue sending their Subject Test scores.

How can I show my skills in specific subject areas without the opportunity to take SAT Subject Tests?

We’ve continued to enrich and expand access to AP courses, which let students showcase their skills through challenging coursework. Many colleges already use AP course participation and exam score as indicators of a student’s ability and interest in a particular subject area. And colleges also have access to information about student performance in key subject areas through their SAT scores, high school transcript, course selection, and other measures. Check directly with the colleges you plan to apply to for alternative ways to strengthen your applications.

Why are you discontinuing the optional SAT Essay?

We’re adapting to respond to the changing needs of students and colleges. This change simply streamlines the process for students who have other, more relevant opportunities to show they can write an essay as part of the work they’re already doing on their path to college.

What should I do if I’m already registered for or was planning to take the optional SAT Essay?

Students can still take the optional SAT with Essay through the June 2021 administration. Check with the colleges you plan to apply to for their SAT Essay policy so you can decide whether taking the optional SAT Essay will be valuable to you. If you no longer want to take the optional Essay portion of your SAT, you can cancel in your online account, with no change fees, until the registration deadline. For information on how to add the Essay to your SAT registration, visit collegereadiness.collegeboard.org/sat/register/policies-requirements/changes.

Will colleges still consider Essay scores if I submit them?

Check with the colleges you’re interested in about their policies. If you take the SAT with Essay, colleges may consider your scores as part of their holistic review process. Students registered for the SAT with Essay can cancel the Essay portion if they choose to.

What Students and Colleges Should Know

More than 250 admissions deans issue statement valuing self-care and family care — and urging students to share the context to understand their situations.

June 30, 2020

The college admissions cycle that is (slowly) finishing for students entering in the fall has been unlike anything admissions officers have seen before. With campuses empty, colleges had to recruit admitted applicants without being able to do anything in person. A further complication was that most students applied before the pandemic but were asked to commit to a college as coronavirus spread. One way or another, the process is coming a close over the summer.

But as unusual as this year has been, admissions officials are gearing up for one that may be more challenging. In the upcoming cycle, some students will still be studying online, some students physically in their high schools and some in a combination of the two. They will be looking at colleges in every state of operation — with some planning for classes in person, some not and some planning for a combination. Students’ families have been suffering as well — from the health impacts of COVID-19 and the economic impact of the pandemic and the recession.

As a result, more than 250 admissions deans (and the number is growing) have come together with the Making Caring Common project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education to issue “Care Counts in Crisis: College Admissions Deans Respond to COVID-19.”

In the document, the admissions officials attempt to reassure students — and themselves — about what’s really important this year.

The first item mentioned in the statement is self-care.

Self-care is of high importance, especially in times of crisis,” the deans write. “We recognize that many students, economically struggling and facing losses and hardships of many kinds, are simply seeking to get by. We also recognize that this time is stressful and demanding for a wide range of students for many different reasons. We encourage all students to be gentle with themselves during this time.”

Next is academic work, but with reference to what students may not be able to do. “We will assess your academic achievements in the context of these obstacles. In addition, we will assess your academic achievements mainly based on your academic performance before and after this pandemic. No student will be disadvantaged because of a change in commitments or a change in plans because of this outbreak, their school’s decisions about transcripts, the absence of AP or IB tests, their lack of access to standardized tests (although many of the colleges represented here don’t require these tests) or their inability to visit campus. We will also view students in the context of the curriculum, academic resources, and supports available to them.”

Then the deans turn to service. They endorse the idea of serving those in need but are realistic about possibilities for students in stress. They conclude by saying, “No student will be disadvantaged during this time who is not in a position to provide these contributions. We will review these students for admissions in terms of other aspects of their applications.”

The deans also care about families. “Many students may be supervising younger siblings, for example, or caring for sick relatives or working to provide family income, and we recognize that these responsibilities may have increased during these times,” they write. “We view substantial family contributions as very important, and we encourage students to report them in their applications. It will only positively impact the review of their application.”

And the deans conclude with extracurricular activities. “No student will be disadvantaged for not engaging in extracurricular activities during this time. We also understand that many plans for summer have been impacted by this pandemic and students will not be disadvantaged for lost possibilities for involvement,” they write. “Potential internship opportunities, summer jobs, camp experiences, classes, and other types of meaningful engagement have been cancelled or altered. We have never had specific expectations for any one type of extracurricular activities or summer experience and realize that each student’s circumstances allow for different opportunities.”

There are signatories from every Ivy League institution, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Chicago; from leading liberal arts colleges such as Bowdoin, Carleton, Colorado, Davidson, Haverford, Swarthmore and Williams Colleges; and from public research universities like the University of Arizona, Colorado at Boulder, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon and Texas at Austin.

E. Whitney Soule, senior vice president and dean of admissions and student aid at Bowdoin, said via email that the statement aims to help students.

“Without COVID-19, there is already plenty of anxiety churning for students preparing to apply to college. There’s the anxiety around which courses and how many, which tests and how many, which activities and should they be broad or deep?” said Soule. “And all of those questions swirl around an anxious exercise of trying to estimate and maximize chances of admission. For many students, the interference of COVID-19 doesn’t interrupt that anxiety circuit, it powers it. The point of this deans’ statement is to explicitly state that we understand, that we already apply context to our review, and that we will apply flexibility to meet that context in application review. I hope that our written statement is reassuring and can reduce anxiety.”

Rachelle Hernandez, senior vice provost for enrollment management and student success at the University of Texas at Austin, said, “We don’t want students worrying that limitations to their activities, or other opportunities due to the pandemic, will negatively impact them or our consideration of their application. We hope the statement is encouraging to high school students and their families, and importantly conveys that we value the many ways that students are continuing to prepare for their futures, despite the challenges of the pandemic, by successfully completing their coursework, taking care of themselves, and helping their families or volunteering in their communities.”

Stuart Schmill, dean of admissions and student financial services at MIT, said, “I signed the deans’ statement because I believe that the most important thing for students to do right now is to take care of themselves and those around them, and not to overworry about how this will all affect their college application. Collaborative statements may have more impact than individual voices.”

Richard Weissbourd, a senior lecturer in education at Harvard University, who helped coordinate the effort, said it was intended “to help students and parents who were unclear about what was expected” and also admissions leaders themselves. “They have statements about self-care in their websites but want to state what it means.”

To Weissbourd, the biggest thematic item out of the statement was about context. “We’re not trying to create a pandemic service Olympics,” he said. “But we want students to talk about themselves,” and that includes things like caring for family members who are sick or lost their jobs. Students have been taught not to reveal such information, he said.

The real question, he said, is whether different students will be admitted than would have been otherwise. “I don’t know,” he said.

IMPACT OF DOJ AGREEMENT ON ED & ADMISSION “POACHING”

excerpts from article by Mark H. Sklarow, CEO, IECA

By now, most independent educational consultants (IECs) who work with college bound students have heard that NACAC has reached an agreement with the Department of Justice that eliminates several provisions of the NACAC SPGP. The DOJ argued that some of these rules—those requiring colleges to restrict recruitment efforts—constituted collusion or restrained trade.

Many IECA members have asked for guidance on what they might expect or “what to tell client families” so they are not blind-sided as the rules that colleges have followed for years become relaxed. I think there are two specific bits of information IECs and families should know:

1. Colleges for years have agreed to a universal response date, the date by which students would commit to a college for the fall. Colleges had agreed to rules that prohibited them from trying to “poach” a student who had made a commitment elsewhere. Meaning, colleges would not pursue a student who committed to attend elsewhere, including a prohibition of incentives to change their mind (like a last-minute bump in financial aid).

This rule will end. So, what will happen? We really don’t know. Most organizations, like the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and IECA believe most colleges will, at least initially, voluntarily keep to this rule. Yet we know that any college that fails to achieve enrollment numbers may feel compelled to recruit past a student’s personal decision or beyond the May 1 deadline. Like the proverbial leak in the dam, what we don’t know is if a few colleges pursuing students will result in an all-out effort to recruit already committed students.

We also don’t know yet if colleges will take actions proactively to protect students that commit. For example, I predict that deposits may well increase from the hundreds to a thousand dollars or more, all to make it less likely that students will casually accept offers late in the year with a new pursuer, post-commitment. Likewise, housing deposits and fees could increase. Thus, while some colleges may pursue students who have committed elsewhere, other colleges may work to make a student think hard before making an expensive decision to change their commitment.

Other questions will be left to IECs to consider. If colleges can seek to recruit students who have already deposited, will our advice that students may not double deposit or admonitions that once you accept you must withdraw applications elsewhere, still be valid? Will this lead to a “second season” of admission where students are free to negotiate for their best deal?

2. The second area that the Justice Department secured a change was in recruitment of students applying under a binding “Early Decision.” The rule had been that colleges could not use special incentives to entice students to apply early—and commit—since this was binding. For example, colleges were precluded from using special Early Decision scholarships, or early decision priority for dorms or classes.

These rules, too, are now gone. Colleges may begin to offer incentives to apply under a binding ED, and there are signs that colleges are exploring this. Again, we hope that such incentives don’t become widespread, but I suspect it will happen. We know that Early Decision is a serious commitment, and as such, a decision should be done upon thoughtful and careful planning with an IEC when there is a clear first choice, not merely because an incentive is put on the table.

Once again, IECs will have to ponder the advice they give to students. Such incentives could become one more variable to consider in the process.

 

US News & World Report publishes great article about choosing a College Consultant

U.S. News & World Report Homepage

What to Look For When Hiring a College Consultant

A consultant should help reduce anxiety for parents and students during the college admissions process.

By Josh Moody, Reporter April 4, 2019, at 11:43 a.m.

OPERATION VARSITY Blues, as the FBI dubbed it, is the college admissions scandal heard around the world.

The alleged bribery scheme to help the children of wealthy parents get into elite institutions ensnared Hollywood actresses, business moguls and college coaches accused of helping rig the system by creating a “side door” into schools, circumventing the normal admissions process. Working with an independent college counselor, parents allegedly tried to gain an edge by having students admitted as athletes – despite not playing sports – and changing their standardized test scores.

Now the scandal has cast college consulting in a negative light, prompting some professionals to call for a recommitment to ethics in the industry.

“This is an unfortunate example of the lengths to which people will go to circumvent and manipulate the college admission process, particularly to gain admission to highly selective colleges,” Stefanie Niles, National Association for College Admission Counseling president and vice president for enrollment and communications at Ohio Wesleyan University, said in a news release.

The scandal prompted similar criticism from others in the space. American Association of College Registrars and Admissions Officers Executive Director Michael Reilly said in a statement, “This behavior compromises the integrity of college admissions and reinforces stereotypes that people of privilege can circumvent the rules. It undermines public confidence in our institutions.”

As its moment in the spotlight arrives, the college consulting industry is booming both domestically and internationally.

Data from the Independent Educational Consultant Association, a nonprofit professional organization, show a 400 percent increase in domestic independent educational consultants since 2005. In that same time, the number of international consultants grew by 1,000 percent.

To Mark Sklarow, IECA chief executive officer, this is the most explosive scandal he’s seen in the admissions world since he began working with the nonprofit 25 years ago. The actions taken by the educational consultant at the center of the Varsity Blues case are in direct contrast to IECA ethics, which specifically bar admission guarantees and emphasize truthful, accurate application materials.

“We want to make sure that if a family hires a member of our association, that they’re really knowledgeable, well trained, ethical, competent, all the things that you would expect,” Sklarow says. He adds that in the absence of state licensure for independent educational consultants, IECA has adopted that role of arbiter, setting standards and practices.

For parents planning to hire an independent educational consultant, Sklarow has advice on what to look for…  link to the article  https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2019-04-04/what-to-look-for-when-hiring-a-college-consultant

College Visits

With private school tuition’s continually on the rise, more and more families are exploring public-school options.  As we visit these schools, I will share my thoughts.

Visit to Rutgers Main Campus  – New Brunswick, NJ
April 2018

Size: approx. 32K undergrad
Tuition: Mid $20K in-state – low $40K out-of-state
Selectivity:  SAT Range M 600-720 R/W 590-680

First Impressions. We were greeted by a friendly group of students, admissions staff, professors and homemade sugar cookies shaped like R’s in the visit center upon arrival. We listened to a short overview of the university and then heard from a panel of students and professors. We were then brought around to the five sub campus locations that make up the main campus on a bus lead by a student ambassador. Here are the highlights and my impressions.

Five campuses all in one. Rutgers New Brunswick is made up of five distinct campuses. There is a busing system that runs regularly throughout all of the campuses. It is an easy walk on walk off system that students seem to quickly acclimate to. Each campus has its own dorms, dining hall, students center, and library.  Incoming students can choose which campus they wish to reside on and usually get one of their top two choices. While they are separate and have their unique identities, all students have access to all five campuses during their time at Rutgers. Here is a brief description of the five campuses copied from Rutgers Literature and Rutgers website.

Busch: The campus is home to the High Point Solutions Stadium and provides a high-tech and suburban atmosphere focusing on academic areas primarily related to the natural sciences; Physics, Engineering, Mathematics & Statistics, Pharmacy, Chemistry, Geology, Biology and Psychology.

College Avenue: This campus includes the historic block known as Old Queens campus. It is within walking distance of shops, restaurants, and theaters in downtown New Brunswick, as well as the NJ Transit train station which provides easy access to New York and Philadelphia.

Cook: Farms, gardens, and research centers are found on the George H. Cook Campus, including the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (formerly Cook College), the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences, Rutgers Gardens, and the Center for Advanced Food Technology.

Douglass: This campus shares its campus with Cook. The campus has many stately buildings with traditional architecture. Douglass Campus is home to the Douglass Residential College for women and has four women’s-only housing options.

Livingston: Livingston Campus is home to many of the social science departments and the Rutgers Business School. The Louis Brown Athletic Center (commonly known as “the RAC”), the student-founded Livingston Theater, and the Rutgers Ecological Preserve are also found here.

Well spoken and focused student panel and ambassadors. The students who we met during our visit were impressive in their articulate communication of their ideas, their participation in many programs/clubs/internships and their overall demeanor and school spirit.

Committed and compassionate faculty panel. The faculty were very informative and down to earth. They all seemed to get the large size of the student body and the large campus and spoke of several resources for incoming freshman and beyond to help students to integrate with the community at Rutgers and thrive academically.

Internships. Rutgers has a wide range of academic programs and with its proximity to NYC by train on campus it offers students some great internship possibilities. Additionally, Johnson & Johnson, which is located right next to campus provides a variety of internship opportunities.

Tradition. With its roots linking back to 1766, Rutgers is deep in history and tradition. It has many traditions like Rutgers Day, Midnight Breakfast hosted by professors, and Division 1 sports that give the big school a sense of community. Certainly, worth a visit!