New COVID Related Questions on The Common App

In order for students to provide a complete and thorough summary of their achievements and qualifications for admissions, The Common Application added two new questions to the form. The Common Application is an online application utilized by almost 900 public and private universities across the US and internationally, which make applying to college more efficient for first year and transfer students. 

In one of the new questions, students can explain their experiences this spring living through a pandemic, if needed. Counselors can answer the second new question in the Secondary School Report, describing how the high school experience changed given the pandemic.

As announced: 

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.

The Common Application, May 12, 2020

For those of you eager to start the college application process, here is the question to start brainstorming a response: 

Community disruptions such as 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 Common Application, May 12, 2020

Furthermore for students: 

The question will be accompanied by a more detailed FAQ to help students consider the kinds of impacts they may wish to report, including illness and loss, housing and employment disruptions, and shifting family obligations.

The Common Application, May 12, 2020

The COVID-19 related student question will be added to the already-existing “Additional Information” section at the end of The Common Application. Students will still have the option to include other information about their high school experiences to contextualize their application, if needed. 

Applicants should review all the information being presented in their Common Application, then ask themselves if their experiences this Spring are necessary to offer a complete view of their merits for admissions. 

Jill Yoshikawa, Creative Marbles Consultancy

Augmenting the students’ responses, counselors can provide context for the student’s Spring 2020 academic achievements given the structure of the high school after campuses closed. 

Your school may have made adjustments due to community disruptions such as COVID–19 or natural disasters. If you have not already addressed those changes in your uploaded school profile or elsewhere, you can elaborate here. Colleges are especially interested in understanding changes to:

– Grading scales and policies

– Graduation requirements

– Instructional methods

– Schedules and course offerings

– Testing requirements

– Your academic calendar

– Other extenuating circumstances

Your students will have a similar space in their application to share how these events have affected them personally.

The Common Application, May 12, 2020

While the question is optional, students should encourage their counselors to describe their high school’s academic experiences in Spring 2020. Then, admissions officers will have a greater context to understand the Spring 2020 transcripts. 

Students will want to be discriminating if they answer the optional COVID-19 related question in their part of the Common Application or not. Applicants should review all the information being presented in their Common Application, then ask themselves if their experiences this Spring are necessary to offer a complete view of their merits for admissions

About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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