When senior year finally rolls around, we are bound together by that unavoidable and persistent foe: the Common Application, which is required by most colleges and universities and includes a long personal statement, a short essay and a lot of tedious forms. However, nearly every school that subscribes to the Common App has its own supplement as well—a separate application, specific to a given school, complete with 500-word essays, short-answer questions and even more tedious forms. I think that if each school relied solely on the information provided on the Common App, the stress and hassle of senior year would decrease exponentially, and everyone would be just a little farther away from the edge of a nervous breakdown.
Students should be able to write a single, fantastic essay and should not have to eliminate schools from their lists simply because applying and doing more supplements would be too much extra work. One of the most important aspects of the Common App is the personal statement—a 500-word essay in which students express their voices and provide insight about themselves that cannot be gleaned from SAT scores and GPAs. If this essay were the only one required of applicants, students would be more inclined to truly perfect it and work to make it the best it could possibly be.
However, an applicant may have to write up to 10 or 12 additional essays, as dictated by the supplements required by the schools they are applying to. Supplement questions can range from a traditional “Why this school?” to a more creative approach. For example, the University of Chicago once offered “Where’s Waldo?” as one of its supplemental essay questions. While supplements can be interesting, they detract from the amount of time a senior puts into her personal statement and prevent her from focusing solely on this essay. Coming up with an answer that is both informative and unique can cause ulcer-inducing stress levels in seniors, as they juggle the various forms and essays they must complete.
With a more streamlined, less time-consuming application process, students would be able to focus on other facets of senior year, such as academic classes, extracurricular activities and actually having fun every now and then. Applying to college is essentially the same amount of work as taking one or even two additional academic courses. At Marlborough, the going rate for time per week spent on applications is often as high as eight or ten hours, which makes it incredibly difficult to stay on top of other schoolwork and extracurricular activities.
Every Marlborough girl wants to go to college, and everyone will do whatever she has to in order to get in, but eliminating supplements and binding all colleges to the Common App would allow seniors a little more sanity and a lot less stress.