In our continuing series on the new changes to the Common Application, Douglas L. Christiansen, Vanderbilt University's vice provost for enrollment and dean of admissions, joins us today to share his thoughts about the role of the essay in the admission decision as well as the impact of the new essay prompts and length limits.
What are your thoughts about the new Common Application prompts?
The Common Application’s new prompts were devised after months (indeed, years) of input from member institutions. To that end, I am confident that the prompts contain wisdom from colleagues who collectively have read hundreds of thousands of college essays. The array of topics is deliberately broad, in order to appeal to as wide a range of college-going seniors as possible. Each topic asks the student to hone in on one area of their experience and let the admissions officer get to know them through this particular experience. The new prompts are meant to elicit stories full of interesting details and experiences and I am looking forward to reading these essays. I believe the prompts will help applicants write more personal stories, allowing my colleagues to get to know many applicants a little bit better than they might have been able to in the past.