The reveal of the essay prompts for the 2013-14 Common Application have been released, and although next season's version of the revamped application -- dubbed Common App 4.0 -- will not go live until August 1, today's high school Juniors can get an early start in formulating ideas for their personal statements, the topics of Common App's choice now firmly in hand.

Yes, gone is the essay topic of your choice (shame), and there is now a minimum (250) and maximum (650) word count, to be strictly adhered to. And yet, the proferred topics are broad enogh to give students wide latitude in framing a personal statement that weaves a story of who they are and what they would bring to campus, and 650 words (up from the 500 first run up the proverbial flagpole by Common App), should certainly suffice.

So, without further ado, here are the instructions for the 2013-14 Common App essays, together with the prompts, as they shall appear on this fall's application.

Instructions. The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice.  What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores?  Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response.  Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal.  Use the full range if you need it, but don't feel obligated to do so.  (The application won't accept a response shorter than 250 words.)

• Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

• Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?

• Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea.  What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

• Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?

• Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

There you have it, folks. The dye has been cast at Common App. History is prologue. The rest, as they say, is in your hands!

Plan. Prepare. Prevail!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of The College Whisperer.

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