One of the more popular debates in the world of academia of late has been the withdrawal of the "topic of your choice' on the Common Application. For those of you who aren't aware, the Common Application is exactly what its name implies- a common application that students can fill out and submit to multiple participating colleges, which now includes over 488 members (colleges & universities), at the same time with one application.
In the past few months there has been quite a lot of buzz going around about the 'new and improved' Common Application which will be making its debut this coming summer 2013 and will reflect major changes to the original. One of these changes will be the absence of the 'topic of your choice' for the essay writing section- this alone has been the root of a lively debate in the past few months amongst students, professors, parents, and counselors...just to name a few.
In years past it has included an essay component in the application-which offered students the ability to choose one essay topic 'prompt' from a list they could write about The new version, however will now offer students the option of choosing one of the four or five essay topics now provided, with the topics likely to change from year to year. Some have debated that taking away this prompt will diminish the students creativity while writing the essay or make the essay process more stressful for those student who aren't the best writers and need a prompt. Others have applauded the change exclaiming by taking away the choices it will now 'level the playing field' amongst the applicant; and many believe, it will now benefit those students who don't particularly 'fit into any mold' or those students who aren't comfortable 'singing their own praises.'
While both sides of the argument do have their merits only time will tell how this new change will affect students in writing their essay for the Common Application. It does seem by taking away the "topic of your choice' option they are not only limiting students on what they can write about, they will also be stifling a student's creativity; but then again, having more of a 'level playing field' certainly makes the essay writing process a bit more equal for all the applicants. Perhaps... rather than focusing the argument on the essay topics in the Common Application, the opponents and supporters should now concentrate on encouraging the 'powers that be' to consider changing the word limit as well...because how many colleges can get a true understanding of a student's breadth when they are required to write within the 250-500 word limit?