College Applications and Essays---Tons of Wasted Time

<p>I was impressed by how the University of California system handles applications.</p>

<p>You submit one application, and you check off the box with respect to which of the schools you are applying to, and you submit a personal statement.</p>

<p>I don't see why, for example, the University of Florida system, or any other system, can't do the same thing.</p>

<p>It is my view that more colleges should be doing this. For example, instead of Harvard requiring two essays on such and such topics, and Yale requiring two essays on two different topics, and then Princeton requiring another two essays, and so on and so on, why can't the schools come up with some sort of policy where you write three or four essays on a uniformly agreed set of topics, and submit those four essays to all the schools you apply to. Wouldn't that be sufficient?</p>

<p>To have literally hundreds of thousands of kids writing essay after essay seems to me to be a big waste of time. Does Harvard REALLY need a different set of essays than Yale?
Would not simply using the Yale essays be satisfactory?</p>

<p>Also, it might be pointed out that when it comes to essays, there is absolutely no protection against cheating. How does the college know that you actually wrote the essay. Maybe your friend wrote it, or your brother, or your mother.</p>

<p>Let's really make the common application a true common application, by using a uniform set of essays, and stop this silliness.</p>

<p>Under my proposal, the only essay that would be different for each college might be one where you write why you want to apply to that particular school.</p>

<p>It seems to me that the current system needs a little reforming/streamlining.</p>

<p>That was the general point of the common app personal statement. But then every college added super long supplements, so the common essay was pointless.</p>

<p>I second this.</p>

<p>For public colleges, I completely agree. In our state, not only do you need to submit separate apps to each, but also application fees and test scores ($$$!).</p>

<p>As for highly-selective private schools, the school-specific essays are a way that the college ensures the applicant is somewhat interested in attending. At least they are able to weed out some of those students who may just want to see if they could possibly get in.</p>

<p>Family of Three makes a great point. If you are applying to schools in the University of Florida system, for example, why can't you submit your test scores just one time, instead of sending them separately to each school.</p>

<p>This reminds me of when my wife was applying to be a substitute teacher. We live in an area that borders three different counties. She had to submit her fingerprints three times, one to each county, each time at a signicant cost.</p>

<p>I'm guessing because all these schools think they are prestigious in their own right, and believe that students should want to go to their school enough to write separate essays for every school they apply, which is ridiculous. Many kids want to apply to many schools, as they should. Colleges should respect that and allow uniformed essays and supplements. I'm writing supplemental essays for ten or more schools right now, and I COMPLETELY agree with you. </p>

<p>I hate how all colleges believe they are so special, especially the highly selective ones like the IVYs. It's about time that they realize that most that apply and attend their schools go in there for the name and prestige. Because no matter what anyone says, the name DOES matter. Or go ahead and tell your boss in the future that you graduated from ITT Tech, and see if you get the job. </p>

<p>Sorry for the rant. I just had to.</p>

<p>This is like asking a job seeker to do one interview to apply to 15 different jobs. </p>

<p>Be happy any common applications exist. Picking a college is an extremely important decision; making it a process of simply checking boxes only helps to reinforce this attitude that students should apply to a ton of schools and just see where they can get in, whether or not the interest is really there. Applying to schools with a lack of interest can be damaging to both the school and to the applicant pool.</p>

<p>I suppose you would favor one universal employment application too?</p>

<p>It's a free market- each institution is well within its rights to go to whatever means it feels necessary to select students.
They are distinct institutions why wouldn't they have distinct questions?</p>

<p>I completed applications for 14 privates, 1 CSU, and 8 UCs this year.
It took a lot of time, and each college - especially the ivies - asked different questions.
It was tedious, but I think it is important. Also, there were some similarities to the prompts: "Why do you want to study at X University?" "Why did you choose engineering as your major" so on and so forth.
I ended up withdrawing all of them, but the process also helped me determine how much I really wanted to go to each college. For the ones I loved, I wouldn't run out of steam; for the ones I felt "eh", I had a hard time coughing out those 500 word essays.
Common application provides one common essay, which is enough. The colleges have a right to ask specialized, individual questions.</p>

<p>Totally disagree with the OP. </p>

<p>First off, your example with HYP is a moot point, because it is possible to submit literally the same essay, word for word, to all three schools, even though their prompts slightly differ from one another. I submitted the same essay to all three schools. (Y and H ask basically the same thing, while P gives the option to write an essay using one's favorite quote from an essay or book; I simply picked a quote that allowed me to use my already finished essay. I've since withdrawn my H and P applications, because Yale was my first choice.)</p>

<p>Anyway, a number of posters in this thread complain that the distinct essay prompts make in more difficult for them to apply to 20 schools. Guess what. That's why colleges individualize their essay prompts - because there is absolutely no reason anyone should apply to 20 schools. Colleges don't want people to apply just for the hell of it, and anyone who applies to that many schools clearly doesn't know enough about the schools to which they are applying to be discriminant as they should be. </p>

<p>It really amused me when I find threads like this</a> one and this</a> one and [url=<a href=""&gt;]this&lt;/a> one[/ur], in which people look for colleges without supplemental essays. Prospective applicants want the application process to be as quick and painless as possible, and if since they decide whether or not to apply to a college based on whether or not that college requires them to write an additional essay (they clearly know nothing else about the colleges in questions, else they would be familiar with that colleges supplements), they clearly don't give a damn about the college itself and are applying just for the hell of it. I hate to be rude, but if you're so lackadaisical that you would apply to a college just because it doesn't require you to write an additional essay, then you clearly don't belong in one of the nation's top schools. Believe it or not, you're going to have to write essays in college from time to time. </p>

<p>I think applicants should be required to write far more specific, in-depth essays than they currently are. This would force people to consider the merits of individual colleges and apply discriminately rather than mindlessly throwing common-apps at colleges. Such a policy would curb the rampant drop of admission rates that defines the application process. Admissions are far more competitive today than they were thirty years ago, not because applicants are getting smarter, or even because more people are applying to top colleges, but because people are applying to far more colleges than they were thirty years ago. HYPSM admits roughly the same amount of students each year, but it receives far more applications than it used to because they same 20,000 students apply to the same top-20 colleges. Thus, if people were to apply more discriminately (and they would, if they had to research and fill out comprehensive applications for all the schools they applied to), admit rates would stop their never-ending plummet, applicants would end up applying to and attending colleges that they were actually "fits" for, and parents would save the two-thousand or so dollars that many spend on applications each year.</p>

<p>Applicants seem to believe that they are more likely to be accepted to a top college if they apply to as many schools as possible. For the most part, this belief is fundamentally flawed, since most top colleges use the same criteria for determining whom to admit, and most applicants that get into H also have good chances of getting into YPSM, while an applicant who doesn’t get into HYPSM is unlikely to get into get into Columbia, for example. Applying to more than 7-8 schools is a waste of time and money that benefits no one. I’d be willing to do whatever is necessary to stop overly-zealous high-school seniors from indiscriminately applying to top schools that they know nothing about. About half the Ivy chance threads on CC include people who are applying to both Brown and Columbia, to both Caltech and Yale. Such applicants clearly have not done enough research to apply at all, and additional essays seem to be an excellent method of stopping people from applying to even more schools than they already are. </p>

<p>I’d bet that if a truly universal application were to become available to all top schools, most applicants would apply to 45 of the top fifty schools. This is not something any prospective applicant should hope for.</p>