This year the Common Application is providing students with a dedicated space to discuss their experience and time spent throughout the COVID-19 lockdown. The prompt reads:
Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.
This section of the application will provide students with an opportunity to share their unique experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic with colleges and universities. The hope in offering this outlet is that it will enable students to add context related to their application. Students should feel free to write about how COVID-19 and the lockdown has impacted their academic, social and/or personal lives. If you had plans that were shifted, or your family was impacted by the virus, this is a great opportunity to communicate those issues with college admission officers. You should also think about how you utilized your time productively. You can discuss what you did to expand on your experiences and build your profile in a virtual environment.
The new section of the application is helpful because it enables students to write their main college essay about something other than their COVID-19 experience. Without the prompt, many students would have felt forced to detail their experiences during COVID-19, due to its impact on their plans and experiences. While we have all been impacted by COVID-19 to some extent, the virus is not the defining component of your high school experience. The prompt allows students to provide context to their application while still giving the admission office a complete narrative of their high school experience.
As always, use this section to be open, honest and vulnerable in order to give the admission office a clear understanding of your experience and how COVID-19 impacted you personally.
Jamie received a BA from University of Mary Washington and an MA in higher education administration from George Mason University. Jamie has a decade of admissions experience at several institutions, including University of California – Berkeley and Loyola University Maryland. He also served as associate director of college counseling at a private high school in Washington, DC. Jamie provides oversight for all undergraduate counseling at AcceptU. He is an IECA Professional Member.