Common Application COVID-19 Essay Prompt

We learned to disinfect our groceries....

As I predicted in mid-May, there will be an optional opportunity on the Common Application for students to write about their experience during the pandemic, as the Common Application recently announced. If you wish to use it, you’ll have 250 words in which to explain anything you feel is important to your application in this space.

This is the notice from the Common Application Organization:

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives and postsecondary plans for many students. We want to reduce anxiety for applicants affected by these events and provide them with a way to share their experience with colleges and universities.

Next year, on the 2020-2021 application, Common App will provide students who need it with a dedicated space to elaborate on the impact of the pandemic, both personally and academically. We want to provide colleges with the information they need, with the goal of having students answer COVID-19 questions only once while using the rest of the application as they would have before to share their interests and perspectives beyond COVID-19.

Below is the question applicants will see:

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. 

  • Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N
  • Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.

The question will be optional and will appear in the Additional Information section of the application.The response length will be limited to 250 words.

The question will be accompanied by a more detailed FAQ to help students consider the kinds of impacts they may wish to report, including illness and loss, housing and employment disruptions, and shifting family obligations.

The new language will not replace the current Additional Information question inviting students to discuss circumstances and qualifications not reflected elsewhere in the application. That question, along with its 650 word limit, will remain.

“We are grateful for the feedback we received from our college and university members and the counseling community about how to help students share how the current health crisis has impacted them personally and educationally. The goal is to have a central place for students and counselors to describe their experiences due to COVID-19 only once while providing colleges and universities the information they need to understand each student’s unique context.” ~~ Jenny Rickard, President & CEO, Common App


If you’re looking for any kind of guidance on your essays or any aspect of your application to college this summer and fall, please contact me: Or phone: East Coast Time Zone: 855-99-ESSAY

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