chris helvajianBy Chris Helvajian ’09, MBA ’10, Admission Counselor

I wanted to take a bit of time to talk about changes to the Common App essay prompts and our own Chapman Supplement essays, because there are some big changes coming to the Common App this year and our incoming freshman class for the Fall of 2014 will get to navigate through those uncharted waters.

Common Application logoIf you’re thinking of getting a head start on your Common App essay, or are simply curious, take a look at the new prompts below:

1.  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.
2.  Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
3.  Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
4.  Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
5.  Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.


New Common App website

Our counselors are very excited to see how our students will address these prompts! There’s a lot of room to explore and build great narratives while also getting to the heart of what’s important- who you are as a person.

As part of our Chapman Supplement, we also have a few other short-answer essays that you’ll get to answer. We put a lot of importance on these questions because they’re Chapman-specific and help us find out more about you. Let’s talk about one of them here. The question is…

“There are thousands of universities and colleges. Please share with us why you are choosing to apply to Chapman. (200 words or fewer)”

Here are some things to consider when you’re writing your response to the question…

DO be specific about Chapman in particular. Sometimes students start with great reasons and stay on the surface. We’re a medium-sized university in southern California and we have a beautiful campus. But, there are a number of medium-sized campuses that are in southern California that are beautiful. Maybe go a bit deeper. Something like “I was doing research and saw that Chapman has a holocaust memorial center and a holocaust studies minor. I thought that was interesting.” Or, “My friend goes to Chapman and they were telling me all about the inclusive Greek system and how much of it is tied to philanthropic efforts.” See the difference? If you can be specific, it shows you’ve done your homework and you’ll likely find aspects of campus to which you truly connect!

DO proofread your answer (and your whole application for that matter). We read every word you write and see every piece of documentation you send in. It’s our job to read, analyze and make an informed admission decision. When we see small flubs, it shows that you may not be spending enough time on your application or really thinking critically about your answers.

DON’T re-use your answers throughout the application. We ask different questions to get to know different aspects of your personality, interests and goals. We expect to see answers that are original, genuine and aren’t repetitive.

DON’T spend your time teaching us about the University. It’s part of our responsibility to promote the university, and many of our counselors are former students. We know Chapman really well! We don’t need a refresher course on Chapman’s history and it’s safe to assume we’ll know what you’re referencing when you’re talking about specific programs or initiatives. Use your time talking about yourself, that’s what we really care about!

Again, we’re excited about this upcoming year and being able to read your insightful and thoughtful responses to the Common app and to our supplement. Remember to reach out to our office if you have questions along the way and keep checking our blog for more helpful advice!

Finally, remember that you can start applying online using the new Common App when it goes live August 1.

  • Courtney Ng

    This is so helpful! Thank you!
    Is there only one supplement question?

    • Matt Miller

      The writing supplement is actually a series of questions.

    • Matt M.

      No, the writing supplement is a series of questions that differs by college. Our Writing Supplement section of the Common App should be available to you by early next week.

  • Natalia

    Thank you! Where can we find the rest of the supplement questions?

    • Matt Miller

      We haven’t published our Chapman supplement questions yet. They should be online by next week.

    • Matt M.

      Our writing supplement isn’t yet live on the Common Application. We should have our questions up by early next week.

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:

Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.