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Changes to Common App Roll Out Aug. 1

Eager high school students who sign on to the latest version of The Common Application when it goes live on Saturday, Aug. 1, will notice a few changes.

The online college application system will list 69 new colleges in 2015-2016, bringing the total number of schools to over 600, according to officials from the nonprofit memberships association. 

And this year not all colleges will require students to submit an essay and counselor recommendation options have been expanded. The Common App last fall changed its membership criteria, allowing institutions to join even if they do not use a "holistic selection process" and include a writing sample. 

Still, the vast majority of schools will require an essay. This year, the Common App added a new prompt that asks students to describe a problem they've solved. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything of personal importance. The other four essay topics (lessons from failure, transitioning to adulthood, reaction to having a belief challenged, and a meaningful interest or talent) remain.

This year's application has a "print preview" feature that will allow students to see their work in progress on a particular section before the submission process so they can share it with their counselor or review the information.

In 2013, students encountered technical difficulties uploading their files on The Common App, prompting officials to offer an apology to its users. 

Last year, 864,276 individual students submitted at least one application through The Common Application, a 5.7 percent increase over 2013-2014, officials report. A total of 3.7 million applications were submitted, a 7.6 increase in volume over the previous year.

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