A preview version of the 2012-2013 Common Application
has been posted online, giving you a look at exactly what you will face if you plan to use the Common App next year, and a good sample of what your application could look like no matter where you're applying. You can check out a PDF of the preview application on their website
I'm sure you're most curious to hear about the essays you'll have to write. Well, here's the guidance:
Please write an essay of 250 – 500 words on a topic of your choice or on one of the options listed below, and attach it to your application before submission.
1) Evaluate a signiﬁcant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have
2) Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to
3) Indicate a person who has had a signiﬁcant inﬂuence on you, and describe that inﬂuence
4) Describe a character in ﬁction, a historical ﬁgure, or a creative work (as in art, music, science, etc.) that has had an inﬂuence on you, and explain that inﬂuence.
5) A range of academic interests, personal perspectives, and life experiences adds much to the educational mix. Given your personal background, describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
6) Topic of your choice
These topics, by the way, have stayed more or less the same for the past few years. The Common App also has an International Supplement, which you can see on their website
The Common Application is an undergraduate application form accepted by over 450 schools (including a few outside the U.S.). Some of those schools will still require a supplement with your application, so be sure you know each school's requirements.