Rising high school seniors who want to get a jump on their college applications should know that the Common Application used by more than 450 colleges and universities has just gone live for the 2012-13 admissions season.

That means students can start to officially fill out their applications, getting the tedious work of filling out names and dates and other details done so they can work on their essays.

For the record, the Common App was launched on Tuesday night, four hours ahead of schedule, and within 30 minutes, 300 individuals had registered an account, the Web site reported. “The first registration came from Plano, TX, less than one minute after the site went live,” it said.

The Common Application is a not-for-profit organization that provides an admission application — online and in print — that students may submit to any of the member schools that accept it.

The Common Application was developed in 1975 as a way to cut down on the number of separate applications and essays a student applying to numerous colleges and universities would have to complete. As it turns out, even with the Common App, many schools ask for additional information, including extra essays.

These are the Common App essay instructions and prompts for freshman applicants:

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. Please indicate your topic by checking the appropriate box. This personal essay helps us become acquainted with you as a person and student, apart from courses, grades, test scores, and other objective data. It will also demonstrate your ability to organize your thoughts and express yourself. NOTE: Your Common Application essay should be the same for all colleges. Do not customize it in any way for individual colleges. Colleges that want customized essay responses will ask for them on a supplement form.

* Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.

* Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.

* Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.

* Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work (as in art, music or science, etc.) that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.

* 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.

* Topic of your choice.

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