Write good common application essay

Nearly all selective colleges and universities as well as many that aren't overly selective have holistic admissions, and they consider many factors in addition to numerical measures such as grades and standardized test scores. Your essay is an important tool for presenting something you find important that may not come across elsewhere in your application. Make sure your essay presents you as the type of person a college will want to invite to join their community.

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. What is it that makes you you? The prompt gives you a lot of latitude for answering the question since you can write a story about your "background, identity, interest, or talent. You could write about an event or series of events that had a profound impact on your identity. Your "interest" or "talent" could be a passion that has driven you to become the person you are today.

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? This prompt may seem to go against everything that you've learned on your path to college.

19 Common Application Essay Mistakes and How to Avoid Them - In Like Me

It's far more comfortable in an application to celebrate successes and accomplishments than it is to discuss setbacks and failure. At the same time, you'll impress the college admissions folks greatly if you can show your ability to learn from your failures and mistakes.

Be sure to devote significant space to the second half of the question—how did you learn and grow from the experience? Introspection and honesty are key with this prompt. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Keep in mind how open-ended this prompt truly is. The "belief or idea" you explore could be your own, someone else's, or that of a group. The best essays will be honest as they explore the difficulty of working against the status quo or a firmly held belief. The answer to the final question about the "outcome" of your challenge need not be a success story. Sometimes in retrospection, we discover that the cost of an action was perhaps too great. However you approach this prompt, your essay needs to reveal one of your core personal values.

What is the Common App, and More Importantly, What is the Common App Essay?

If the belief you challenged doesn't give the admissions folks a window into your personality, then you haven't succeeded with this prompt. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma--anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale.

Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.


  1. 2. Brainstorm.
  2. Common Application Personal Statement!
  3. How to Write a Great College Application Essay.

With the ability to write about an "intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma," you can essentially write about any issue that you find important. Note that you do not have to have solved the problem, and some of the best essays will explore problems that need to be solved in the future. Be careful with that opening word "describe"—you'll want to spend much more time analyzing the problem than describing it. This essay prompt, like all of the options, is asking you to be introspective and share with the admissions folks what it is that you value.

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

12222–20 Common App Essays

This question was reworded in admissions cycle, and the current language is a huge improvement. The prompt use to talk about transitioning from childhood to adulthood, but the new language about a "period of personal growth" is a much better articulation of how we actually learn and mature no single event makes us adults. Maturity comes as the result of a long train of events and accomplishments and failures.

This prompt is an excellent choice if you want to explore a single event or achievement that marked a clear milestone in your personal development. Be careful to avoid the "hero" essay—admissions offices are often overrun with essays about the season-winning touchdown or brilliant performance in the school play see the list of bad essay topics for more about this issue.


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  • These can certainly be fine topics for an essay, but make sure your essay is analyzing your personal growth process, not bragging about an accomplishment. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. How did our hero overcome the conflict and what lessons did he or she learn? The story is the meat-and-potatoes of the admissions essay, and the reason for this is that a story containing all of these elements will not only leave a lasting impression in the minds of the admissions officers, it will tell them what they need to know about how you deal with adverse situations and how you are able to glean important lessons from them.

    A protagonist who fights against all odds and becomes better and wiser for the struggle is probably someone who will perform excellently in a tough program at a top-tier college. Then go back to the beginning and provide the background details before moving back to the conflict and showing the reader how you handled the situation.

    Writing Your Common Application Essay: How to Answer Prompt #2

    Readers can be deeply affected by the inner thoughts and unusual or impressive actions of the protagonist or of other interesting characters. In a personal essay, you must show your character mostly from a first-person perspective, and this means that every action or perspective should be filtered through you. What are your fascinating flaws? Maybe your social anxiety disorder has made your extracurricular achievements that much more impressive.

    In the essay, your geeky photo collection of late Etruscan pottery will make you MORE popular, not less no offense to the Etruscans. Most importantly, write about WHY do you do what you do and think what you think. Explain your thought process—let the reader into your mind to see how you tick. Imagine yourself as a character and really flesh yourself out to make the admissions officers remember you. Acknowledging your flaws or weak points demonstrates maturity and self-understanding—important qualities for a college student.

    But this rule is much easier to understand than to follow, and a whole lot of beginning writers and even many professional writers mistake telling about what one did or how one felt with showing it. When summarizing, one often gives an overview of the situation, using more general abstract nouns and adjectives to describe events, objects, or feelings. For example, if I enjoyed and succeeded in an AP Chemistry class, here are two ways I could write about it. Try and spot the differences:. The teacher was excellent and I received superlative grades on tests and assignments. I even made a fantastic project that impressed all of my classmates.

    I consider this the apex of my academic success in a single class. She also connects this experience to her present way of approaching challenges and therefore shows its significance to her story.


    • Tips For Writing A Great Common App Essay | Road2College.
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    • However, I owe much of this success to my remarkable teacher, Ms. Jensen, whose knowledge of all things biological and whose tenacity in expressing this knowledge encouraged me to spend the majority of my afternoons researching and building my exhibit. As you can see, details really are the crux of a good story, and drawing a picture with them will make your readers see you as a full person rather than just another list of achievements on paper. Pro-tip : Improve your ability at showing instead of telling by reading some good poetry. But while accuracy, lack of errors, and compelling writing are necessary qualities of a final draft, striving for perfection in the first draft is a near impossibility and will likely slow down the stream of brilliant ideas that you have stored up in your brain.

      Here are a few techniques you can use to free yourself from that blockage while you are immersed in the creative process:. Since writing and editing require different kinds of focus, you should switch between writing and editing mode only after you have finished one section or draft of writing.

      The Common App Essay: How to Get into College With Less than 800 Words

      And once you have completed your final draft, make sure to have your work proofread by someone you trust to ensure there are no errors in grammar, spelling, or internal logic. A trusted friend or teacher can be an excellent resource for receiving constructive criticism and improving the strength of your essay. In addition, consider sending your completed Common App essay to an editing professional who can not only proofread your work but only provide comments on how to improve arguments and communicate your story more effectively and naturally.

      The qualified admissions experts at Wordvice Editing Services have helped thousands of writers pen essays to get into their dream colleges and universities. Check out the various admissions services they offer at some of the lowest prices in the industry.