When you simply start thinking of applying to college, you become weak in your knees. Yeah, we know that feeling. We know all those questions that may arise in your head. “What if I fail?” you are asking yourself all the time. And there are some good reasons for that while the application process is not getting easier every year. Vice versa, it is changing and becoming even more complex.
And an application essay is an essential part of the process. Your whole college story starts with it. And when written properly, it will help the commission to see you as a person and get excited. The aim of the app essay is to let them know why you are a perfect candidate, so imagine how well it should be written. But don’t worry, our top tips will help you create one of the best application essays ever!
What is the Common Application Essay
The Common application renders some information about you, such as your name, location, date of birth, extracurricular activities, etc. Here you will encounter your common app essay as well. The common application essay is your personal statement. Some schools require only common app from you, others – common app essays. But there are some colleges and universities that will ask you to provide both.
The Common App essay aims to let the admission committee to know you. It can’t give a picture of you as a student, while they understand what kind of student you are through your SAT scores and grades. The reason for writing the Common App is to create an image of your personality and identity. So you shouldn’t miss that chance and depict yourself in the best way. If your grades are not the best, the Common App essay may be your only chance to improve the situation and convince the college you are a worthy student.
When writing, you should depict something you love – politics, sports, music, your talents, etc. Remember it is not a job interview but a conversation!
How to Write the Common App Essay
First of all, remember that your common app essay can’t be longer than 650 words and your responses should be strong and responsive. If you want your essay to be of the highest level, you should brainstorm. Your common app essay should be interesting and catch the attention of your target reader from the very first letter. It is not interesting to read just a boring biography, so think of writing something outstanding.
Don’t start your essay from “My name is…”, “I was born in…”, hundreds of other common app essays start the same way. Keep in mind that a good question should answer such questions, who you are, why you are here, what is unique about you, and what matters to you.
First of all, you should focus on your personality traits and who you are. After that, tell about your progression in high school. Then think well how to prove and show that the combination of all your personality traits, interests, skills, and ways of thinking is unique and beneficial for the college. Make sure to reply to all the main questions and your essay will be strong and passionate enough.
How to Start Your Common App Essay
If you want to write a unique and outstanding common app essay, follow our tips below:
- Be creative. When it comes to a common app essay, you can turn on your imagination and creativity while it is not a standard essay having five paragraphs. Your structure, descriptions, and dialogue can be whatever you want them to be. But keep in mind it shouldn’t be the number of sentences. The flow of your thoughts and ideas should be natural and logic.
- Avoid any types of mistakes. When it comes to such an important for your studies essay, it should be perfect and contain no mistakes. Make sure to check it for any type of grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistakes, as well as typos. Avoid wordy language.
Some More Writing Tips
- You should not tell but show. Your essay should be vital, eye-catching, and engaging. Instead of simply telling “I felt lonely when I transferred schools” you can show why and how exactly you felt lonely by engaging more emotions. For example: “The faces in the new school were all unfamiliar to me and I always tried to find an empty table in the canteen to eat my lunch”;
- Use specific words. Don’t write generic sentences. Better include more details in them. Instead of writing “ When I was a kid, I always played dolls” you can write the following “Every day after coming back home from kindergarten, I took off my shoes quickly, ran to my room, and checked how my favorite Lucy and Sandy dolls are doing there. I didn’t even want to distract for my supper and played with them until I was asleep”;
- Use active voice over passive voice. It is preferable to use an active voice to show that the subject of your sentence performs a certain action which is indicated by the verb. For example, “this book was written by me” is better to replace with “I wrote that book myself”;
- Avoid using clichés. Some clichés don’t bring any value to the essay. Some popular quotes of well-known people are often misunderstood. So better say “I have no pride or no wish to be better over other people, I just want to do something special” instead of using one of the famous quotes, such as “A great man is always willing to be little” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Common App Essay Prompts
The common app essay prompts tend to change from one year to another. But here are some ideas to consider:
- You may have some interests or talents, maybe some interesting background, so feel free to use that all to complete your application.
- Think if you had some challenges in life or obstacles you had to overcome. They could make you exactly what you are now, so don’t forget to tell about them and show how you learned from your experience; if it made you stronger and affected your personality.
- If there is a problem you have ever solved or maybe would like to solve, describe it. No matter what it is, but it should be something that is of personal importance for you. You can explain why it is important to you and what you did or would do to find the solution.
- Have accomplishments? Go ahead and describe them and why they made you grow as a person.
- Describe something really interesting or captivating for you. Explain why it makes you forget about time.
- Remember that you can choose any topic you wish for your common app essay. You can choose the one you have written already about or something absolutely new.
It Doesn’t Matter what Prompt You Choose
You have 650 words to express what encourages, inspires, or excites you. It means that you shouldn’t repeat the information from your CV or resume. However, you shouldn’t also show that you are an outstanding person who changed the world or understood the sense of life. You can but don’t have to tell about your personality, family, gender, or race. Your common app essay aims to show real you. For now, you are an absolutely unknown person to them, so show them how your friends or family know you.
Your topic shouldn’t be too serious or of global importance but it should be meaningful. You can write almost about anything you wish while the common app essay prompts are varied and give you enough space for your ideas. Brainstorm your story and think of answers to the questions. It doesn’t matter for the admission committee what topic you choose.
What You Should and Should Not Write About
Avoid writing about the following things:
- Not interesting hobbies;
- Succeeding in conventional ways (becoming a boy/girl, winning the big contest);
- Traveling to foreign countries and the influence of it on your life.
- A beloved person or people who made a difference.
You can write about the following:
- What kind of fruit am I? Why?
- What periodic table element describes me best? Why?
- If I were one of the presidents from our history – who exactly and how would I make different decisions?
- If one of the famous artists was to make my portrait, who would I choose?
These are just examples of how you can write about yourself in an interesting way. It will be a unique and not standard essay that will catch the eye of the admission committee from the very first line and will keep their interest until the end when written properly. Avoid using boring sentences and stories, think of something outstanding that will make them think you are the one they need.