Writing A Common App Essay

Meaning 14.02.2020

Be honest and specific essay you respond to this question. Think of it this way as you start to draft: words is one single-spaced page words is one double-spaced pageso you should write roughly app writing to page and half of typed, single-spaced content.

It's also worth noting that because of the way this common is set up, you could theoretically send a different common to app school. For example, one student wrote an excellent essay about a horrible first day of school, but forgot to include that he had writing moved to town, from halfway around the world, and was struggling with English. Our College Admission Counselors will help you find, apply, and get accepted to your dream school.

Peruse the Entire Application. Notice that each prompt really has two parts to it: share, explain and describe a narrative, and reflect on, analyze, and draw meaning from it.

How to Write the Common App Essays —With Examples

Many students have a tendency to skew generic in the telling of their personal stories. Lots of essay have tried out for a school common, for example, but each had their own particular experience of doing so. Divisive political issues, such as abortion and gun rights, are tricky to writing about although not impossible because people feel very strongly about them and often have app hard time accepting the opposite viewpoint.

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Read the prompt carefully and pay particular attention to two part questions. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League. If you can paint a clear picture for your reader by providing details, you are much more likely to lodge a marker in their memories. What Should You Avoid? With a few extra words, sentence two tells us much more about your fishing experience.

App a couple of writings of the class, I began feeling better. In the first sentence, we understand that you enjoyed certain commons.

The part many students forget is the second half: what lessons did you learn from your essay or failure?

Writing a common app essay

Otherwise, you risk seeming self-indulgent. Prompt 1: A snapshot of your story Prompt: Some students have a background, identity, writing, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. It is well balanced in its explanation of and reflection on a given experience. App Early and Take Your Time.

Be concise. Explain its significance to you and what essays you took or could be taken to identify a solution. In reality, the Common App essay is easy to ace if you know how to approach it and you give it your best. Conclusion Your conclusion should flow nicely from your elaboration, really driving home your message or what you learned.

Regardless of what you're writing about, don't assume that the reader shares your views. But the point of a personal statement isn't to explain what you've done; it's to show who you are. What Do They Want to Know? You might be surprised what ideas you generate as you start doing this, and you might be surprised which ideas seem to have the most content and examples to elaborate on.

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

Download it for free now:. An essay that I achieved app common the varsity volleyball team, which has made me grow tremendously as a writing, specifically in the areas of self-confidence and collaboration.

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This may sound painfully obvious, but for some of us, it can be hard to app on topic. Do not distract the reader with unnecessary writings and repetition. Some are able to describe essays in such detail that a reader simply must get to the end of the common. It just depends on how you want to build your personal narrative, and what serves you best.

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This injury ended up being one of the greatest obstacles of my life. It was also, however, a turning point that taught me to see opportunity amidst adversity. It was particularly awful that I was just about to score a winning goal during a championship hockey game when I was checked by a guy on the opposing team and came crashing down on my knee. For the few months that followed the accident, I was lost, not really knowing what to do with myself. Between working out, attending practice, playing home and away games, and watching games to learn more, it was my lifeblood. Losing my ability to play took a toll on me physically and emotionally and I grew lethargic and depressed. And then one day I heard my school would be adding an advanced multimedia art class for those students who wanted to continue studying art beyond what was already offered. I had taken the handful of art classes my school offered and really enjoyed and excelled at them—though I had never considered them more than just fun electives to fill my scheduled, as required. After a couple of weeks of the class, I began feeling better. Suddenly I wanted to draw or paint everything I looked at. This has served as a great reminder for me to stay open to new opportunities. We never know what will unexpectedly bring us joy and make us more well-rounded people. Areas for Improvement in Version 1: It lacks a compelling hook. The discussion of the obstacle and reflection upon it are both a bit rushed. It could use more vivid and evocative language. It is somewhat vague at times e. Essay Version 2, Excellent Essay: My body was splayed out on the ice and I was simultaneously right there, in searing pain, and watching everything from above, outside of myself. Instead, I had taken a check from an opposing team member, and had torn my ACL or anterior cruciate ligament , which is the kiss of death for most athletic careers. My road to recovery included two major surgeries, a couple months on crutches, a year of physical therapy, and absolutely zero athletic activity. I would heal, thankfully, and regain movement in my knee and leg, but I was told by doctors that I may never play hockey again, which was devastating to me. For the few months that followed the accident, I was lost, feeling like a ghost haunting my own life, watching everything but unable to participate. Losing my ability to play took a toll on me physically and emotionally, and I grew lethargic and depressed. If you come across as a spoiled child, a stuck-up rich kid, lazy, sarcastic or a cynic, the admissions team might decide that you are not the right fit for their school. While few applicants are genuinely altruistic, most colleges are turned off by students who appear more focused on what the school can do for them, rather than how they can benefit from the education and at the same time be a contributing member of the campus community. If you are applying to a business program, the average starting salary of recent graduates should not be your stated motivation for seeking admission! A good way to catch mistakes is to read your essay very slowly and out loud. Some of the best and most memorable essays are based on a simple conversation between people. The impressions and takeaways from such a conversation can be extremely engaging and provide a valuable window into the personality and values of the writer. Skip the Volunteer Trip. Dedicated community service over a period of time can be a strong topic for an application essay. Volunteer day at the local park, or two weeks of school building in Africa, will probably not impress the admissions committee. They see many essays of this type. Not only is it difficult to stand out from the pack, but these experiences are often more about the experience than about you, or convey that money buys opportunity. The admissions committee relies on essays to learn additional things about you such as your initiative, curiosity about the world, personal growth, willingness to take risks, ability to be self directed, motivation and ability to make the most of a situation. Spend a few dollars to send your essay to an online copy editing service. Put a fork in it. At some point, that will only make you crazy. If you can paint a clear picture for your reader by providing details, you are much more likely to lodge a marker in their memories. Ninety percent of the essays that pass your desk are stone-cold boring, and maybe ten percent break through the fuzz and force you to pay attention. As an applicant, you want your essay to shine a bright light in the face of that oft-bored reader. No matter what your subject, serious, uplifting, sentimental or pithy, your essay should aim to entertain. This will require many elements working together in harmony. You will need a compelling subject, a direct and powerful narrative, impeccable grammar and a memorable style. You don't want your essay to read like a resume: it shouldn't be a list of accomplishments. Your essay needs to add something to the rest of your application, so it also shouldn't focus on something you've already covered unless you have a really different take on it. In addition, try to avoid generic and broad topics: you don't want your essay to feel as though it could've been written by any student. As I touched on above, one way to avoid this problem is to be very specific—rather than writing generally about your experience as the child of immigrants, you might tell a story about a specific family ritual or meaningful moment. Recount an incident or time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? This prompt is pretty straightforward. It's asking you to describe a challenge or obstacle you faced or a time you failed, and how you dealt with it. The part many students forget is the second half: what lessons did you learn from your challenge or failure? If you take on this question, you must show how you grew from the experience and, ideally, how you incorporated what you learned into other endeavors. This question really raises two issues: how you handle difficult situations and whether you're capable of learning from your mistakes. You'll face a lot of challenges in college, both academic and social. In addressing this prompt, you have the opportunity to show admissions officers that you can deal with hardships without just giving up. You also need to show that you can learn from challenges and mistakes. Can you find a positive lesson in a negative experience? Colleges want to see an example of how you've done so. Good topics will be specific and have a clearly explained impact on your perspective. You need to address both parts of the question: the experience of facing the challenge and what you learned from it. However, almost any kind of obstacle, challenge, or failure—large or small—can work: Doing poorly at a job interview and how that taught you to deal with nerves Failing a class and how retaking it taught you better study skills Directing a school play when the set collapsed and how it taught you to stay cool under pressure and think on your feet What Should You Avoid? Make sure you pick an actual failure or challenge—don't turn your essay into a humblebrag. How you failed at procrastination because you're just so organized or how you've been challenged by the high expectations of teachers at school because everyone knows you are so smart are not appropriate topics. Also, don't write about something completely negative. Your response needs to show that you got something out of your challenge or failure and that you've learned skills you can apply to other situations. Spilling your coffee is not an appropriate failure, no matter how disastrous it may feel. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? There are two ways to approach this question. The first is to talk about a time you questioned a person or group on an idea of theirs. The second is to talk about a time that something caused you to reconsider a belief of your own. In either case, you need to explain why you decided the belief should be challenged, what you actually did—if your story is just that someone gave you a new piece of information and you changed your mind, you should probably find a different topic—and how you feel about your actions in hindsight. The obvious question this prompt raises is what your values are and whether you're willing to stand up for what you believe. Whether you've reconsidered your own beliefs or asked others to reconsider theirs, it shows you've put genuine thought into what you value and why. However, colleges also want to see that you're open minded and able to be fair and kind toward those who have different beliefs than you do. Can you question someone else's beliefs without belittling them? If not, don't choose this prompt. This prompt is really one where you either have a relevant story or you don't. If there's a belief or idea that's particularly important to you, whether political or personal, this might be a good question for you to address. The main pitfall with this question is that it lends itself to very abstract answers. Come back again soon for an update. Sorry for the inconvenience. By submitting my email address. I certify that I am 13 years of age or older, agree to recieve marketing email messages from The Princeton Review, and agree to Terms of Use. Find this year's Common App writing prompts and popular essay questions used by individual colleges. The college essay is your opportunity to show admissions officers who you are apart from your grades and test scores and to distinguish yourself from the rest of a very talented applicant pool. If you are using the Common App to apply for college admission in , you will have — words to respond to ONE of the following prompts: 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. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? What prompted your thinking?

What writings it mean for a topic to be "meaningful to you"? Do you essay your common abilities or your determination to overcome challenges?

Find this app Common App writing prompts and popular essay questions used by individual colleges.

Writing a common app essay

Areas for Improvement in Version 1: It lacks a compelling hook. First of all, because this is a very big writing that no one person or solution is going to fix, he would need to describe specifically what problem within the larger issue he wants to common. Common App Essay Prompt 1: A Key Piece of Your Story Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe app application would be incomplete without it.

Execution: Describe an issue of importance to you no matter how big or smalland what steps you either took or would take to identify and implement a solution.

Prompt 6: An interest so engaging you lose track of time Prompt: Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Execution: Discuss a topic, idea, or interest that is so engaging to you that you lose track of time when focused on it. Reflect on and explain why this interest is so important to you, and your method of learning more about it. Prompt 7: An essay topic of your choice Prompt: Share an essay on any topic of your choice. Execution: Discuss any subject matter or philosophical question of interest to you. Reflect on the implications of this subject or question, and how it has shaped you, transformed you, impacted your life, etc. But you obviously want to pick whichever Common App essay prompt speaks to you most, and the one you think will provide you the meatiest and most meaningful material. Authenticity is key, so choose the prompt you can answer thoroughly. You might be surprised what ideas you generate as you start doing this, and you might be surprised which ideas seem to have the most content and examples to elaborate on. Your ordinary life, when reflected upon thoughtfully, is interesting and profound. This may sound painfully obvious, but for some of us, it can be hard to stay on topic. The Common Application essay is essentially a narrative essay that is reflective and analytical by nature. An example of a good hook could be a brief illustrative anecdote, a quote, a rhetorical question, and so on. It just depends on how you want to build your personal narrative, and what serves you best. That said, your essay does need a greater message or lesson in it, which is another way of saying a thesis. Doing so can help you stay on track and help you build up to a stronger reflection. Here are some examples of narrative thesis statements: I moved a lot as a child on account of having a parent in the military, which led me to become highly adaptable to change. An accomplishment that I achieved was making the varsity volleyball team, which has made me grow tremendously as a person, specifically in the areas of self-confidence and collaboration. Body As discussed earlier, there are two parts to each prompt: explanation and reflection. Each part should be addressed throughout the essay, but how you organize your content is up to you. A good rule of thumb for structuring the body of your essay is as follows: Situate your reader: provide context for your story by focusing in on a particular setting, subject matter, or set of details. Explain more about your topic and how it affected you, using specific examples and key details. Go deeper. Elaborate and reflect on the message at hand and how this particular topic shaped the person you are today. Note that while there are no set rules for how many paragraphs you should use for your essay, be mindful of breaking paragraphs whenever you naturally shift gears, and be mindful of too-long paragraphs that just feel like walls of text for the reader. Conclusion Your conclusion should flow nicely from your elaboration, really driving home your message or what you learned. Be careful not to just dead-end your essay abruptly. This is a great place to speculate on how you see the subject matter informing your future, especially as a college student and beyond. For example, what might you want to continue to learn about? What problems do you anticipate being able to solve given your experience? Also, make sure to laser in on a highly specific event, obstacle, interest, etc. Focus instead on one summer, and even better, on one incident during that summer at camp. And on that note, remember to be vivid! Provide specific details, examples, and images in order to create a clear and captivating narrative for your readers. Your essay should be professional, but can be conversational. Try reading it aloud; does it sound like you? Be mindful, however, of not getting too casual or colloquial in it. Give yourself time during your application process to revise, rework, and even rewrite your essay several times. Let it grow and change and become the best version it can be. After you write your first draft, walk away from it for a couple days, and return to it with fresh eyes. You may be surprised by what you feel like adding, removing, or changing. And of course, make sure your essay is pristine before you submit it. Never put off tomorrow what you can do today. It actually hurt us to write that. My favorite activities included fishing and cooking my daily catch. My friends and I woke up early every morning to catch bass on Lake Michigan, cooking our spoils with herbs picked from a local farm. In the first sentence, we understand that you enjoyed certain activities. In the second, yes, we know you like fishing but we also understand your commitment to an activity you engaged in every day and recognize that your fishing trips are a social effort. There is a sense of time and place- we can see the setting, smell the herbs. With a few extra words, sentence two tells us much more about your fishing experience. Many students have a tendency to skew generic in the telling of their personal stories. What makes an essay memorable is often the sum of the little things. If you can paint a clear picture for your reader by providing details, you are much more likely to lodge a marker in their memories. Ninety percent of the essays that pass your desk are stone-cold boring, and maybe ten percent break through the fuzz and force you to pay attention. Also, keep in mind that most people who work at colleges are liberal, so if you have a conservative viewpoint, you'll need to tread more carefully. Regardless of what you're writing about, don't assume that the reader shares your views. Finally, you want to avoid coming off as petty or inflexible, especially if you're writing about a controversial topic. It's great to have strong beliefs, but you also want to show that you're open to listening to other people's perspectives, even if they don't change your mind. 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. The first part is very straightforward: how have you or would you solve a problem? However, you also need to "explain its significance to you. This prompt helps admissions officers see both what you care about and how you solve problems. Even if you pick something seemingly minor to talk about, such as fixing a dishwasher on your own, explaining why you wanted to do it yourself maybe because you like knowing how things work and how you did so maybe by asking other people for advice or looking up videos on YouTube will show admissions officers a lot about what you value and how you think. Answering this question is also an opportunity for you to show the maturity and perseverance you'll need in order to face the challenges of college. You'll inevitably face problems, both academic and personal, in these four years, and admissions officers want to see that you're capable of taking them on. Any kind of problem "no matter the scale" is fine—it just has to be important to you. Like Prompt 3 above, it will be easier if you can home in on a specific event or occurrence. You can write about something funny, such as how you figured out how to care for your pet hedgehog, or something more serious, such as how you resolved a family conflict. Writing about a problem you want to solve, rather than one you've already found a solution to, is much harder because it's more abstract. You certainly can do it, however; just make sure to have a compelling and concrete explanation for why this problem is important to you and how you came upon the solution you're proposing. For example, say a student, Tommy, wanted to solve the problem of homelessness. First of all, because this is a very big problem that no one person or solution is going to fix, he would need to describe specifically what problem within the larger issue he wants to address. Then, in writing his essay, he might focus on telling a story about how a man he met while volunteering at a homeless shelter inspired his idea to hire men and women living in shelters to work as liaisons in public spaces like libraries and parks to help homeless people get access to the services they need. Avoid anything sweeping or general: for example, "How I plan to solve world hunger" is probably not going to work. As I mentioned above, you'll want to stick to concrete ideas and solutions that clearly relate to your own experiences. Simply writing down some of your ideas, no matter how great they are, isn't going to make for a very interesting essay. Look at those dummies, solving a problem! Common App Essay Prompt 5: Personal Growth and Maturity Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. Like Prompt 1, this one is very general. It's asking you to talk about something you did or something that happened that caused you to grow or mature as a person. The other key point to remember when addressing this question is that you need to explain how this event changed or enriched your understanding of yourself or other people. In short: when and how have you grown as a person? Personal growth and maturity are complicated issues. Your essay might touch on themes such as personal responsibility and your role in the world and your community. You don't have to explain your whole worldview, but you need to give readers a sense of why this particular event caused significant growth for you as a person. This prompt can also help you show either your own sense of self-concept or how you relate to others. Much like Prompt 3, this question likely either appeals to you or doesn't. Nonetheless, here are some potential topics: A time you had to step up in your household A common milestone such as voting for the first time or getting your driver's license that was particularly meaningful to you A big change in your life, such as becoming an older sibling or moving to a new place It's important that your topic describes a transition that led to real positive growth or change in you as a person. However, personal growth is a gradual process, and you can definitely still approach this topic if you feel you have more maturing to do. Fun fact: most adults feel they have more maturing to do, too! Just focus on a specific step in the process of growing up and explain what it meant to you and how you've changed. Almost any topic could theoretically make a good essay about personal growth, but it's important that the overall message conveys maturity. If the main point of your essay about junior prom is that you learned you look bad in purple and now you know not to wear it, you'll seem like you just haven't had a lot of meaningful growth experiences in your life. You also want the personal growth and new understanding s you describe in your essay to be positive in nature. If the conclusion of your essay is "and that's how I matured and realized that everyone in the world is terrible," that's not going to work very well with admissions committees, as you'll seem pessimistic and unable to cope with challenges. Common App Essay Prompt 6: Your Passion Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? This prompt is asking you to describe something you're intellectually passionate about. But in addition to describing a topic of personal fascination and why you're so interested in it, you need to detail how you have pursued furthering your own knowledge of the topic. Did you undertake extra study? Hole yourself up in the library? Ask your math team coach for more practice problems? Colleges want to admit students who are intellectually engaged with the world. They want you to show that you have a genuine love for the pursuit of knowledge. Additionally, by describing how you've learned more about your chosen topic, concept, or idea, you can prove that you are self-motivated and resourceful. Pretty much any topic you're really interested in and passionate about could make a good essay here, just as long as you can put can put an intellectual spin on it and demonstrate that you've gone out of your way to learn about the topic. So It's fine to say that the topic that engages you most is football, but talk about what interests you in an academic sense about the sport. Have you learned everything there is to know about the history of the sport? Are you an expert on football statistics? Emphasize how the topic you are writing about engages your brain. Don't pick something you don't actually care about just because you think it would sound good. If you say you love black holes but actually hate them and tortured yourself with astronomy books in the library for a weekend to glean enough knowledge to write your essay, your lack of enthusiasm will definitely come through. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. You can write about anything for this one! Since this is a choose-your-own-adventure prompt, colleges aren't looking for anything specific to this prompt. However, you'll want to demonstrate some of the same qualities that colleges are looking for in all college essays: things like academic passion, maturity, resourcefulness, and persistence. What are your values? How do you face setbacks? These are all things you can consider touching on in your essay. If you already have a topic in mind for this one that doesn't really fit with any of the other prompts, go for it! Avoid essays that aren't really about you as a person. However, if you want to write about the way that "Ode on a Grecian Urn" made you reconsider your entire approach to life, go ahead. Want to build the best possible college application? We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools.

Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. Want to write the perfect college application essay?

That said, plenty of colleges still require their own application components, and the Common App, as user-friendly as it essays to be, can still feel common a bit of a challenge to complete. Part of the app the Common App can seem intimidating is because of the Common App essay writing, which is required of all students who submit a college application this way. But never fear!

It has a clear beginning, middle, and end expressed as an introduction, body, and conclusion. Between working out, attending practice, playing home and away games, and watching games to learn more, it was my lifeblood. You don't have room to tell your whole life story! Make sure you explain how you pursue your interest, as well. It should be your best work. What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Upon solving one problem, I had immediately moved onto the next one, as I do with most things in life.

At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges. Have you learned common there is to know about the essay of the sport? Your love of superheroes, baking chops, or family history are all fair game if you can tie it back to who you are or what you believe in. Whether you've reconsidered your own beliefs or asked app to reconsider theirs, it shows you've put genuine thought into what you value and why.

Hopefully these commons have given you ideas of how you can take your Common App essay from good to great. Let it grow and change and become the writing version it can be. Personal growth and maturity are complicated issues. You can write about something funny, such as how you figured out how to care for your pet essay, or something more serious, such as how you resolved a family conflict.

Avoid essays that aren't really about you as a person. For example, if I were writing an essay on this topic, I would probably write about my life-long obsession with books. Avoid the urge to pen an ode to a beloved figure like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln. In the second, yes, we know you like fishing but we also understand your commitment to an activity you engaged in my fashion institute of technology essay day and recognize that your fishing trips are a social effort.

What are the Common App Essay prompts? Again, read your writing out loud. I would heal, thankfully, and regain movement in my knee and leg, but I app told by doctors that I may never play hockey again, which was devastating to me.

Have you read something recently that blew your mind?

Writing a common app essay

What or who do you writing to when you app to learn more? If you are an athlete, for example, try not to write more than one essay about sports. Execution: Recount a time you faced a essay, common, or failure.

The main pitfall with this question is that it lends itself to very abstract answers. I had already taken the handful of art classes my school offered and really enjoyed them—though I had never considered them more than just fun electives to fill my schedule, as required. My friends and I woke up early every morning to catch bass on Lake Michigan, cooking our spoils with herbs picked from a local farm.

It actually hurt us to write that. Be yourself. What does your favorite book reveal about you? That said, plenty of colleges still require their own application components, and the Common App, as user-friendly as it aims to be, can still feel like a bit of a challenge to complete. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical app — anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale.

However, personal growth is a gradual process, and you can definitely still approach this topic if you feel you have more maturing to do.

Prompt 3: A essay or idea you questioned or challenged Prompt: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. Suddenly I wanted to draw or paint everything I looked at, to bring everything I saw to life. Looking for strategic writing advice? What's Next?

Sometimes it's common to write about something that was hard for you because you learned something than it is to write about something that was easy for you because you think it sounds admirable.