As a high school senior, the common app essay is the last hurdle standing between you and your dream college. This one piece of writing can make or break your chances of getting accepted into your top-choice institution. Crafting a compelling common app essay that wows admissions officers is crucial, but it can be daunting. Where do you start? What should you include? How do you make your essay stand out among thousands of others? Fear not, as this ultimate guide is here to help. In this guide, we will break down the key elements of a successful common app essay, provide tips and tricks to grab the reader’s attention and share examples of successful essays that got students into their dream schools.
So, grab your pen and paper, and let’s start crafting a common app essay that will impress admissions officers and get you one step closer to your college dreams.
Understanding the Common App Essay
The Common Application, or Common App, is a college application platform that allows students to apply to multiple colleges and universities simultaneously. The Common App essay is a crucial component of the application process, as it gives admissions officers a glimpse into who you are as a person, your values, and your writing skills. The essay is a personal statement that allows you to showcase your personality, interests, and experiences in a way that goes beyond your grades and test scores.
Below is the full set of Common App essay prompts for 2023-24.
- 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.
- 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?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- 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?
- Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.
Importance of the Common App Essay
The Common App essay is one of the most important parts of your college application. It is the only opportunity to speak directly to the admissions committee and explain why you should be admitted to their institution. A well-written essay can make you stand out from thousands of other applicants and increase your chances of getting accepted into your dream school. On the other hand, a poorly written essay can hurt your chances of admission, no matter how impressive your academic record may be.
Planning Your Common App Essay
Before you start writing your Common App essay, it is important to plan out what you want to say and how you want to say it. Begin by reading the essay prompts carefully and considering which resonates with you the most. Then, brainstorm ideas for your essay. Think about your experiences, interests, and values and how they have shaped who you are today. Consider what sets you apart from other applicants and what makes you a good fit for the college or university you are applying.
Brainstorming Techniques for the Common App Essay
There are many different ways to brainstorm ideas for your Common App essay. One effective technique is to make a list of your experiences, accomplishments, and challenges that have shaped who you are today. Consider the people and events that have impacted your life most and how they have influenced your values and beliefs. You can also try freewriting, where you set a timer for 10-15 minutes and write down whatever comes to mind without stopping or editing yourself. This can help you generate ideas and get your creative juices flowing.
Writing Your Common App Essay
Once you have a clear idea of what you want to say in your Common App essay, it is time to start writing. Begin by creating an outline that includes an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Your introduction should grab the reader’s attention and provide a thesis statement summarizing your essay’s main point. The body paragraphs should provide evidence and examples to support your thesis statement, and the conclusion should summarize your main points and leave the reader with a lasting impression.
Common App Essay Mistakes to Avoid
There are several common mistakes that students make when writing their Common App essays. One is to focus too much on their accomplishments and not enough on who they are. Another is to use cliches or generic language that does not convey their unique personality or experiences. It is also important to avoid using inappropriate humor or language, as this can be off-putting to admissions officers. Finally, proofread your essay carefully for spelling and grammatical errors.
Common App Essay Examples
One of the best ways to understand what a successful Common App essay looks like is to read examples of essays that got students into their dream schools. Here are a few examples from different universities and colleges
- Tufts University Common Application Personal Statement
- John Hopkins University Common Application Essays That Worked
- New York University Essay Examples
These essays demonstrate the importance of being authentic, vulnerable, and memorable in your writing.
Editing and Revising Your Common App Essay
After you have written your Common App essay, it is important to edit and revise it carefully. Start by reading your essay out loud to yourself or a friend and make notes of any awkward phrasing or unclear language. Then, revise your essay for content and structure, ensuring each paragraph flows logically and supports your thesis statement. Finally, proofread your essay carefully for spelling and grammatical errors.
Submitting Your Common App Essay
Once you have edited and revised your Common App essay, it is time to submit it. Follow the instructions carefully and double-check that you have included all required materials, such as your transcripts and test scores. Remember that your Common App essay is just one part of your application, so make sure your other materials, such as your resume and letters of recommendation, are also strong.
Crafting a compelling Common App essay is not easy, but it is essential to get accepted into your dream college or university. By understanding the key elements of a successful essay, brainstorming effectively, and revising carefully, you can create an essay that stands out from the crowd and impresses admissions officers. Remember to be authentic, vulnerable, and memorable in your writing and to proofread carefully for errors. With these tips and tricks, you can craft a Common App essay that wows admissions officers and gets you one step closer to your college dreams. Good luck!