Students sometimes ask us whether or not they can submit different versions of the Common Application essay to different schools. As we’ve said before, the Common App is changeable. So yes, you can absolutely change the essay, submit it to a school, change it, and submit it again.
But why on earth would you do that?
You’re Equals. Act Like It
Often times, when someone wants to write different Common App essays for different schools, it’s because they think they need to tailor their application to each specific school. For our purposes, think of the Common Application process as you would dating. If you want to go on a date with someone, you shouldn’t suck up to them. You shouldn’t change your hair or pretend you don’t collect Ninja Turtle action figures because they might like it better.
Now, that’s not to say that if you’re going on a first date you shouldn’t shower. The same goes for the application. Edit, spell-check, and try your best. Be on good behavior, just as you would on a first date, but have some confidence in yourself. Trust that you have done the work, that your writing will shine through, and that the right school is going to see you for who you are and really want you around just as much as you want to go there. You are equals.
There’s a Time and Place to Show Them That You Care
Of course, when you are dating someone, you may want the opportunity to talk about your relationship, impress them a little bit, and show them that you care. Similarly, the college application process offers supplements. The supplement is the time for you to really tailor your writing to a specific school and show off some of your great knowledge. Just don’t be too cheeky and name drop Camellia Grill when applying to Tulane. The supplement should still be solely about you.
Of course, there is a caveat. Just like in the world of dating, when things aren’t going particularly well, it’s appropriate to reflect upon how we could work a little bit harder or make a change.
If a student doesn’t get into their Early Decision school, we may recommend changing the Common Application essay. When students don’t get into their top choice school, we look at the Common App essay with our “It’s Going to Be Okay” package.
The Paralysis of Indecision
Sometimes we run across students who want to submit different Common App essays for different schools because they have written two versions and can’t decide. If you are having this issue, shoot us an email and we will help you choose. As a practice, we highly recommend trying to get over your indecision now. In the real world, there are far more choices than in high school so now is a good time to try and get over it.
Need some help with your college essays? That’s what we do. You can reach us here.