Common App Essay Requirements 2019-2020

There is exactly one requirement for the Common App essay: it must be 650 words or less. That’s it.

That leaves a lot of room for creativity, and even more room for error. It’s completely understandable to panic when staring at that blank page, so we’ve put together a list of 25 suggestions of things we like to see in Common App essays. When we work with clients one on one, the process is much more in-depth, but you can use this list as inspiration as you start brainstorming. We suggest trying to incorporate at least three of the ideas below, but you must include #1.

  1. Tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

  2. Write about food.

  3. Break form. (Do not use the 5 paragraph essay model you’re taught in high school).

  4. Write about yourself (not sweeping claims about the world).

  5. Use a vignette structure.

  6. Write about what you do every night before bed.

  7. On that note, write about any routine that is important to you.

  8. Write about seemingly mundane things.

  9. Write about a time when you messed up (like when you were supposed to pick your grandma up at the airport on Tuesday, but you went on Monday).

  10. Be funny.

  11. Write the essay in poetry.

  12. Write about how you organize your closet, desk, or bookshelf.

  13. Write about why you prefer going to museums alone.

  14.   Write a movie scene.

  15. Write about your Rummikub strategy.

  16. Write about Thanksgiving, or a holiday at your home.

  17. Write about that time you stuck up for someone who needed it, even though it made you look uncool.

  18. Write the first or 168th page of your autobiography.

  19. Write a list of your top ten favorite plays, and explain why.

  20. Write about the time you used salt instead of sugar in your famous chocolate chip cookies.

  21. Write a scene from a play.

  22. Write about the YouTube rabbit holes you sink into when you can’t sleep at night.

  23. Write an essay about why you never read instruction manuals.

  24. Write an essay about your neighborhood.

  25. Write an essay that only you could write.

Need help writing an essay? Reach out here.