We’re often asked about how to turn a community service experience into an amazing common app essay. The answer is that you probably shouldn’t.
The Common Application essay––often referred to as your personal statement, or just “your college essay”––is an integral piece of your total application. The role of the essay is to help admissions’ officers get an idea of how you think. Once they know that, they can craft a well-rounded group of kids. That means your job in your essay is to show how you think and what kind of person you are. Colleges can already see your grades and your test scores. They can read the things your teachers say about you. They can look at a list of extracurriculars you’ve been involved in from the beginning of Time. But the bottom line is that as much as those things paint a picture, the basic point of your college essay is to answer, in your voice, the broadest question of all: “Who Am I?”
Hello. We made it and we’re back with a final blog post on the 2019-2020 Common App prompts. We’ve analyzed and dissected all of the other Common App essay prompts from this year for you, so we’d highly recommend reading those posts if you haven’t already read them. But let’s get right to it because Prompt #7 is our personal favorite.
We’re nearing the end! We’re running through each and every prompt option listed in the Common App 2019-2020 writing section. We’re on prompt #6 out of 7 prompts, which means you might have a good idea of which prompt you’re going to choose, or you might not have a clue and feel ravenously eager for more content. We get that. Let us present prompt #6 for your consideration, with some key suggestions. It’s a fun one.
Continuing our series on the Common App 2019-2020 prompts, we’re reviewing prompt #5. Read on if this prompt intrigues you, annoys you, or you just want to know our thoughts on it. We’re very opinionated, if you can’t already tell. Particularly when it comes to essays. And the titles of them. And everything in-between.
We’re moving through these prompts in our series on the Common App essay prompts for this 2019-2020 application season. We’re going through every prompt and investigating, contemplating, and analyzing them down for parts. So many words, so little time! So little direction! It’s a lot. We know. That’s why we’re calling it like we see it with each prompt and giving you a bit of wisdom for if (and when) you’re feeling stuck. Here are our thoughts on prompt #3:
Welcome to our overview of the Common App essay prompts for this 2019-2020 application season. We’re reviewing each prompt, discussing the pros and cons, and deciphering what it’s actually saying. We know that it can get messy and confusing because it’s overwhelming. It’s particularly overwhelming because you know that your personal essay is the most important part of your application. We’re your Google Translate for the Common App. Read on for the ins and outs of Common App prompt #2.
Welcome to the 2019-2020 college application season. It’s here and we’re doing a series on the seven Common App personal essay prompts because, a) it can be overwhelming, and b) it can be hard to decipher exactly what “they” want to hear. They, meaning the schools on your school list.
We recently received this email from one our readers:
“Hi Caroline! I am STRUGGLING to get an idea for what to write about for my common app essay. I'm over the whole "overcome challenges, and solving problems". I think they're overdone and I'm looking to try something new. Any ideas?”
Some days, it might feel like there is just so much to do when it comes to the college application process. And there is. But the personal statement, while significant, should come as somewhat of a relieving assignment. Unlike other essays, this one requires no research. It just requires some knowledge about yourself and often, the best ones are just honest, authentic portrayals of some aspect of the applicant. In fact, the best ones are usually those in which the writer had some fun.
It’s about that time of year when we start fielding questions about timelines, essay topics, and the Common App. It’s also the time of year when students find every excuse in the book not to keep things moving regarding the college process. The dreaded task of studying for finals might even seem more appealing than creating your Common App account, or perhaps you’ve deemed rewatching every season of Game of Thrones more important than opening up the Common App homepage.
There is exactly one requirement for the Common App essay: it must be 650 words or less. That’s it.
The rise of flickering cell phone screens, social media, and the insane competition of college admissions will define this era in history. Alongside the innovations and competition of the 21st Century is a rise of anxiety amongst all age groups, including, and perhaps especially, teenagers. Your anxiety is totally valid. It’s real and it is something that you should communicate to colleges, but you need to know where to send the message.
The college application is holistic. What that means is each part of it should help to complete a picture of the applicant for the admissions committee. As such, no two parts should be the same. A lot of kids end up writing their essays about something that’s already represented elsewhere in the application, like an extra-curricular. While we typically advise against doing that, there is an exception.
The goal of the essay is to tell a story that illuminates something new about you to the admissions committee. Many students take this as an opportunity to try and get deep. Students frequently write about tragedy or major, life-altering obstacles they’ve faced. Some students choose to write about how they’ve grappled with something like addiction or disease. While those experiences are valid, there is a whole separate section just for them. This essay is not the appropriate platform. The trouble with writing about, well, trouble, is that one often falls short of connecting with the anonymous readers, and the whole point if the exercise is to connect with those very people.
The good thing about writing a common app transfer essay is that you’re already familiar with the process. You’ve already made a common app account, filled out all of the logistical sections, and hit submit. The even better news is that this time around you’re asked a much more direct question. You have 650 words to explain why you want to transfer and what you hope to achieve. The objective is incredibly clear and the question leaves a lot less room for interpretation.
Write about something that doesn’t appear in your activities section or resume
Every single component of your application, from essays to short answer supplements, should show the admissions committee a different part of you. Let your personality become three dimensional. Don’t just rattle of the same redundant information they’re going to see on your resume.
Identity is a word that you’ll see often during the college process and it can be daunting to anyone, not just someone writing a college essay.
Not all Common App essays are created equal. In fact, many are garbage. That’s good news for you. In this blog post, we discuss how to get ahead of your competition by creating an excellent and memorable Common App essay.