The lessons one takes from the obstacles faced in life can be fundamental to later success. A student planning to study abroad understands how imperative this phrase is while writing a Common App essay. To write an appealing one, they need to recall an instance of overcoming a challenge, facing a setback, or experiencing something metamorphic. But is the selection of Common essay topics this easy?
No. One needs to pick an encouraging, interesting, intuitive, and life-changing experience/topic to master a Common App essay. Because the universities and colleges use it as an opportunity to know more about you.
So if you are in the process of writing one, ace your college application process by getting in-depth knowledge on Common App essays throughout this article.
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What is Common App?
Wondering what does the Common App look like or is? The Common App is an undergraduate admission application accepted by more than 900 schools globally. It includes countries like the US, China, Japan, and European regions. Each year more than 1 million students create their profiles on Common App, add colleges to the list, gather requirements, and submit applications. This App enables them to use the same application in multiple schools with information like name, demographics, extracurricular activities, and a personal statement (essay).
What is a Common App Essay?
For the uninitiated, Common App Essay is a personal statement that undergraduate students need to share with colleges that use Common App. It is part of the “holistic admissions,” where the admission committee is also interested in knowing you as a human along with your statistics, demographics, and scores.
In fact, some universities do not have a specific qualification score for the SAT/ACT exam. Instead, they judge your story, personality, strengths, passion, experience, and communication skills through this essay.
Now you know what is Common App essay, so let’s explore more about its importance and format
How Important is the Common App Essay?
Common App essay is critical if you wish to apply for a hyper-selective college with top grades and scores. A mediocre essay, in this case, can quickly sink your application. The Common essay allows the students to not only share their writing style but also highlight the motivating characteristics and abilities that might not be mentioned in other forms. So use this space and make it act as a tipping point in your academic journey!
Even after understanding “what is common app essay” and its essence many students still get confused about how to write Common App essay? But worry not! Let’s explore the following parameters.
What are the Latest Common App Essay Prompts?
Common App essay applications open in August; however, the prompts are available around March/April. The latest prompts for writing a personal statement can include:
- A story related to your background, identity, or interest, without which your application would be incomplete.
- A situation when you questioned a belief or idea. What prompted your thought process? Was it worth it?
- Something you have done for someone or others have done for you that is happy or thankful in an exciting way.
- An experience, event, or realization that ignited a period of personal well-being or growth.
- A topic, idea, or concept that is utterly engaging. The one that captivates and motivates you to seek more information on it.
Next, let us understand pointers like how long should your Common App essay be, what is the word limit on the common app essay, how to write a good common app essay, etc.
What is the Format for Writing a Common App Essay?
Are you wondering what is the word limit on Common App essay? There is no Common App word limit and the essay can be between 250 to 650 words. But we suggest writing a personal statement of 650 words. It will help you efficiently select and explain a suitable prompt from the Common App portal. Besides, we recommend you begin writing sample Common App essays 3 months before the submission by following this well-incorporated timeline.
Let’s dive into the steps on how to write Common app essay.
- Brainstorm: Initially, spend a week or 10 days in self-reflection. This analysis will help you comprehend who you are? what makes you unique? which things are you passionate about? what do you wish to achieve in life? And more.
After this, explore the given list of prompts, pick 3-4 among them, and begin brainstorming your ideal responses for each.
- Freewriting: Once you think of responses for 3-4 prompts, begin free-writing. Don’t consider restrictions like word count, flow, structure, or others if you get a good hand on the flow of thoughts. The goal here is not to achieve the final output but to get used to writing regularly, building a natural style, and learning to cover all critical parameters/aspects.
- Select the Right Topic: After a month of brainstorming and freewriting, select from the right Common essay topics to enhance your writing. Here, you can consider a story to hook the reader, a “focus” like a person, event, or experience, a topic that connects with your ambition, or a unique part of your personality like love for sports, environment, and more. Don’t forget to amplify your accomplishments and passion if you have lower overall scores.
- Begin Writing the Draft: By now, you will be ready to craft a logical, creative, and conclusive essay. However, few students might still get worried about the structure and conclusion of their writeup. Therefore, to help you, we have listed a few essay structures. You can pick from them, consider the Common app word limit, and prepare an outline for your personal statement.
Common App Essay Structure
- Begin with a personal, meaningful, specific, or classic story pattern and keep weaving it with your accomplishments.
- You can use the iterative essay pattern to talk about your growth, life journey, a specific issue (with no conclusion), or issues you have struggled with, like racism, gender inequality, etc.
- You can use the circular essay pattern to share a story/incident in the beginning without any conclusion. First, talk about your opinion, experience, and impact related to it throughout the essay, and then a conclusion at the end.
- You can choose the building challenges essay pattern to include all the obstacles you faced in your life.
- Lastly, you can use the creative pattern in which you get the liberty to choose an unconventional format/structure.
Now that you know the essay writing format, let’s explore some important Common Application essay tips.
Tips to Write Common App Essay
Following are the important tips on Common App essay:
- Brand Yourself: It doesn’t matter which prompt you have selected or what topic you have decided to write about. Because, in all, the essay should focus on your role in/around it. So don’t forget that the admission counsellor is reading the essay to select you for a particular course.
- Details are Necessary: In the US, 1 in 10 students use the Common App application for pursuing an undergraduate. The odds of writing an essay with a new topic are extremely low. Therefore, include all the details, and in the end, ask yourself— can anyone else explain this scenario or story better?
- Don’t Involve Many People: Even though it is paramount to take feedback on your essay but sharing it with many editors can be dangerous. In the editing process, they might lose the real essence and message of your write-up. Besides, an admission officer can easily tell the difference between an article written by a teenager and a parent.
- Writing Related Common App Essay Tips:
- Build suspense/mystery throughout the essay.
- Don’t add plain statements that are backed with an instance.
- Remember to answer the particular prompt that you have chosen from the Common App platform.
- Be deliberate, authentic, humble, natural, and transparent in your writing. The use of false/unbelievable information might seem pretentious.
- Ensure to include a key takeaway in conclusion.
- Do check for plagiarism and grammatical errors.
Frequently Asked Questions on Common App Essay
Ques. Can I edit the Common App essay after submission?
Ans: No, once a student submits the Common App essay, it gets locked for editing.
Ques. Is a Common App essay important for admission?
Ans: Yes, a Common App essay can count for 30% of your undergraduate application review. Besides, it is necessary for many elite and competitive colleges.
Ques. How much time should I spend writing a Common App essay?
Ans: Ideally, you should spend at least 3 months finalising your Common App essay draft.
Ques. Who can review my Common App final essay draft?
Ans: You can connect with a friend, parent, admission counsellors, or English teacher for feedback on your sample Common App essays. It is advised to share your draft with a maximum of two people.
Ques. Is there a difference between Common App and Supplemental essay?
Ans: You can check the “What is a Common App Essay” section to learn about a personal statement. However, supplemental essays are written in response to the college-specific prompts, directly addressing why one wants to study in a particular college.