After the SAT, the Common App essay may be the most feared part of the college admission process. Fitting your entire life story into 650 words? Impossible! However, there are many tips and tricks to use as guidelines to craft an amazing college essay and really put your best foot forward in the college application process. Here are just a few:
1. The early bird gets the worm
The first tip for writing the Common App essay is to start early. The admission essay is something that requires time, focus, and dedication; waiting until the last minute will not give you the result you desire. Invest the proper amount of time necessary by brainstorming and completing a draft over the summer before applications go out.
2. Take time to brainstorm
One problem that many students (including myself) have concerning the Common App essay is coming up with a topic. In our defense, it is sometimes difficult to think of something monumental to write an essay about. There are seven prompts released by Common App; they aren’t that daunting because you can basically choose any story you want to tell about yourself, but they can inspire and help you construct a thought-provoking question that will lead to the right topic.
It’s important to remember your essay should not be designed to just impress an admission officer—your Common App essay topic needs to be something important to you. It can be serious or humorous, about your family, an interest or hobby you’re passionate about, a life-changing event, etc. The possibilities are endless!
The main purpose of college essays is to reveal a deeper quality about you that would otherwise be unrecognizable through your grades and test scores. Take advantage of this! Your essay should shine with your personality as well as display your writing skills.
3. Be creative
Creativity is key when writing the Common App essay. Think about it: college admission officers are reading thousands and thousands of college essays. Do they really want to read another boring, generic paper? Plus, it’s easy to detect that a writer is disinterested in their essay and topic through their writing. Pick a prompt that is important to you and a topic that you feel passionate, comfortable, and excited to write about, and find a creative angle! Again, your opportunities for topics are infinite as long as you construct it to be engaging, interesting, and personable.
4. Organize your essay
A great Common App essay contains a strong, inviting opening; a well-organized body; and a powerful conclusion. Outlining your essay is a useful process that can assist you in designing the structure of the content. Write out the points you want to make, but don’t be afraid to reorganize as you’re planning (or writing!)—nothing is set in stone.
5. Proofreading is your new best friend
After you finish organizing your essay, the next step is to start writing! Take your time to construct a clear and interesting essay that reveals your personality. Once you finish, pat yourself on the back. You just finished the Common App essay!
Many of us may be eager to submit our applications, but editing and proofreading is essential to ensure a successful essay. Carefully review what you wrote, asking family, friends, and maybe a helpful English teacher to help edit and give constructive criticism. Comments and suggestions are for your benefit; your proofreader may catch a careless mistake that you missed.
The Common App essay is an integral part of the college journey; many students believe it’s a dreadful process, but it’s actually the opposite. You’re just writing about yourself—and you many learn something new about yourself while doing so. The college essay is all about meaningful reflection that can help you become a better writer and get you into your dream school. Happy writing and good luck!