7 Expert Tips to Ace the Common App Essay 2022
Common App essays are the most important personal statement that you will submit to colleges using the Common App.
This statement allows you to explore your passions, interests, passions, and strengths. As long as your topic is related to the prompt, you can talk about almost any topic you like. There are no restrictions on how you tell your story or what style you should use.
All colleges require the Common App essay. However, some colleges may request additional essays.
You will find a box on the application form to enter your essay. However, you should use Microsoft Word, Google Docs or another word processor to write your essay before you copy and paste it into this box.
1. Do not mistake a rare topic for an effective topic
Common App essays are often assumed to be unique and must focus on a topic no one else has written about. This is false.
Whitney Soule stated that “overuse of a subject doesn’t necessarily make it a poor topic.” Soule is currently Bowdoin College’s director of student aid and admissions.
“It’s more than just the topic,” says Jennifer Gayles director of admissions, Sarah Lawrence College. “But why it’s so important to you and how can you showcase who you are as both a student or an individual through that subject.”
It can be difficult to choose the right Common App essay topic, but it is crucial. Benedict stated that students he works with have a wide range of ideas and are not always sure what topic to choose. “Many times, during our brainstorming session, an idea will come up in discussion. I’ll say, “That’s a great idea,” and the student will be amazed.
Benedict suggests asking a series questions to help you identify possible essay topics. Are you at a turning point? Do you feel passionate about a subject?
Your essay should inspire and excite you as much as the people who read it. Benedict said, “If an essay topic makes you feel fast, it’s a sign that it is a good idea.”
2. Choose the best essay prompt for you
Common App essay prompts may not be the same. Some prompts will work better than others, but there are seven.
Lisa Mortini is the assistant director of admissions at New York University Abu Dhabi. She asks students to reflect on who they are and to trust their intuitions.
In a blog post she writes, “Don’t jump on the first prompt and start writing,” Ask yourself: Do you want to share with us a particular achievement? Are you willing to share your story about how you overcame hardships?
You can basically work backwards: Begin with a topic, then find the essay prompt that best fits it.
Thea Hogarth, College Essay advisors, shares the same advice: “Once your story is clear and defined, you will know which prompt will work well.” The Common App options can accommodate nearly any story.
3. Make the most of your space
Common App essays can be written in one of two ways by students: they either write too much and have to reduce it, or they write too little and sound generic and superficial.
Common App essay word count is between 250 and 650 words. How long should your statement be? Admissions Blog recommends that you aim for around 500 words. Becky Leichtling, a former Tufts University admissions officer, agrees.
Leichtling writes for Bright Horizons College coach. Leichtling states that the most common personal statement length is around 500 words. I consider 500 to be the “sweet spot,” but it’s okay to write essays closer than 430 or even 620 words if that’s what you are proud of.
4. Add details to your story
Common App essays are all about details. Experts recommend that you anchor your essay with one story or anecdote.
Shirag Shemmassian, the founder of Shemmassian Academic Consulting , writes that “Specific anecdotes can be your friend when it comes to drafting your Common App personal statements.” Try to tell people a story that reveals something about you.
Meredith Reynolds, Tufts’ associate director for admissions, recommends similarly that applicants emphasize specific elements in their essays. She says that focusing on the details will help you stand out.
Benedict recommends that you approach the Common App essay in a sequential fashion. She advised that you break down the topic into smaller pieces and then write a paragraph about each.
Also, talk about specific moments in your life. Refer to conversations that you have had. Describe the way something feels or looks. Your story will make you stand out, not the topic.
5. Channel Your Authentic Voice
Common App essays are different from other essays you have written for school. You must not analyze a piece or historical event but rather your identity. You must sound authentic and not like a teacher or thesaurus when you speak.
Benedict stated that students are used to writing academic essays. He also said that they try to impress people with formal-sounding structures and big words. The best essays are conversational, not academic.
Ian Fisher, an educational consultant, agrees. Fisher shares language tips for college essays in a blog post.
He writes that you will have to resist the temptation to ‘impress’ admissions readers with big words learned from your SAT practice.
However, students should avoid any offensive, derogatory or inappropriate language. Fisher suggests using words such as “debate” rather than “fight” or “undeveloped” instead instead of “stupid.”
Students should also avoid relying upon cliches. These phrases include “happy ever after”, “beggars cannot be choosers”, and “crack at dawn”. Benedict suggests that you have someone “cliche-proof your essay.”
6. Get feedback
You should submit your Common App essay to someone who can not only give feedback, but also proofread and edit it.
Shemmassian recommends that you give your draft to “a trusted adviser, English teacher, and/or other advisor.” Reynolds suggests that you “show your essay” to at least two people, one who is an excellent writer and one who really knows you.
Expert recommendations share one common thread: You should get feedback on your Common App essay as a top priority.
7. Don’t Neglect Supplemental Essays
Many universities are looking for applicants who can write the Common App essay. Do not spend too much time on the Common App essay if you have other essays. All essays could impact your chances of being admitted.
Benedict stated that supplemental essays are often included in the package at the most selective colleges or universities. These are very essential.
She also spoke about how a strong Common App essay and weak supplemental essays can reflect poorly on your application, increasing your chances of being rejected.
Benedict said, “I cannot stress enough how important the supplemental essays are.” All essays together form a “package” of your personality, which is important for the most selective universities. It is up to each individual to decide how to put this package together.