Tricks for Writing Common App Essays

Aug 22nd, 2014 | College Admissions, College Preparation, Newsletter

More than 500 colleges and universities throughout the United States accept the Common Application for evaluating students for admission. Students can complete the one Common Application, and submit it to as many schools as they wish, along with their supplemental essays (specific to the school). This makes the college application process slightly more efficient.

However, the Common App essays do require a lot of thought and hard work. There are five essay options provided on the Common Application (click here to review them). Students applying to college through the end of the summer and into the fall should take extra care as they craft their Common App essays.

With the expertise they practice in college admissions counseling, Sandweiss Test Prep recommends these tricks for writing Common App essays:

  • Tell a story about yourself. All of your credentials are included in the application, itself. In your Common App essays, share an anecdote (short story) about something you experienced or did that exemplifies your character or personality.
  • Reveal something about yourself that is not otherwise evident. Your ACT score is meant to tell admissions officers how academically prepared you are for college. Your GPA shows them how hard you have worked and/or succeeded in high school courses. But your Common Application may not show admissions officers how deeply that semester studying abroad influenced your desire to pursue medicine as a career. Share that extra depth about yourself in the essays.
  • Be honest about your achievements. Do not inflate your accomplishments or make up titles for yourself to embellish your essay – be truthful. As much as plagiarism is detrimental to your high school record, lying or exaggerating the truth can hurt your college experience, and may exclude you from acceptance if caught early.
  • Choose your words carefully. Remember that college admissions officers are reading through hundreds of essays, and likely will not appreciate a wordy, long-winded essay. Remove extra words and be clear and concise in each sentence.
  • Remember to entertain. The college admissions officers reading your essay have read (or are reading) many other students’ essays in the short time they have to make a recommendation. To make your essays stand out, include an element of entertainment – serious, funny, inspiring, or quirky.

Sandweiss Test Prep offers college entrance and standardized testing preparation classes, academic tutoring, college admissions guidance and coaching, and more. Contact Sandweiss Test Prep for more information, or to schedule a consultation for your student.

Featured photo from Flickr user davedugdale