Again, read your essay out loud. An impressive essay generally contains a strong opening, well organized content, and a powerful closing. Start with an outline and design your essay paragraph by paragraph. Make sure you include enough background information about whatever topic you are writing about so that the reader can put it into context.
For example, one student wrote an excellent essay about a horrible first day of school, but forgot to include that he had just moved to town, from halfway around the world, and was struggling with English. Resist the temptation to run off and start writing. Experts will tell you that up-front planning of your essays is well worth the time invested.
Research the College Before Writing the Essay. Almost every school has its own identity and mission. Some universities even have a slogan. Others have niche areas of study that they like to promote. Pay attention to what is important to the particular school and, when appropriate, consider including it in some manner in your essay. Invest in a Strong Introduction. Admissions people read a lot of essays and may not be energetic and fresh when yours reaches the top of their pile.
It is critical that the first few sentences capture their interest. A boring opening may cause the reader to not pay close attention to the remainder of the essay. Design the introduction to draw them into your essay. A well-planned essay may omit some key details in the opening forcing the reader to pay close attention to the rest of the story.
Start Early and Take Your Time. Application essays almost always take longer than you anticipate. Invest the time necessary to do it right.
It should be your best work. Ask others to review your drafts and offer comments and suggestions. Like most large public schools, the University of Maryland has some all-star professors. While Virginia Tech is known especially for engineering, its business, social sciences, and agriculture programs are also strong. UC—Davis has made a reputation as an affordable school that produces results. The school is best known for its agriculture and animal science specialties.
UC-Irvine shines in serving one of the most diverse student bodies in the country: UC-San Diego is one of the top research universities in the country, with renowned science programs, especially in marine biology and oceanography.
Like other colleges in the University of California system, the San Diego campus stands out for its comparative affordability for state residents. The college is well known for its business, agriculture, and engineering programs, as well as a recreation, park, and tourism management program.
MIT is one of the best known and most respected science colleges in the world. Cooper Union is unique—a small, urban school that offers degrees only in art, architecture, and engineering.
As a result, more than two-thirds of its students graduate without taking out loans. In fact, Cal is one of the most selective public colleges in the country. The university has a high graduation rate at an affordable price for a private education. The typical Rice student majors in engineering, economics, or biology, and the university is also well known in the field of political science.
Graduates of the selective private school fare well in the workforce: The University of Michigan accepts less than a third of the nearly 50, students who apply, and is nearly as popular with out-of-staters as with Michiganders.
It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. Since this is a choose-your-own-adventure prompt, colleges aren't looking for anything specific to this prompt. However, you'll want to demonstrate some of the same qualities that colleges are looking for in all college essays: What are your values?
How do you face setbacks? These are all things you can consider touching on in your essay. If you already have a topic in mind for this one that doesn't really fit with any of the other prompts, go for it! Avoid essays that aren't really about you as a person. So no submitting your rhetorical close-reading of the poem "Ode on a Grecian Urn" you wrote for A. However, if you want to write about the way that "Ode on a Grecian Urn" made you reconsider your entire approach to life, go ahead!
PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools , from state colleges to the Ivy League.
We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. We've covered a lot of ground, but don't panic. I've collected the main ideas you should keep in mind as you plan your Common App essay below. Most students have an experience or interest that will work for either prompt 2, prompt 4, or prompt 6. If they don't speak to you, don't feel compelled to write about them.
If you do want to take on prompt 3 or 5, however, remember to clearly explain your perspective to the reader , even if it seems obvious to you. For prompt 5, you need to clarify how you moved from childhood to adulthood and what that means to both you and others. I've tried to emphasize this idea throughout this guide: Pushing past the surface level while avoiding cliches and generalizations is a big challenge, but it's also what will make your essay stand out.
Make sure you know what personal quality you want to emphasize before you start and keep it in mind as you write. Try to avoid boring generalizations in favor of more specific and personal insights. I'd solved the puzzle; what would I do now? What does it show about me? How can I go one step deeper? What's important is to tell your story — and no one can tell you what that means because it's unique to you.
Many students believe that they should write about resume-padding activities that look especially impressive, like volunteering abroad. These essays are often boring and derivative because the writer doesn't really have anything to say on the topic and assumes that it will speak for itself.
But the point of a personal statement isn't to explain what you've done, it's to show who you are. Make sure you're prepared for the rest of the college application process as well, with our guides to asking for recommendations , writing about extracurriculars , taking the SAT , and researching colleges. We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:. Alex is an experienced tutor and writer.
Over the past five years, she has worked with almost a hundred students and written about pop culture for a wide range of publications. You should definitely follow us on social media. You'll get updates on our latest articles right on your feed. Follow us on all 3 of our social networks:. How to Get a Perfect , by a Perfect Scorer.
Score on SAT Math. Score on SAT Reading. Score on SAT Writing. What ACT target score should you be aiming for? Common App Essay Prompts Posted by Alex Heimbach Jul 16, I'll break down every single Common App essay prompt by covering: What is the question asking? What do college admissions officers want to hear from you? What topics can you write about effectively? What should you avoid at all costs?
Basic Info on the Common App Essay Before we dig into the nitty gritty of the individual prompts, let's quickly go over the logistics of the Common App essay and some general tips to keep in mind. Want to build the best possible college application? Download it for free now: Follow us on all 3 of our social networks: Ask a Question Below Have any questions about this article or other topics?
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For years the Common Application had no length limit, and applicants and counselors frequently debated whether a tight word essay was a wiser approach than a detailed word piece. In , that decision was taken away as the Common Application moved to a relatively short word limit.
On the common app it says that the essay should be a minimum of words, but what do you think is the most it could be?
The version of the Common Application has an essay length limit of words. Even though the essay prompts change regularly, this length limit has now been in place for four years. In and , the Common Application had a word limit, but many colleges that use the application thought that constraint was a little too short. The Common Application has announced that the personal statement essay prompts will be the same as the prompts. By conducting a review process every other year, rather than annually, we can hear from admissions officers, as well as students, parents, and counselors, about the effectiveness of the essay prompts.
The exact word limit for the Common App essay has varied somewhat over the years, but the current range is words. You must stay within this length; in fact, the online application won't allow you to submit fewer than words or more than common app essay length for this year For years the Common Application didn’t have a strict length limit. Counselors and applicants often debated whether a tight word essay happened to be .