Tips on Writing the Common App and Supplemental Essays

THE FACTS

  • All applications processed at commonapp.org.
  • One 650 word essay sent to all colleges.
  • Five common app essay topics to choose from.
  • Individual colleges may have their own essay requirements: these are known as supplementals.

THE PURPOSE OF APPLICATION ESSAYS: THEY ARE ABOUT YOU!

  • They tell a personal story about you to help persuade an admissions officer that you’re a good candidate for the school.
  • They reveal your passions and what you’re proud of.
  • They tell us something about your goals, your interests and your personality.

COMMON ELEMENTS IN THE COMMON APP ESSAY QUESTIONS

  • You are asked to be personal, and tell an “I” story.
  •  There are questions within the question.
  •  They are looking for you to find a specific experience within your life to discuss.
  •  You are asked to reflect on how the experience affected you: what you learned, how you changed, how you’ve grown.

HOW TO BE YOUR BEST IN AN ESSAY

  • Sell yourself: reveal your best qualities.
  • Have a positive attitude about everything the experience has taught you.
  • Be strategic and selective with your accomplishments.
  • Provide evidence of your leadership ability.
  • Where possible, mention goals.
  • Reflect on what you have learned.

HOW TO DISCUSS ACCOMPLISHMENTS, LEADERSHIP AND GOALS

  •  Be strategic and selective in what you include. There isn’t room for everything.
  • Choose long term involvements and things you are passionate about.
  • Where appropriate, demonstrate your leadership qualities: creative thinking, initiative, perseverance, conflict management and ability to work well with others.
  • Where possible, share specifics academic interests, personal goals, career aspirations and dreams for the future.

HOW TO DISCUSS DIFFICULT EXPERIENCES

  • Be direct and honest.
  • Don’t overshare.
  • Reflect on what the experience taught you.
  • Focus on the positive where possible by demonstrating what you’ve learned.

SUPPLEMENTALS: THREE BROAD CATEGORIES

  • 1) straightforward questions about experiences, interest in the school or program.
  • 2) creative questions about “you.”
  • 3) critical thinking questions about philosophical, moral and cultural issues.

WHAT TO THINK ABOUT WHEN WRITING SUPPLEMENTALS

  • Keep your responses simple and packed with information.
  • Take time to consider your answer and say something specific.
  • Show your thought process, how you arrived at an answer to a moral or philosophical question.
  • Where appropriate, relate the question to something personal.
  • Take extra care to ensure that this is your best writing even when answers are short.

WRITING RULES TO REMEMBER

  • Answer the question.
  • Tell the truth.
  • Keep to the required word length.
  • Show us instead of telling us.
  • Be specific.
  • Use simple language.
  • Edit and Proofread.
  • Tell a good story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s