How to Prepare the Best Common App for US Colleges?

by Out-Class

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What is the Common App essay?

The Common App essay is the main personal statement students submit to US colleges that use the Common App and require essays. Students will have to choose one topic (prompt) out of seven and the length of the essay should be between 250-600 words.

 

What should you keep in mind when writing your Common App essay?

Brainstorm: 

Think of a general idea of what you would like to portray through this app. Answer questions such as: Who am I? What makes me unique? What matters to me?

The answers may be linked to your background, to a specific event in your life, to your race/religion/ethnicity and identity in general.

 

Mind Mapping Exercise:

Before starting, try freewriting about your life memories - people, situations and incidents in your past that stand out or had an impact on you. You don’t need to structure these thoughts or be formal in this exercise, but it will allow you to extract good content to choose from when you write your essay.  

 

Pick the best essay prompt for you:

Out of the 7 prompts, pick the one that is most aligned with the message you are trying to get across. 

 

CTA Slide 2

 

Write First, Edit Later

When writing, be mindful of some things:

  • Write in the active voice,
  • Be specific,
  • Avoid clichés.
  • Use a specific, compelling example to tell your story


It’s All in the Details

Make sure you pay attention to your flow of writing, and pay attention to all the little things. 

 

Channel your Authentic Voice 

The admissions officers will be going over hundreds, if not thousands, of common apps. Make sure your common app is unique to you and is an apt reflection of your identity. Be mindful when writing, and do your best to be true to yourself. 

 

CTA Slide 4

 

Get LOTS of Feedback

Get lots of feedback, but only from a few close people who truly understand you, and the message you are trying to relay through your common app. 

Also, if you keep re-reading your common app yourself, there is a high chance you will not notice your grammar, vocabulary and spelling mistakes. It is important to have someone read it with fresh eyes, and identify these easily avoidable mistakes. 

 

Don’t neglect supplemental essays

Although the common app is the primary essay requirement, supplement essays are a necessary addition to provide admission officers with a more thorough understanding of you, the applicant. The more information they have, the more they see your thought process through these essays, and the more your identity will develop in their minds. Be mindful of your time, and prioritise your supplemental essays as well.  

PS: Be kind to yourself through this process. Applying to Universities is NOT EASY, but it is definitely worth it. We hope this helped! 

 

FAQs:

Q. What is the Common App essay?

The Common App essay is the main personal statement submitted to US colleges using the Common App. Students choose one topic from seven prompts, and the essay's length should be between 250-600 words.

 

Q. What should I consider when writing the Common App essay?

Consider brainstorming to identify who you are and what makes you unique. Use a mind-mapping exercise to extract impactful memories. Choose the prompt aligning with your message, write first, edit later, and focus on details to showcase your authentic voice.

 

Q. How can I make my Common App essay unique?

To stand out, write in the active voice, be specific, avoid clichés, and use compelling examples. Pay attention to the flow of writing and ensure your essay reflects your identity authentically.

 

Q. Any advice for handling the application process?

Be kind to yourself throughout the challenging university application process. Though demanding, it's worth the effort. Follow our tips to master the Common App essay and present a compelling application to US colleges.

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