Getting Started Writing Your Common Application Essay

The new Common Application essay prompts are specifically designed to give you the opportunity to reveal your true voice and unique take on a time or event that shifted your thinking. Your essay should show how you think and tell about what matters to you by presenting yourself as a three-dimensional, authentic and unique person.

So how do you do this? First, forget everything you learned about writing an English paper. Please do not to sit down and immediately start writing answers to these essay prompts. If you do that, you will wind up with an English essay.

There is no one correct way to write a college essay, but in general, college admissions officers are looking for two important things:

• How the essay provides evidence of your achievements that aren’t reflected in other parts of your application.
• How and why the events that you describe have shaped your attitude, focus and your intellect.

It’s really crucial to take the time to dig deep and think. A strong essay will demonstrate that you have thought about and gained a clear perspective on your experiences. You want the admissions officer to be there with you in the moment as you tell your story and hopefully experience a reaction. Use your first person voice.

Remember, everyone has a story to tell; it’s just a matter of discovering that story.

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