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Top 4 Common Application Essay Tips: 2018-2019 Prompts

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Do not choose a trite obstacle like failing a test or losing a soccer match. Also, do not draw attention to something you did that was illegal or dangerous, like distracted driving. In this essay then, you need to speak passionately about a belief or an idea, in a compact story with a beginning, middle and end. In the essay you also need to express what you learned from the experience. Responses are supposed to be personal, but make sure your idea or belief is not too controversial.

You do not know who will be reading your essay and you certainly do not want to turn anyone off to you. It is better to show that you are open-minded and have respect for the beliefs and ideas of others.

If you choose to answer this essay, you need to identify a problem with meaning and importance to you. Other variations include not eating meat, bullying, not having money, school tests, science project, etc. Even an everyday problem with significance to you can be turned into a great essay. Colleges like to see the thinking behind the problem or challenge, so include your decision-making process. It is also very important to choose a problem that is specific and meaningful and can end with you providing a solution — as the prompt asks.

Do not choose a problem that is superficial or generic. This essay should tell the colleges what you value and give them an idea of your outlook on life.

If you elect to tackle this particular question, take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate creative and critical thinking skills. This means, you can write about anything, from a formal event to an eye-opening thought. However, remember that the admissions reader is looking for a moment in your life that really changed you as a person. Everyone is different so an event, accomplishment or realization might encompass anything from the time you became a US citizen formal , to achievements like earning an award, taking on a large responsibility, or winning an election, to embracing a cause or realizing you are gay informal.

You know you found the right story when it has the element of transition and transformation. Here you are offered the chance to share your passion. If you choose to answer this, you must start with how you first connected with your passion. Most importantly, describe how you learned more. Where did you look when you wanted to learn more?

How creative were you in exploring your passion and how far did you take it? Did you find a mentor to help you? Take a job related to your interest? Did you start a club, organization or a website? Make sure that the reader can really feel your passion. Do not choose something you think will impress the committee reading this if it is not really your passion. If you have a story to tell that does not fit one of the above prompts, then here is your chance to submit it. Make sure whatever you write shows you in a great light.

The purpose of the college essay is to show who you are beyond your grades, courses, and scores. If you are an athlete, for example, try not to write more than one essay about sports. Read the prompt carefully and pay particular attention to two part questions. The admissions people are looking for a window into your character, passion and reasoning.

Be Personable and Specific. If you are asked to describe your reasons for your interest in a particular school that you are applying to, make sure your essay addresses the particular features of that school that appeal to you and explain why.

Many prompts specify a desired number of words or a range. In fact, many on-line applications will not even accept more than the stated limit. Lincoln got his points across succinctly in the Gettysburg address — in less than words.

Do not distract the reader with unnecessary words and repetition. If you come across as a spoiled child, a stuck-up rich kid, lazy, sarcastic or a cynic, the admissions team might decide that you are not the right fit for their school.

While few applicants are genuinely altruistic, most colleges are turned off by students who appear more focused on what the school can do for them, rather than how they can benefit from the education and at the same time be a contributing member of the campus community. If you are applying to a business program, the average starting salary of recent graduates should not be your stated motivation for seeking admission!

A good way to catch mistakes is to read your essay very slowly and out loud. Some of the best and most memorable essays are based on a simple conversation between people. The impressions and takeaways from such a conversation can be extremely engaging and provide a valuable window into the personality and values of the writer. Skip the Volunteer Trip. Dedicated community service over a period of time can be a strong topic for an application essay.

Volunteer day at the local park, or two weeks of school building in Africa, will probably not impress the admissions committee. They see many essays of this type. Not only is it difficult to stand out from the pack, but these experiences are often more about the experience than about you, or convey that money buys opportunity. The admissions committee relies on essays to learn additional things about you such as your initiative, curiosity about the world, personal growth, willingness to take risks, ability to be self directed, motivation and ability to make the most of a situation.

They are interested in your personal qualities such as leadership, confidence, ability to work in a team, strength of character, resilience, sense of humor, ability to get along with others and what you might add to the campus community. In short, use your essays to showcase a side of you not visible from other parts of the application. Peruse the Entire Application. Many applications, especially for some of the more competitive schools, are complex and require multiple essays and short answers.

For example, if you have five key areas you wish to cover, and there are five essays, try to strategically focus on one area in each essay. Resist the temptation to be a sesquipedalian or come across as a pedantic fop! Use caution when showing off your extensive vocabulary. You risk using language improperly and may appear insecure or overly eager to impress.

Check Your Ego at the Door. While self doubt is generally undesirable, a bit of humility can be well received, especially in an essay about overcoming adversity. Few students have a perfect resume, which is apparent in the application. Drawing attention to weakness in an essay is generally not a good idea, unless you were able to overcome a weakness, and make it a strong suit. Errors can doom your otherwise excellent application. Make sure you schedule sufficient time for a thorough review.


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For the application cycle, the Common Application essay prompts remain unchanged from the cycle. With the inclusion of the "Topic of Your Choice" option, you have the opportunity to write about anything you want to share with the folks in the admissions office. The current prompts.

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Get the Most Out of Your Common Application Essay Experience. The Common App announced their essay prompts for the school year back in January.

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The college application season has officially begun. The Common Application, otherwise known as the Common App, released its list of essay prompts. Get tips here. #CommonApp #essays #CollegeEssays #College #HighSchool #Parenting. While it may sound intimidating, the Common Application essay is easy to ace if you know how to approach it. We’ll break down what the essay is, how to write one, share Common App essay examples, and more! Tips for Your Common Application Essay; Last Minute Tips for the Early College Applicant; New Common Application Essays .

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With these tips and strategies, you should be well on your way to writing a perfect Common App essay. Best of luck from the CollegeVine team! For more help, feel free to reach out to work 1-on-1 with one of CollegeVine’s trained college essay specialists. Guide to Common Application essay topics by Dr. Bernstein. Get tips on essay prompts & strategies for writing your college application essays. Dr. Jennifer B Bernstein Founder and President of Get Yourself Into College, Inc. [email protected]