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What is the purpose of a college application essay?

Your college essay is the way that college admissions officers get to know you apart from your test scores and grades. It's your personality on the page.

The schools learn what kind of person you are—how you think, how you make decisions, how you see the world, and what experiences have been meaningful or important to you. Most of all, it helps the schools determine if you will  be a good fit.

What is the Common Application essay?
When people talk about a college essay, they're usually talking about the essay on the Common Application. The Common Application  is an application that is filled out once and sent to all the colleges you're applying to that accept it. Currently, over 800 schools accept the Common Application.

Do all schools accept the Common Application?
No. Schools that don't accept the Common Application usually require students to write different essays. Check your college list so that you know.

What do colleges look for in a college application essay or a personal statement?

College admissions officers look for three main things in an essay:
    •    How well you write
    •    How you organize your thoughts
    •    What's special about you

Colleges also look for a learning or growth experience.

Your story should contain a learning or growth experience.  For instance, your experience might have led you to develop new  goals, to recognize how you'd handle a certain situation differently, or to learn resilience when you work through an obstacle. Colleges look to see how you've grown because it helps them picture the type of student you'll be when you get to campus and adjust to a new environment.

How important for my essay to be original?

Very. That doesn't mean that you have to write about a topic no one else has ever written about (practically impossible). But it does mean that you should be telling a story that can only come from you—from your perspective, from your ideas, from your experience. No one else should be able to write it but you.

Do all colleges require a college application essay?

No, but most do.

What are the 2019-2020 Common Application Essay Questions?
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

 2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience.

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?

7. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. 

How many essays does the Common Application require?

What is the Common Application essay word limit?
650 words.

It is possible to upload more than 650 words?

Will some colleges want me to write additional essays?
Yes. Some colleges will ask you for one or more additional essays. These are called supplemental essays.

How can I keep up to date about the Common Application?

The Common App has a Facebook page. Like the page and get updates in your newsfeed.

Sharon Epstein
First Impressions College Consulting

Proudly providing college essay writing, interview skills, resume writing tips in Bethel, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Easton, Greenwich, New Canaan, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Stamford, Weston, Westport, Wilton Connecticut, and surrounding towns. Plus world-wide on the Internet.

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