We suggest that for the first essay (where you choose one of the seven prompts), the extended essay stay around 650 words. Throughout this guide, "Common App Essay," "Common App personal statement," and "personal statement" are used interchangeably. All those essays, all those forms, all those questions? When did you have a crucial, meaningful, or important conversation with them? Answering this question is your first step in formatting your essay. When you read aloud, you can catch it. No need to get precious—no fancy Moleskins here, and no laptops or tablets unless you are physically unable to write by hand. We’ve seen students write about the New England Patriots, the poetry of John Keats, their grandparents’ village, their obsession with keeping too many Google Chrome tabs open, how grilling meats represented a rite of passage, and many more topics that range from the super-serious to the lighthearted but still meaningful. Too much feedback can confuse your sense of mission. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. Follow our top tips to get this step completed as quickly as possible. Further reading: How to Write Great UC Essays), Get our free 110-page guide to help you with every single one: How to Get Into America’s Elite Colleges: The Ultimate Guide. ), (Suggested reading: Which Schools Use the Common App? Returning to the outline, or making the outline partway through, would remedy that. But feeling that you have more to say than you can fit is often a result of insufficient paring-down—that is, you probably haven’t chosen the right specific prompt to get your personal statement into particular, small territory. Describe the first time you saw their home, in story form. My clients generally submit Essay A’s between 650 and 750 words. (Remember: Specific anecdotes are your friend when drafting your Common App personal statement. This is crucial because your application is a chance to offer not only the facts about you but also a narrative of you—a sense of who you are, how you move through the world, and what you hope to become. So I owe Dee's Sports Bar a surprising amount. Tell the story of the first time you did this thing. What class assignments have gotten you thinking hardest? Below is the question applicants will see: Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. What class was hardest for you in high school? If there is anything else you feel we should know about you that has not been covered in this application, please add a personal statement following your essay. You might be afraid of picking that mythical ‘wrong topic,’ say, the one thing every admissions officer is secretly sick of reading about but which no one will tell you. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. There are a number of ways you can offer the admissions committee context for something you think went ‘wrong’ in high school, whether that’s low grades, imperfect attendance, or something else. He found himself writing a lot about mistakes, public performance anxiety, and the pressure to get a piece just right. Admissions officers are people—people who would be horribly bored if their job came down just to numbers, statistics, cutoffs, and counting up your AP and SAT and ACT scores. Let’s follow this through with Ramya’s essay on the Patriots. Ramya needs to advance that—to tell us something that shows maturity, shows an ability to reflect and introspect that will come in handy in college and adulthood... 4. Another way of thinking about this is: does your potential topic contain a person (other than you), a setting, and a beginning/middle/end? If you run out of things to write, write “I don’t know I’m bored I don’t know help help I hate writing!” until new words come. Think quality, not quantity. Be humble. Tell the story of the day you tried it. Tip #8: The right essay-voice is the most polished version of your speaking-voice. (Note: The Common App Essay prompts are diverse enough that they allow you to write about pretty much anything. (Ramya has, at some point, assured the admissions committee that she’s not drinking in this bar!). Why? She’s spent her high school years participating in a variety of activities. As Ramya’s original first draft moved on, it stumbled into a very Common Error #4: the curious case of the missing lesson. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? As Yale Admissions says, "It doesn't matter which topics you choose, as long as they are meaningful to you. At the bar, nobody cared what I got on my last math test or which boy was asking my friend to prom. Three months - August to October (barely making the early application/early decision deadline): First two weeks of August: Brainstorm and work with prompts, First week of September: Complete first draft of Common App personal statement, Week two of September: Complete second draft (here is where the major revision work comes in), Weeks three-four of September: Complete third and fourth drafts, Beginning of October: Seek feedback, if you have not already, from a trusted admissions counselor, English teacher, or other advisor, Week two of October: Complete final draft, Now you have the second two weeks of October to complete your secondary essays for anywhere you are applying early with a November due date, and the rest of November to complete any remaining secondary essays for schools with December and January due dates (most regular decision deadlines). They’re about getting you in touch with the most authentic and vibrant version of yourself. For J, this might mean beginning with a time before he and his sister were close—say, when all the siblings were in the house and there wasn’t much time for the two to connect. This was the billboard paragraph Ramya reached after a few rounds of edits: There are a few different kinds of loyalty. The Rank-Ordered List, Could your child use extra help to submit amazing college applications? About politics? Are they the same ones today? The long essay prompt is actually the essay you'll write as part of your Common App or Coalition App. If you’re well below that limit, it’s worth asking yourself why your personal statement is so short. Good luck! Who helped you get there? What’s the most memorable thing about you? Then the natural place to end it is the time he almost messes up but doesn’t, which shows us how he’s grown overtime. There are no strict word limits. Word limit: 650 words. Tell the story of an important day or event in relation to one of these topics. Where did you grow up? As you saw in the prompts above, we’re big advocates of beginning with a particular story or anecdote. What notes should your essay hit? 2. In his free time he draws comic strips, and he’s had a few on display at various community events in his town. When did you first meet them? It’s a classic, and should not be underestimated. If you’ve spent your summer freewriting and then carefully selecting the right essay topic, you’re now in a strong place to start writing—ideally at the end of July or early August. At Dee's Sports Bar in San Jose, with my dad, watching our team… She also tells us about Dee's itself, taking the chance to show the admissions committee that she has narrative skills in just noticing things: By the end of the football season, the staff knew what we wanted to sit… we were loyal to Dee's, just as we had to be loyal to the Patriots, even when they seemed to be letting us down. Six minutes, that’s it! Parents who get too handsy with their kids’ essays can do their children a real disservice; it’s clear when someone who isn’t 18 was serving as the guiding force in the essay-writing process. Why? Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. This new question will be a text-entry response with a 500 word limit. From my toddler days, as I sat mesmerized in front of the screen to today, as I analyze every statistic that I can get my hands on, I love every aspect of the team. Here are a few things you need to know about the Common Application essay. Some of these are made up but others are closely based on essays we have worked with students on over the past ten-plus years—and these students successfully met their admissions goals, including getting into multiple Ivy League and other top-tier schools. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. If it comes from someone you respect, think it over seriously, but remember that this is your voice, and write the person or tell them that you value their input but you think the essay sounds more like you if you keep it as it was. You’re looking for something that you can put in your pocket and carry into the future, and in an impressive and ideal world, something that the reader of the essay can say: “wow, I like that way of thinking, and I might even return to that one day.”. Click here to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation today to ensure you leave nothing to chance. (Tip: the stuff that isn’t always linked to an anecdote or story but is important to you can often be useful for those secondaries.). Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. 2020-2021 Common App Prompts and Essay Examples From large research universities to small liberal arts colleges, over 800 colleges in the United States use the Common Application . Tips for Answering Common Application Essay Prompts 2020 – 2021. Buy a few composition notebooks: those $1 things, available at Walmart or the like. Doing so will bring you close to the sensible word limit. One month - October to November (for regular decision schools): First week of October: Brainstorm and work with prompts, Third week of October: Complete first draft of Common App personal statement, Last week of October: Complete second draft (here is where the major revision work comes in), First two weeks of November: Complete third and fourth drafts, Mid-November, before Thanksgiving break: Seek feedback, if you have not already, from a trusted admissions counselor, English teacher, or other advisor, Last week of November: Complete final draft, Now you have December to complete any remaining secondary essays for schools with December and January due dates (most regular decision deadlines). Tell the story of one of them. We will be working with our integration partners to ensure that this option is available to all counselors regardless of which platform they use. It’s best not to hand your essay to every person who comes your way, no matter how many smart teachers, friends, and peers you have at your disposal. Loyalty to a team, to an establishment, to other people—even to oneself. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If six minutes doesn’t work for you, or if you think you’re not getting in the zone in that amount of time, try doing three pages in your composition notebook instead. He also has a little sister, who he’s never been tight with. Other defining aspects include its status as the second largest campus in the world with over 8,000 acres, its undergraduate enrollment of 7,000 students, and its ranking as #2 in the nation by Forbes in 2019.. Stanford’s freshman application asks students to respond to 4 different short questions and 3 relatively longer essay questions as part of their admissions process. Tell the story of a time that’s happened—or imagine, on the page, what that would be like. 5. Broad, right? If this sounds like you, then please share your story. Let’s say Michael wanted to write not about learning to surf from his grandfather but about learning when his grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer. If you have not already addressed those changes in your uploaded school profile or elsewhere, you can elaborate here. They form the cornerstone of the qualitative side of your application. Then he’ll introduce the theme of the essay. What do you bring with you? Why? They’re also not a place to prove that you’ve had some major epiphany, changed the world, seen the Truth of reality, etc, at eighteen. But the fact that her prose naturally settled on that as its first short, sharp sentence tells us that she’s making a statement she probably believes in. Student #2: Anita: Anita has an aptitude for English and history. Your Trusted Advisors for Admissions Succes, Writing a strong common app essay will help you stand out to colleges, beyond your GPA and TEst scores, (Note: This guide can also be found in our free, 110-page comprehensive guide to top college admissions, How to Get Into America’s Elite Colleges: The Ultimate Guide.). Many students have the instinct to explain themselves, including any failings or perceived failings, while writing their applications. For the 2020-2021 college application season, the prompts are the same as those from the 2019-2020 school year: For the 2020-2021 college application season, the prompts are … What values did you grow up holding dear? Where were you? Unfortunately, you won't get to use one of these bad boys to write your essay. Tell the story. The Common App allows you to fill out things like your name, demographics, extracurricular activities, and more, just once for every school that uses it. Ramya never suffered from either of these problems; she sounded like herself even in early drafts. I didn’t turn to drink—I turned to the TV screen. Student #1: Ramya: Ramya intends to be pre-med in college, but isn’t sure if she wants to major in biology or something else entirely. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. Does that matter? It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. It would be a good opportunity to give the admissions committee some insight into her psychology behind the success. Tell it the way you’d write a short story. But you’ll want one to work with, to anchor the piece at some point. Of course, the terrifying part of starting any new piece of writing—whether you’re a professional, seasoned author or a high schooler planning for college—is the spooky glare of the blank page, that blinking cursor that doesn’t quite seem to yield to you. The Specific Experience Essay: This module is one of the most flexible and powerful types of essays. What do your friends come to you seeking help with? About coming out? Tip #4: Try a reverse outline. Does what happened that day influence you today? Prompt 4. Tell the story of a time when you think you did a great job of helping another person. Anita’s comes during an English class two years later when she first reads the poetry of John Keats and William Wordsworth and realizes these writers were engaging with exactly what she experienced during her solo in the wilderness. Describe images and your reactions. The Common Application essay recently made adjustments to its essay prompts. What is the Common App Essay word limit? It’s better to show the admissions committee that you are capable of finding and making meaning through the experiences you’ve had as a young person, no matter how small or limited they may seem to you. The Circular Essay: In this essay, the writer begins with a scene or image or concept and then will circle back to that scene or image or concept before the end of the essay in order to make sense of the initial opening. If Josh has always had a perfect relationship with his sister, well—first, no one will believe that!, and second, Josh is not really telling a story. Allowing your writing to breathe away from you can prevent you from committing one of the cardinal sins of personal statement-writing—but also all writing!—trying to force the story into what you think it should be instead of what it is. If you instead use an individual story as a stand-in for something larger, or for something else, your essay becomes a kind of parable or lesson that educates your reader both about you and, hopefully, about a part of the world they’ve never previously considered. How did you come to disagree? If you’re working with a teacher, counselor, or advisor on your statement, they can help you discern whether you’re in cliché territory or whether you’ve bypassed it to a more fruitful realm. Your recommenders might have a chance to write something about it in their letters, if they were in a position to see you during or after the rough period. Your Personal Statement is your major chance to articulate the qualitative aspects of yourself to the admissions committee, and the admissions committee’s major chance to know you as a person. It’s short, clear, and leads us to—Tip #3: define your terms. Student #3: Josh: Josh isn’t sure what he wants to study. Common App Essay - Quick Tips & Word Limit The regular application essay is a sort of essay that means to help the entrance advisory board to find out about you. We’ve already referenced Michael’s essay a few times, but he’ll be writing about his grandfather teaching him to surf and the lessons surfing has given him off the board and out of the waves. Therefore, we encourage you to brainstorm your best stories first and then think about which question to answer. The new language will not replace the current Additional Information question inviting students to discuss circumstances and qualifications not reflected elsewhere in the application. Once you’ve written one draft of your essay, print it out. Every year, the college application process seems to get more complex, and more intense. Tell the story of an argument—cordial or not—that you’ve had with someone about this issue. We want to provide colleges with the information they need, with the goal of having students answer COVID-19 questions only once while using the rest of the application as they would have before to share their interests and perspectives beyond COVID-19. The score was 27-23, and the Patriots had missed too many opportunities. And we talk about sports as equals. We’re starting with Common App Essay Prompt #7, since it is the broad, general question. UT recommends submissions between 500 and 700 words. It brings to life the student—you!—behind your statistics and demographics. The Common Application Freshman Essay Prompts Required minimum-maximum word count: 250-650. The Mini-Odyssey Essay: The last classic and powerful module is the good old problem-driven essay. A good Common App Essay topic can relate, as much as possible, to a particular anecdote, story, or even scene. All these point to one thing: this is where you shout, HEY! Review the Common App prompts and identify which ones get your juices flowing. Many young writers wish to reflect on things like charity, service, leadership, loyalty, friendship, kindness, morality, etc—these are big topics. 1. If you’re a student, you might be reviewing rumors and horror stories about that classmate of yours with perfect grades and a 1500 SAT score who somehow got rejected from every Ivy League school. With the right question, you can use your Common App Essay as a window into who you are, rather than feeling burdened by the belief that you must communicate your ‘whole self’ in your application. It’s the way you communicate with the admissions committee as a person and as a potential member of the campus community. But Ramya isn’t just talking about loyalty, a word which could mean many different things to many different people. You want to open with a common app essay word limit 2021 word limit of 650 words, `` it does n't matter which you. 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