10 Quick Tips For Writing A Great Common Application Essay

Writing the Common App essay can strike fear in the hearts of some students. The broad, open-ended topic selections are welcome for students who enjoy creative writing or know what story they want to tell; for others, such freedom can be stressful. Those 650 words can be a daunting task for some students.

No matter which topic you choose, here are a few handy tips to help you craft a Common App essay that stands out from the stack:

  1. Make sure the essay sounds like YOU (not your brother, not a thesaurus, and definitely not your mom)
  2. Choose a topic that is interesting or meaningful to you
  3. Too many opinions can often confuse a writer - this can make an essay wind up jumbled or unfocused
  4. Use the essay to show off something about yourself that isn't on your resume or the rest of your application
  5. Avoid choosing any topics just because you think it's something the admissions officers will want to hear
  6. Consider highlighting a small moment or memory that ultimately reveals something bigger about yourself
  7. Be aware of overused topics (travel abroad, mission trips, big sports win/loss) 
  8. Keep a look out for anything that is generic, cheesy or cliché - make sure those clichés have no place to hide
  9. Don't make your essay sound too formal (this means writing like you are writing a report or trying too hard to sound intellectual)
  10. By all means, do not regurgitate your activities or resume