Writing College Application Essays
College Application Essay
Many, but not all, college applications will require an essay. Even when the application doesn’t require one, it’s often presented as optional and is a great a way for you to share more about who you are, what makes you unique, and why you would be a good addition to the student body.
How to Write a College Application Essay
Crafting a college essay shares many similarities with crafting an academic essay. You’ll want to hook your reader with your intro paragraph and segue into any additional paragraphs you may have. You’ll want it to be free from typos and grammatical errors. But unlike an academic essay, your college application essay should shed light on who you are as a person and potential student at that school. Don’t try to use impressive words or sound too intellectual (unless that’s exactly who you are).
It’s also a good idea, if you have several prompts to choose from, to select a prompt about a topic that truly excites you.
Common App Essay
You may be applying to some schools that utilize the Common Application. If this is the case, you may be required to write an essay based on one of the offered Common App prompts. There are several prompts to choose from, so select the one that speaks to you and will give you the best opportunity to expand on who you are. This is an opportunity for you to shine and share more about yourself as a person which may not be reflected on the rest of your application.
College Application Essay Prompts
College application essay prompts will be provided on the application. If you are filling out the Common App, there will be a selection of prompts to choose from. The schools you are applying to may also require additional essays, for which they will likely provide a prompt.
The 2020-2021 Common Application Essay Prompts
If you’re interested in knowing the Common App essay prompts for the 2020-2021 application, we’ve included them below.
- Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, please share your story.
- 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?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- 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 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.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging 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?
- 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.
Common App Essay Word Limit
Your Common Application essay must be a minimum of 250 words and a maximum of 650 words. Keep that in mind when selecting your prompt. Chose one that you can write at least 250 words on, but keep from going over.
How long should a college application essay be?
If your college does not accept the common application, or requires a supplemental essay, the desired length of the essay will likely be specified, along with the prompt and instructions. If you’re unsure how long the essay should be, you can contact the admissions department for more information.
College Application Essay Examples
There are plenty of resources on the web for college application essay examples, including:
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