The Common App, or the Common Application, is a type of admission application used by students where they can apply to more than 800 colleges. The Common App is used in countries like the US, Canada, China, Japan, and numerous European countries. Common App is, to be more precise, a non-profit membership organization that represents higher education institutions. The app is intended to provide a direct connection between the students, or applicants, and the public or private colleges and universities.
What does the Common App do?
Because millions of students apply to college each year, the admission and application process needed to be changed. The Common App is the exact change that the higher education needed. It simply removes all the barriers between students and colleges in terms of access. Moreover, the Common App serves a diverse range of students and institutions, so everyone can expect a simple application and support throughout the application process.
How does the Common App function?
The way the Common App functions is that it sets a task for the applicants. The applicants are required to write an essay of 650 words, and there are seven prompts applicants can choose from. Some of the prompts include sharing a personal story about identity, interest, talent or one’s background, writing about one’s struggles and setbacks, overall life experience, ideas, and belief, etc. Applicants can also write about their accomplishments, moments of ethical dilemmas, problems they’d like to solve, and much more. Because writing the essay can be tricky, students surely need some kind of guidance and examples. That is why in the following paragraphs we’re to take a look at a Common App essay example that you can observe before writing your own.
What should the Common App essay be like?
Before we look into the examples of the essays, it is important to know what they should actually look like. The admission essays for the Common Application need to comprise the answers to the following questions;
- Who is the person writing the essay? – this means that the essay should present your personality and who you are not only in the professional sense but also who you are as a whole.
- Does the person writing this essay have what it takes to improve and add to a certain field of study or the university/college overall? – now, this part is important, as you need to present yourself in such a way that shows you will contribute to the value of a medical field or the university or college you’re applying to.
- Is this person able to express themselves in the written word? – this means that you should be definitely able to write. So, the essay needs to be impeccable, not only in its content but also when it comes to grammar, sentence structure and overall organization, coherence, and cohesiveness.
Common App Essay Example – No Stranger to Contrast
Analysis of No Stranger to Contrast – a good example of how you should write your essay;
- The essay clearly focuses on the writer’s initial influences and the relationship with his father (how his father sparked the writer’s love for the mysterious, puzzles, numbers and the need to develop his intellectual and complex problem-solving skills). This relationship is wonderfully paired with the writer’s background, origin and the general life endeavors that have led him to the very moment of writing this essay. The story build-up in the essay is excellent, and it truly leaves the reader wanting to know where the essay writer will actually end up and what the future holds for him.
- The writer of this essay has managed to present himself as someone who is very into personal and intellectual growth, who is open-minded and into creative and critical thinking. These qualities always work well with the admission staff. Applicants are always advised to show their enthusiasm for studying, improvement and personal growth.
- The tone and writing in this essay are also excellent. The writers seem to be a composed person who is very thoughtful and observant. He also seems to be self-aware and completely in tune with his own personality and inclinations. This is especially important for the admission staff to recognize, as it shows that the writer of this essay can blossom in a healthy campus environment and that he has a lot to contribute. The language of this essay is informative but very conversational. And the fact that the writer managed to present himself so thoroughly in only 605 words is very impressive. The writing is very straightforward, but also a bit reminiscent, nostalgic as well as hopeful and promising.
Mistakes and topics to Avoid for your 2020 Common App Essay
Of course, the Common Application, as well as Tufts, do not release the bad essay examples for the students to observe. The essays are usually very personal, and that could create some privacy issues with the students who submitted their essays. However, the Common Application can point out the common mistakes applicants make in their essays. Here are the mistakes you should avoid for your 2020 Common App essay submission;
- Writing about how amazing you are – essays that revolve around self-bragging and listing of numerous personal achievements aren’t really something you should go for. Boasting and bragging in order to stand out amongst the competition may have worked at one point, but in this decade, the admission staff is over such topics. Writing about how amazing you are is overused and cliche.
- Writing about sports – sure, there might be that one sports essays that do excellent in the application cycle, like the ‘Striking Out’ Common App essay from last year. And, as it is self-explanatory, writing about sports is so last year. Of course, this is not simply about the trending terminology here, it is about the fact that this topic can be extremely boring. It has been seen thousands of times, and it always revolves around the same things; teamwork, losing games, winning games, perseverance, etc. It is overused and cliche, just like the previous topic.
- Writing about traveling to an exotic country – sure, traveling to someplace exotic can be a life-changing adventure to many people. But, truth to be honest and very bold, no one really cares. Imagine this topic and essay being like the pictures someone’s showing you from their trip to, let’s say Thailand. You’ll be interested in the first few pictures, and the rest will be all the same, boring an annoying. Moreover, think about the message you’re sending by tackling such a topic in a college admission essay; wealth, time to spare, flaunting, not really working on self intellectually, etc.
- Using cliches, complicated language, sounding phony, bad grammar and typos – these are simply unforgivable in college admission essays. Make sure to avoid these mistakes if you want to get into the college you’re applying for. They will show that you’re not genuine about your future at that college, that you’re not keen on details and accuracy or that you’re too much into yourself and your ability to make simple expressions extremely complicated.