How to Write a Common App Essay Part 1: Examples & Common Mistakes

How to Write a Common App Essay Part 1: Examples & Common Mistakes

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How to Write a Common App Essay Part 1: Examples & Common Mistakes
Sahil Dahal

The Common Application essay, affectionately known as the Common App Essay, is the cornerstone of undergraduate admissions for those aspiring to join American universities. Accepted by an impressive 800+ institutions, this 650-word narrative is both convenient and challenging. Fear not, for we're here to navigate you through the labyrinth of seven diverse Common App Essay prompts and help you discover the one that will elevate your college application.

Check Out: IELTS Essay Topics 2023

Choosing the Right Prompt

Selecting the ideal Common App Essay prompt involves a personalized approach. Instead of fixating on prompts initially, embark on a journey of self-discovery. Delve into your values, goals, and experiences. Once you've unearthed the perfect topic that resonates with you, aligning it with a suitable prompt becomes an organic process. The real challenge awaits: choosing a compelling and unique topic that reflects your individuality.

Understanding the Purpose and Traits of a Successful Common App Essay

A profound understanding of its purpose lies at the heart of a successful Common App Essay. This pivotal writing seeks to illuminate your potential for success in college and beyond. To guide you in this introspective journey, let's explore five traits that predict a flourishing college experience. Each trait presents an opportunity for you to weave a narrative that captivates your audience:

Drive (Grit)

Embark on a recount of a significant challenge you faced. Unveil the efforts undertaken to overcome it and delve into its transformative impact on your character.

Intellectual Curiosity

Take your audience on a journey through a subject you explore simply for the joy of learning. Share an experience that not only deepened your understanding but reshaped your worldview.


Share a compelling story of when you assumed leadership or addressed a problem proactively. Illuminate the impact of your actions and the invaluable lessons learned.

Contribution (Social Conscience)

Reflect on a moment when you positively impacted someone's life. Consider the consistent contributions you make to your community and environment.

Diversity of Experiences

Highlight the unique aspects of your background or life experiences that set you apart. Illustrate how these experiences have sculpted your identity and perspective.

In emphasizing these traits, it is crucial to substantiate them with specific and personal experiences. Invest time in brainstorming before you embark on the writing journey, as this upfront effort can save you from extensive revisions later.

Similar Topic: 100+ PTE Essay Topics (Updated 2023)

Examples of Common App Essay Topics

Election Data Enthusiast

Embark on a narrative journey of exploring low participation in school elections. Demonstrate the link between your intellectual curiosity and your contribution to the school community.

Mixed-Race Irish Dancer

Navigate the challenges of being the only mixed-race dancer in an Irish dance class. Showcase how your determination and unique background drive your pursuit of success.

Whataburger Employee

Unveil the tale of identifying and rectifying training issues at your workplace. Illustrate your proactive initiative and problem-solving skills.

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Common App Essay Mistakes to Avoid

Covering Too Much

Focus on one experience or topic that reveals a strong trait. Avoid attempting to encompass your entire life within the 650-word limit.

Too Much Drama

Steer clear of overly dramatic narratives. Small, impactful moments often hold more significance than grandiose events.

Writing an Academic Resume

Resist the temptation to list all accomplishments. Instead, share a story that reflects personal growth and resilience.

Spinning Yarns

Maintain clarity and relevance. Avoid unnecessary details that detract from the central theme of your essay.

In conclusion, crafting a successful Common App Essay requires a thoughtful approach to prompt selection, a focus on key traits, and a vigilant avoidance of common pitfalls. Dive into the reservoir of your experiences, and let your unique story illuminate the pages of your application.

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