Common App Essay Ideas, Tips, And Tricks

What is the Common App?

The Common App is a college admissions application that allows students to apply to nearly 900 colleges and universities. The Common App make the college application process with one single application that can be completed online.

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It is free to create an account and start working on your Common App. When you are ready to submit your application, you may be required to pay a fee. However, about 50% of member schools don’t have a fee for applying.

The application is available for students to fill out and submit beginning on August 1st each year. The Common App has a deadline of November 1st for Early Action/Early Decision applications and January 1st for Regular Decision applications.

In this blog post we will shed the light on common app prompts, different essay topics, as well as how to make your common app essay stand out.

What are the Common App college essays?

The Common App essay is a personal essay written by college applicants. It is also often referred to as the main essay. The essay is an opportunity for applicants to share their stories and tell colleges about themselves outside of their grades and test scores.

The common app essay should be 250-650 words long. A good essay will capture the attention of the admissions committee and give them a reason to want to learn more about you.

The Common App essays are not meant to be academic essays. They are personal statements that should reflect your personality, experiences, and values.

SAT scores, GPA, and class rank are important factors in the college admissions process, but your common app essay can be the factor that sets you apart from others and increase your chance of getting admitted to your dream schools.

What is the Common App essay prompts?

The Common App has released its essay prompts for the 2022-2023 admissions cycle. You can see these seven prompts below:

Common app essay prompts and examples.

Prompt #1 Ideas

“Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

You can choose to write about your:

– Background/Identity

– Racial or ethnic identity

– Family or cultural background

– A talent, ability, or skill that you have developed

– A special interest or hobby

– A life experience that has influenced your development

Here are some examples of how you could approach this prompt:

-If you choose to write about your background/identity, you could discuss how your family or cultural background has shaped who you are today.

-If you choose to write about a talent or skill that you have developed, you could discuss how you have honed this talent or skill through practice and dedication.

-If you choose to write about a life experience that has influenced your development, you could discuss how your experience has changed your perception or worldview.

The key with this prompt is to choose a topic that is meaningful to you, and that will allow you to share more about who you are as a person. Avoid topics that are overly personal, or that could be seen as controversial.

Example

When I was younger, I was always told that I was different. My family is originally from the Philippines, and I was born and raised in the United States. This made me stand out from most of my classmates, who were all American-born. Even though I was different, I never really saw it as a bad thing. I loved my culture and my heritage, and I was proud to be Filipino. One of the things that made me stand out the most, however, was my name. Most people in the United States have very common names like John or Sarah. But my name is not common at all. It’s actually a very Filipino name. This always made me feel unique and special.

Now that I am older, I realize how fortunate I am to have such a rich cultural background. It has shaped who I am as a person and has made me into the individual that I am today. I am proud of my name, and I am proud of my heritage. And I believe that this is one of the things that makes me unique and special.

My identity gives me a strong motivation to pursue a career in international relations or cultural studies. I want to learn more about the world, and I want to help other people understand different cultures. I believe that this is something that I can share with others. I believe that my background and identity are both very important parts of who I am. And I am grateful that I got to grow up in two cultures because it has given me a unique perspective on the world.

Prompt #2 Ideas

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?”

You can choose to write about any challenge, setback, or failure that you have faced as a young person. Some examples of topics you could discuss include:

-Facing a difficult situation or challenge

-Overcoming an obstacle

-Dealing with a failure or setback

-Learning from a mistake

When discussing a challenge, setback, or failure, it’s important to discuss how you handled the situation and what you learned from it. Discussing a time when you were challenged by something can show admissions committees that you are resilient and capable of overcoming obstacles. Discussing a time when you made a mistake can show that you are willing to learn from your mistakes and that you have the ability to grow and improve.

Example

When I was younger, I was always the shy kid who never wanted to be in the spotlight. I would always hide behind my mom or dad whenever there was a camera around. So when my parents decided to sign me up for acting classes, I was hesitant at first. However, I soon found out that it was one of the best decisions they ever made.

Over the years, I’ve had to face a lot of challenges and setbacks in my acting career. For example, when I was a high school student, I auditioned for a play and didn’t get cast. At first, I was really upset and felt like I had let myself down. But after some time passed, I realized that it wasn’t the end of the world and that there were other opportunities waiting for me. I believe this helped me to develop a strong work ethic and determination. Whenever I face a challenge now, I always try to see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. And because of this, I’ve been able to achieve many of my goals.

So far, these experiences have taught me two valuable lessons: first, that failure is not the end of the world; and second, that it’s important to keep trying no matter what. These lessons have helped me become a stronger person both mentally and emotionally, and I know they will continue to serve me well in the future. Everyone makes mistakes and faces challenges; however, it is how we deal with these setbacks that define us as individuals. I am grateful for all of the challenges I have faced thus far in my life because they have made me who I am today. And I know that they will continue to help me grow and succeed in the future.

Prompt #3 Ideas

“Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?”

You can choose to write about any belief or idea that you have questioned or challenged. Some examples of topics you could discuss include:

-A religious belief or practice

-A political ideology

-A cultural norm or expectation

When approaching this prompt, it’s important to remember that the admissions officers are looking for evidence of your critical thinking and reflection skills. They want to see that you’re capable of questioning your own beliefs and ideas, as well as those of others.

Your essay should discuss the particular event or experience that led you to question your belief or idea. It should also describe how you thought about and responded to the challenge. Did you eventually change your mind? Or did you reaffirm your original belief?

Whatever topic you choose, make sure to discuss how the experience affected you and what you learned from it. Admissions officers are looking for applicants who are able to grow and learn from their experiences.

Example

When I was a child, I was always taught to believe in myself and to never back down from a challenge. This belief was instilled in me at a young age, and it has stayed with me throughout my life. However, there was one instance where I questioned this belief.

I was in the eighth grade, and I was part of the debate team. We were preparing for a competition, and I was assigned to argue in favor of the motion that the United States should adopt a policy of isolationism. This was a topic that I had strong feelings about, so I was excited to debate it. However, as I prepared for the debate, I started to have doubts about my position. I realized that there were valid arguments on both sides of the issue and that it wasn’t as clear-cut as I thought it was. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to argue in favor of something that I didn’t believe in.

I ended up deciding not to argue in favor of isolationism and instead argued against the motion. This turned out to be the right decision, as we ended up winning the debate. However, it was a difficult decision to make, and it made me question my beliefs about myself.

This experience taught me two things. First, it showed me that it is okay to question your beliefs and to explore different viewpoints. Second, it showed me that I am capable of standing up for what I believe in, even if it is against popular opinion. These lessons have stayed with me throughout my life, and they have helped me become a more thoughtful and open-minded person.

Prompt #4 Ideas

“Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?”

You can choose to write about any person, place, thing, or experience that has brought you joy. Think about an activity you spend your free time on. Some examples of topics you could discuss include:

-A close friend or family member

-A teacher or mentor

-A volunteering experience

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-An extracurricular activity

When approaching this prompt, it’s important to remember that the admissions officers are looking for evidence of your positive attitude and resilience. They want to see that you’re able to find joy in unexpected places and that you have the ability to bounce back from difficult experiences.

Your essay should describe how this experience affected you and what you learned from it. Did it change your perspective on life? Did it motivate you to pursue a certain goal?

Example

Gratitude is a powerful emotion. It can motivate us to do great things, and it can also make us happy at the moment. In my life, I have been lucky enough to experience both of these things, thanks to the people around me. One of the most memorable moments of my life was when I was at a competition, and I fell down during my performance. My coach came up to me and hugged me, telling me that it was okay and that I could try again. That moment made me feel grateful for his support, and it motivated me to do better next time.

Another time when I was grateful for someone’s support was when my family was going through a tough time. My friend offered to help out by babysitting my younger siblings while my parents were at work. That act of kindness made me very happy, and it motivated me to repay her kindness someday.

In both of these cases, gratitude affected my motivation in a positive way. It made me want to do better in order to show appreciation for the people who had helped me. Gratitude is a feeling that can inspire us to achieve great things, and I believe that it is something that should be shared more often. I realize that a successful society can exist only when people are grateful to each other and show this feeling in their everyday lives. Showing gratitude is one of the easiest ways to make someone else feel good, and it doesn’t cost anything. However, it can motivate others to do the same for others, and that is how a cycle of positivity and motivation is created.

Prompt #5 Ideas

“Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.”

You can write about any event or accomplishment that has led to your personal growth. Some examples of topics you could discuss include:

-A challenging experience

-Overcoming an obstacle

-Achievement in academics, sports, or another extracurricular activity

-An important relationship

When writing about this prompt, it’s important to focus on how this event has changed your outlook on life. What did you learn from it? How did it make you a better person? Writing a compelling essay about personal growth can be challenging, but it’s important to remember that the admissions officers are looking for evidence of your ability to reflect on your experiences and learn from them.

Your essay should describe the event and its impact on your personal growth. It should also explain how this new understanding has affected your relationships with others. Have you become more patient? More understanding? More tolerant? The essay writing process will become much easier if you follow these tips!

Example

I am not a very outgoing person. I tend to keep to myself, and I don’t like being in large groups of people. However, there was one event that changed my perspective on this and led to a period of personal growth. The event was a school trip to an orphanage. I was hesitant to go at first, but my friends convinced me to come along. When I got there, I saw that the children were very happy, despite their circumstances. They were laughing and playing together, and they didn’t seem to have any cares in the world. This made me realize that I had been wrong about large groups of people. I saw that it was possible to be around others and still enjoy myself.

I also understood that despite children in orphanages not having much, they were still able to be happy. This made me realize that I was lucky to have the things that I did. I had always taken my family and friends for granted, but after this experience, I was more grateful for them. I also started volunteering at the orphanage on a regular basis.

This experience changed my outlook on life and led to personal growth. I became more outgoing and less shy. I was also more tolerant of others because I saw that everyone has their own way of looking at the world. This experience has led to a period of personal growth, and I am now more confident in myself. I am also more open to meeting new people and experiencing new things. I believe that personal growth is possible only when you challenge yourself. The more challenges we take, the higher adaptability we have. Sometimes, it might be scary to take on a new challenge. But I think that it is always worth it in the end because we always come out of it as a better person.

Prompt #6 Ideas

“Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that 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?”

You can write about any topic that you find interesting or engaging. Some examples of topics you could discuss include:

-A hobby or interest

-What interests you in an academic sense

-A cultural phenomenon

-A current event

It’s important to focus on why the topic is so interesting to you. What is it about the topic that captivates you? Do you enjoy learning about it? Are you fascinated by it?

Your essay should explain what it is about the topic that interests you and why. It should also discuss how you go about learning more about the topic. Do you read books on it? Talk to experts? Research it online?

Example

I have always been interested in history. I love learning about different cultures and how they have interacted with each other over time. I find it fascinating to learn about the different ways that people have lived their lives. I also enjoy learning about the different political and economic systems that have existed throughout history. I often find myself losing track of time when I am reading about history. I can spend hours reading about a particular period or culture and not even realize it. I also enjoy discussing history with others. I love hearing different interpretations of events and learning new perspectives on familiar topics.

I turn to books, articles, and documentaries when I want to learn more about history. I also like to talk to people who are knowledgeable about the subject. I find that hearing different perspectives helps me to understand the topic better. History is a complex subject, and there is always more to learn. The most interesting historical period for me is WWII. I am fascinated by the different events that led up to the war and the way that it changed the world. I have read many books on the subject, and I never tire of learning more about it. I am also interested in other wars throughout history, but WWII is the one that has always captivated me the most.

I believe that history is important because it helps us to understand the present. It is also interesting in its own right and can be a lot of fun to learn about. I would encourage anyone who is interested in history to explore it further. There are so many fascinating stories and events to discover. You never know what you might find. By learning from history, we are able to prevent making the same mistakes in the future. It is also a great way to gain a better understanding of the world and how it works.

Prompt #7 Ideas

“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.”

This prompt provides you with the highest degree of freedom and flexibility. You can write about any topic that you want, on any subject. You could write about:

-An experience or event that had a significant impact on you

-A person who has been influential in your life

-A place that is special to you

-A book, movie, or piece of art that you enjoy

-A topic that you are passionate about

-Anything else that you can think of?

Be creative and have fun with this prompt. This is your opportunity to write about anything that you want, so make the most of it. Be sure to focus on why the topic is important or special to you and how it has affected your life.

Common app essay tips

Here are some tips and tricks to help you write a great Common app essay:

-Select a Common App essay topic that interests you: As we mentioned above, you have the freedom to choose any topic that you want for your essay. This means that you can write about anything that interests you. If you are stuck for ideas, try thinking about an experience or event that has had a significant impact on you, a person who has been influential in your life, or a place that is special to you.

-Starting early: Don’t wait until the last minute to start writing your essay. The more time you have, the better it will be. Your Common App personal statement first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should give you a good idea of what you want to say.

-Brainstorm: Take some time to think about the prompt and what you want to write about. Make a list of ideas and choose the one that you think is the most interesting.

-Do your research: If you’re writing about something that you’re not familiar with, be sure to do some research. This will help you to understand the topic better and make your essay more well-rounded.

-Be creative: The Common app essay is your opportunity to show off your personality and be creative. Be sure to use this to your advantage.

-Edit and proofread: While this is not an English class, proper grammar, spelling, and writing skills are still important. Make sure to proofread your essay before you submit it.

Most students don’t take the writing process seriously, but it’s important to remember that your essay is an important part of your application. Be sure to give yourself enough time to write a great essay. It may take you a few drafts to get it right, but it will be worth it in the end.

What makes a strong Common App essay?

You should incorporate several elements while writing your Common App essay. First of all, make sure you use an attention-grabbing essay hook. This is your opportunity to make a good first impression, so don’t take it lightly. Secondly, try using sensory details, such as sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures, to create a vivid picture for the reader. This will help them to feel like they are experiencing the story along with you. Finally, be sure to conclude your essay in a strong way. Restate your thesis and leave the college admissions officer with a lasting impression.

A strong Common App essay will be well-written, creative, and engaging. It will focus on a particular subject and describe your own journey or experience. Remember that an admissions officer has seen thousands of college essays. Hence try to tell your personal story in an interesting and unique way.

One of the major goals of the admissions committee is to pick motivated students who are ready to learn and contribute to their school. So, don’t be afraid to be yourself and write about what you are passionate about. The admissions committee will appreciate your honesty and sincerity.

Supplemental essays

Most selective colleges and universities may require you to submit more than one supplemental essay along with your Common App essay. These are usually specific to that college and can be about anything from why you want to attend that school to what experiences you have had that have prepared you for college.

When writing your supplemental essays, be sure to answer the prompt directly and stay on topic. It is not a job interview, so don’t try to sell yourself to the admissions committee. Instead, focus on being honest and sharing your unique perspective. The admissions committee is looking for insight into who you are and how you will contribute to their school.

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