The common application in use by hundreds of universities across America for the bachelor’s degree admissions process requires one essay. Applicants must submit one essay of up to 650 words from the following five options:
- Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
- Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
- Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
- Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
Which Essay Should You Choose?
Choosing an essay topic from this list might at first seem confusing. We recommend you start with a brainstorming session to identify and write down all the different ideas you can possibly come up with for each topic. Quality of ideas is not important at this point, but quantity is. Try to come up with as many ideas as possible so that you feel confident you have exhausted all the possibilities. With this list of separate topics for each essay choice, start putting in some bullet points for each story topic to give your ideas some shape. These bullets are short and in a few words each, they help outline the story from start to finish. Put these bullets in order according to the story itself so you can see what is the arc or path the story evolves on. This part requires a little thought, but again is still more like brainstorming than writing. Once you have added bullets to show the story flow of each item on your list, compare the different stories to find the strongest one. Make a decision about which one you have the most to talk about, which one you are most passionate about, and consider which might be most important to help emphasize your strengths or minimize your weaknesses. Then and only then are you ready to start writing. Good luck with your common application essays!