Every year, millions of high school seniors like you use the Common Application to apply to multiple colleges simultaneously. It’s a super convenient online system that saves you from completing countless separate applications. And guess what? Within that application is a special section called the Common App personal statement.
The personal statement is your chance to let colleges get to know the real you. It’s an opportunity to show them what makes you unique and what matters to you.
So, get ready to tell your story, share your passions, and reveal the many wonderful facets of your personality. This is your chance to shine, stand out from the crowd, and leave a lasting impression on admissions officers. Don’t worry; we’re here to guide you every step of the way to write an app personal essay.
What is the Common Application?
Every year, millions of high school seniors like you use the Common Application to apply to multiple colleges simultaneously.
This application system is super convenient and saves you from completing countless separate applications since over 900 colleges and universities are connected to the system! This includes Ivy League universities! And guess what? Within that application is a special section called the Common App personal statement.
What is the Common App personal statement?
The personal statement is an essay you submit as part of your college application. For example, with the Common App, you have multiple prompts to choose from. This essay serves as a way for the schools you’re applying to understand who you are and the value you can bring as a potential student.
The Common App essay is your chance to let colleges get to know the real you. It’s an opportunity to show the evaluators what makes you unique and what matters to you. So, get ready to tell your story, share your passions, and reveal the many wonderful facets of your personality. This is your chance to shine, stand out from the crowd, and leave a lasting impression on admissions officers.
Overview of the Common App prompts
You can discuss almost anything you want if your chosen topic addresses your prompt. There are no strict rules regarding the style or format of your essay; you can decide how to tell your story best.
Overall, this essay should be about you and what you could contribute to any school! Because admissions reps at several universities will read this essay, avoiding mentioning specific college names or programs.
Here are the seven Common App prompts for the 2023-2024 cycle:
|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.
|If a part of your background, identity, interest, or talent is incredibly important to you and you feel it completes your application, then this common app prompt is perfect for you. Share your story and explain why it holds such significance in your life.
|The lessons we take from obstacles 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?
|Obstacles and setbacks are part of life’s journey, and this prompt invites you to reflect on a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. Explore how it affected you and delve into the valuable lessons you learned from that experience.
|Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
|Sometimes, we come across situations that make us question or challenge our beliefs or ideas. Reflect on a time when this happened to you. What sparked your thinking? Share the outcome of your reflection and how it shaped your perspective.
|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?
|There are times when someone’s actions bring unexpected happiness or gratitude into our lives. Describe an instance when someone did something that made you feel thankful or joyful in a surprising way. Explain how this gratitude impacted you and what it motivated you to do.
|Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
|Think about an accomplishment, event, or realization that marked a period of personal growth and led to a new understanding of yourself or others. Share how this experience transformed you and deepened your self-awareness or empathy.
|Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?
|Some topics, ideas, or concepts have the power to captivate us completely, making us lose track of time. Describe a subject that engrosses you and explain why it has such a hold on your interest. Additionally, discuss the sources or individuals you turn to when you want to learn more about it.
|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.
|If none of the above prompts resonates with you, or you have an essay you’ve already written that you feel strongly about, this open-ended prompt allows you to share an essay on any topic you choose. It could be a response to a different prompt, an existing piece, or a unique essay of your own design.|
Remember to approach your common app personal statement with authenticity and sincerity. Choose the prompt that speaks to you the most and allows you to convey your unique experiences and perspectives.
Word limit for the personal statement
Regarding the word limits for the Common App main statement, you get a maximum of 650 words.
However, it’s important to note that you don’t have to use every word available. Stretching your writing to meet the maximum limit often leads to weaker content.
You may already be familiar with this from experience. For example, remember when a teacher asked you to write a 1,500-word essay, and you found yourself at around 1,300 words? Adding unnecessary fluff to reach the word count probably didn’t improve the quality of your writing. That being said, it’s best to use every word available to you in your personal statement.
Additionally, it’s essential to approach your application essay thoughtfully and focus on conveying your ideas effectively rather than simply meeting the word count.
Do’s and don’ts for writing the personal statement
Do’s for writing the personal statement
Share your unique experiences
Demonstrate your dedication by personalizing your Common App personal statement. Research the school thoroughly and include a paragraph towards the end of your personal statement highlighting specific factors that attracted you to that particular institution. Avoid vague statements without supporting evidence. Instead, articulate why the school admission aligns with your interests and goals.
Next, strive to make a positive impression on the admissions committees by letting them get to know you and showcasing your likability. Avoid using a formal tone simply because you believe lawyers write that way. Instead, aim for a conversational tone that allows your personal statement to flow naturally.
Finally, be mindful of your word choice and sentence structure. Use straightforward and precise language to convey your ideas effectively. Avoid unnecessary repetition or fluff language. Remember, the word limit is 650 words.
Don’ts for writing the personal statement
- Don’t procrastinate. Start early and give yourself enough time.
- Don’t plagiarize content.
- Don’t overshare or include irrelevant information.
- Don’t focus solely on academic achievements. Showcase your personality and growth.
- Don’t use clichés or generic language; be authentic and specific.
- Don’t neglect proofreading and editing; review for grammar and spelling errors.
- Don’t disregard word limits; adhere to provided guidelines.
- Don’t rely solely on spell checkers or grammar tools. Manually review and edit too.
Tips for writing a standout personal statement
All in all, your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your true self. Be genuine and let your unique personality shine through. Craft your personal statement as a compelling narrative that captures the reader’s attention. Share meaningful experiences, challenges you’ve overcome, or moments that have shaped you.
Also, discuss your interests, hobbies, or areas of expertise that ignite your enthusiasm. Demonstrating a genuine passion for a subject or activity can make your personal statement memorable and show your potential to contribute to the college community. Writing a standout personal statement requires multiple rounds of revision and editing. Lastly, take the time to review your statement for clarity, coherence, and grammar before.
The big picture
Crafting your Common App personal statement for admission is an exciting opportunity to express your unique story and make a lasting impression on the college admission committee.
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