Language

College Application Essay

College Application Essay *

Practical Considerations

Double space

Check for spelling errors
Leave space for margins
Keep the essay to a moderate length (max 650 words)
Full name and social security number on the top of each page

The Topic

Keep simple; choose one point, idea or situation

Consider how the topic reflects on you. Do you sound apologetic, unhappy, domineering, positive, etc.
Sources for ideas: best qualities, an impact, an unexpected gift, an accomplishment or contribution, a moral delimma, everyday experiences
Consider your audience
What does your choice of topic say about you?
Watch what you leave unsaid in an essay

The Writing

Answer the question asked

Use standard written English, avoid jargon, & unfamiliar expressions
Take your time to write and revise (2-3 drafts)
Ask for outside judgement of your work

with permission, Ann Fleming Brown, Director of Admissions, Union College, Schenectady, New York

* NEW essay prompts:

2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts

1. 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. [No change]

2. 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? [Revised]

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

6. 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? [New]

7. 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. [New]

The Common App will still be a stickler for essay lengths. The word limit on the essay will remain at 650.The Web-only application will not accept essays with fewer than 250 words.