common-application-essayThe Common Application (also known as the Common App) can make the application process easier. Instead of writing many essays, you can register on the website of this not-for-profit organization and submit the same admission essay to any of 456 member colleges in the United States and other countries.
Now you can apply wisely using only a few clicks of a mouse. However, it makes the quality of common application essays extremely important.

Take a closer look at top secrets of perfect writing and learn how to make application essays truly brilliant.

Common application essay: 6 options

You can choose between these six topics for your common application essay:

  1. Evaluate an important experience, challenge, or ethical dilemma you faced; discuss how it affected you as a person.
  2. Discuss a problem of personal, local, national or global importance and its significance to you personally.
  3. Write about a person who has influenced you greatly; discuss that influence.
  4. Choose a fictional character, a historical figure or an artwork (painting, music, literature, etc.) that has influenced you; discuss that influence on you.
  5. Describe an encounter that illustrates the importance of diversity in a community from your point of view.
  6. Your choice.

Common application essay format

Note that each of the above options focus on you as a person. Surely, your writing skills are important for writing a winning college application essay. However, proper presentation of your personal qualities is even more important. No matter which category you choose, make certain to relate it to your personal experience and development.
For example, if you choose the second topic and decide to write about global warming or AIDS orphans in Africa, make sure to make it your personal reflection and explain why this issue is important to you. Tick the box you have chosen in the application form to avoid confusion of application officers. Kindly note that one variant of your essay will be sent to all colleges. No specific versions for different colleges or universities are permitted. Actually, this is what is meant by a “common” application essay.

Common application essay: word count

Pay attention to the requested word count of a common application essay, since for 2011-12 the limit was set to 250-500 words. It does not mean that the assignment has become easier to write. It means that college commissions prefer quality over quantity. Try to make your admission essay clear and succinct. Try to express more ideas using fewer words. Even though most college admissions officers promise to read all of your essay up to its 501st word, you should not put your papers at risk. Members of most commissions agree that nearly all common application essays exceeding 700 words would be better if made shorter. So, cut unimportant words whenever it is possible.

Common application essay: avoid redundancies

Check this list of redundant pairs of words and see how you can easily make your common application essays shorter and clearer:

Redundant Right
end result result
final outcome outcome
large in size large
round in shape round
at an early time early
of a bright color bright
basic fundamentals fundamentals


Common application essay: know your enemies

Here are some more words to be cut out from your common application essays:

  • Basically;
  • really;
  • specific;
  • particular;
  • type of;
  • sort of;
  • generally.

You may delete these words from your common application essays and see that sentence structure will be improved, and the meaning will not change.
You are welcome to use this quick guide when working on your common application essay to make your dreams come true. Good luck with your application!