The Essay

Your college application essay is your opportunity to show the college who you are – your unique qualities, attributes and personality – beyond the quantitative numbers of your test scores and GPA.  So, take advantage and show the college who you are at your best!


  • For each application, find out if there is a particular essay topic

  • The Common Application includes several prompts from which you can choose, including a topic of your choice

  • Whatever you choose to write about, try set yourself apart

  • Explore how you or your perspective on the issue has changed or how you have grown in your understanding of the topic


  • Follow the application's recommended word count

  • The Common Application currently has a 250 word minimun and 650 word maximum

  • Don't be too obsessive about word count – quality trumps quantity

Essay Tips

  • Keep it focused: write about one topic or make one particular point

  • Be concise: don't use 10 words when three will do

  • Spell check

  • Proofread: spell check doesn't catch everything!

  • Review grammar and punctuation

  • Ask a teacher, parent or other trusted person to proofread

  • The same essay can often be used for more than one application – just make sure that if you refer to a college, it's the right one