The CollegeVine Blog

Essay Breakdown: Common Application

  • How to Write the Common Application Essays 2017-2018

    With the 2017-2018 application cycle soon to be underway, the essay team here at CollegeVine has decided to share some of our best tips and strategies on how to write the all-important Common App essays. This year, The Common Application has announced various revisions and additions to its essay prompts. In total, three of the original five prompts have been revised, and two entirely new prompts have been added. In this blog post, we’ll provide advice on how to break down these prompts, organize your thoughts, and craft a strong, meaningful response that will make admissions committees take notice.

  • How to Write the 2016 Common Application Prompt #4: Problem Solving

    As of August 1, the Common App published its five personal essay prompts. Since then, we’ve been hard at work here at CollegeVine to come up with how-to guides to approach each of these essay prompts individually. In this post, we’ll focus on giving you a seriously in-depth analysis of the fourth prompt. (But if you really want to take a holistic approach to writing your personal statement and feel like doing a little reading, it’s not a bad idea to read our posts on Prompt #1, Prompt #2, Prompt #3, and Prompt #5 as well).

    For now, let’s focus on Prompt #4.

  • How to Write the Common Application 2016 Prompt #2: Failure and Success

    If you’re reading this, it means you have decided that you’re ready to begin tackling your personal statement. Congratulations! Now that you’ve officially begun, we can let you in on an insider’s secret—the hardest part is over! Here at CollegeVine, we know that the task of writing your personal statement is one of the more daunting things you’ll have to do during the college application process, and starting is undoubtedly the most overwhelming part. Luckily, you’ve got us here to help.

    In this post, we will try to give you as detailed and extensive a guide as possible to crafting a killer personal statement in response to the Common App’s second prompt, which reads as follows:

  • How to Use Rhetorical Devices in Your College Essay

    Writing the personal statement is one of the most important, yet difficult aspects of the college application process. The elusive perfect personal statement is deeply moving, expertly written, rich with details of accomplishments or inspiring life stories, and fits neatly into a 650-word limit. These constraints can leave many struggling to fit what they want to say in so few words. But what many fail to realize when writing the personal statement is that admissions officers are evaluating more than just the story you have to tell. They’re also examining your writing style and ability to convey the abstract qualities that make you the perfect candidate in an eloquent, clear way. Therefore, you should be focused on not only what you’re saying, but also how you’re saying it.

  • How to Write the Common Application Essays 2016-2017

    With the Common Application for the 2016-2017 live as of August, CollegeVine’s essay team is sharing the following tips on how to write the all-important Common App essays for the upcoming application cycle.

    Before discussing the specific prompts for the Common Application, it’s important to note that there are some general principles for approaching the Common App essay. First and foremost, the essay is about telling colleges why you are unique and/or what matters to you. It is absolutely critical that you nail the essay because the majority of your schools will see this essay.

    You’ll want to paint a portrait of yourself that is relatively accessible and has widespread appeal to many colleges (for example, if you are only applying to engineering programs at some of your schools, don’t focus your Common App on STEM at the expense of your other applications. Save that for your supplemental essays).

    You have several avenues through which you can tell colleges what matters to you, including but not limited to highlighting a central theme of your application that is tied to one or several of your extracurricular activities, focusing on a specific personality trait or strength, or highlighting a particular challenge that you had to overcome.

    That being said, there are distinct topics and strategies that each prompt lends itself to especially well.

  • How to Tackle the 2014-2015 Common App Essays

    Admissions Hero gives you tips on how to tackle the 2014-15 Common App Essays

  • How to tackle the Common App Essays for 2013-14

    Note: this blog post has been updated for the 2015-2016 application cycle. To view the most recent version, click here. The Common Application is used by over 500 universities in the United States and one of the most important parts of the Common App is the essay, a 650 word piece that is your primary writing […]