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How Many Common App Essays Are Required?

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What’s Covered:

 

The essay is perhaps one of the most intimidating aspects of your college applications. Unlike your grades, test scores, and activities, they aren’t something you’ve already done — you have to craft work that is entirely new. 

 

Just how many essays are required for the Common Application — the system most schools use to streamline the college process for students? Let’s take a look.

 

Can You Write Multiple Common App Essays?

 

You only need to write one essay for the Common App, although you can change it and submit different versions to different schools. 

 

However, bear in mind that the very purpose of the Common App is to reduce the amount of work you need to do to apply to multiple colleges. Therefore, you should be selective about making changes and only do so when it’s truly necessary. For example, perhaps you want to share an anecdote that’s more aligned to X school’s values than Y’s. Or, perhaps something has changed since you submitted your last version.

 

How Many College Essays Will You Write?

 

While you only need to write one Common App essay, most colleges require one to two shorter supplements, too. That means that if you apply to ten schools, you should expect to write 11-31 essays in addition to the main Common App essay.

 

Some schools don’t actually require supplements. Examples include:

 

  • Colby College
  • Northeastern University
  • Michigan State University
  • Middlebury College
  • Oberlin College
  • Seton Hall University
  • Spelman College
  • University of Connecticut
  • Wesleyan University

 

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How to Reduce the Amount of Writing You’ll Need to Do

 

There are some essays you shouldn’t recycle, such as the “Why this college?” themed supplement. This is highly school-specific.

 

However, you can reuse or rework essays for multiple schools with similar prompts that are not specific to the particular school. 

 

For example, Yale and UPenn have two prompts centering on community:

 

Yale

Reflect on a community to which you feel connected. Why is it meaningful to you?  You may define community however you like.

 

UPenn

At Penn, learning and growth happen outside of the classrooms, too. How will you explore the community at Penn? Consider how this community will help shape your perspective and identity, and how your identity and perspective will help shape this community.

 

While you obviously can’t reuse the same essay, with some alterations, you could repurpose some content for both essays.

 

Also, remember that you can shorten essays to accommodate different word counts. It’s usually far easier to write the longer version first and then shorter it as needed.

 

Common App Essay Resources

 

Looking for help writing your Common App essays and supplements? Try our free Peer Essay review or brand-new expert essay review services. It’s important to get feedback on your essays to ensure they’re the strongest they can be.

 

Plus, check out these resources:

 


Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.