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2017-18 Common Application Essay Prompts: Tips, Samples

Date of publication: 2017-09-01 06:50

There are probably some cases where a well-rounded student writes an amazing Personal Essay and gets in through the strength of that. As a Hail Mary if you’re a senior and can’t improve your application further, this might work. But the results are very variable – some readers may love your essay, others may just think it’s OK. Without a strong application to back it up, your mileage may vary.

Great Common Application Essays

At ten years old, I was 9’66” and weighed 685 pounds. As Dreem (this was his name) spoke his offensive words, he smirked. Almost instinctively, something snapped inside me and, although aggressiveness is not one of my traits, I rushed him and knocked him to the floor. I think he got my point.

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I’m still cringing a bit. Parts of this are very smug (see /r/iamverysmart ), and if you want to punch the writer in the face, I don’t blame you. I want to as well.

Looking back I don’t mind this much because I generally enjoyed my musical training and had a mostly fun time in orchestra (and I had a strong Spike anyway). But this problem can be a lot worse for well-rounded students who are stretched too thin.

When describing my personality, she’s exuberant and fleshes out a range of dimensions: “conscientious, motivated and responsible,” “exhibits the qualities of a leader,” “actively seeks new experiences,” “charismatic,” “balanced individual with a warm personality and sense of humor.” You can see how she's really checking off all the qualities colleges care about.

The earlier you are in high school, the more time you have to prepare and implement the right strategies to build a strong, distinctive application. Here are the most important questions that form the foundation of your application:

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My second teacher Mrs. Swift was another favorite. A middle-aged, veteran English teacher, the best way I would describe her is “fiery.” She was invigorating and passionate, always trying to get a rise out of students and push their thinking, especially in class discussions. Emotionally she was a reliable source of support for students.

To be fair, all of this is grounded in truth. I did have a strict violin teacher who did get pretty upset when I showed lack of improvement. I did appreciate music as a diversion to round out my academic focus. I did practice hard each day, and I did have a pretty gross callus on my pinky.

My biggest caveat for you when reading this guide: thousands of students get into Harvard and Ivy League schools every year. This guide tells a story about one person and presents one archetype of a strong applicant. As you’ll see, I had a huge academic focus, especially in science ( this was my Spike ). I’m also irreverent and have a strong, direct personality.

As you begin to think seriously about college, it will help to understand why you are going to college, the milestones along the way, and what it will be like when you get there.

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