How to Write Your Common App Essay in 7 Steps

It may not be what you want to hear, but it’s true. The only way to make your essay great is by taking a deep dive into yourself. Admissions officers want to know how you work. Particularly, what motivates you and what you’ve learned along the way in life so far.

The Common App essay helps admissions officers get to know you and your worldview.

Taking a deep dive into yourself is easier said than done. The good news is, you don’t have to take the dive alone and without support.

Follow these 7 steps to complete your essay, and the deep dive will happen along the way:

1. Compare your 7 Common App prompt options. Which prompt strikes you as most like you? I wrote a blog on the strengths and pitfalls of the essay topics to help you make a choice.

2. Assess your strengths. You can use a free survey (you have to register your email) like the VIA survey.  After learning about your strengths, answer for yourself: What’s an example of a scenario when you have used these strengths? What have you learned from using these strengths?

3. Jot down essay ideas and stories related to the following areas-- Personal Growth, Passions, and Goal-related.

4. Outline your essay.

5. Get feedback on your outline.

6. Regroup or revise as necessary.

7. Write your essay after getting feedback, and repeat steps 5 and 6 several times until your essay is complete.