This year’s prompts have been released, so all over the world, college seniors are “reflecting on a time when they challenged a belief or idea,” or “discussing an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.”
Common App essays are important: in the black-and-white world of GPAs and SATs, an essay can really capture a student’s voice and allow personality and passions to shine through. Each student is more than the sum of their scores, and the essay allows them to showcase their individuality.
When working on the Common App essay, it can be very common to hit writer’s block. We know how that feels— agonizing! But these 10 steps can help you tackle a piece at a time so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
- Start early so there’s plenty of time to revise.
- Choose a prompt or a couple of prompts that interest you and start jotting down notes.
- As the main ideas begin to take shape, create an outline.
- Use the outline as the starting point for drafting the piece, remembering to format it with a lead, supporting evidence and conclusion.
- Just write! Sometimes it’s much easier to just let the words flow than focus on how they sound or if they’re spelled right. You’ll have ample time to revise.
- Humanize it. Admissions committees read thousands of essays. Make sure you are telling a compelling story and letting “you” shine through.
- Proof your work. Check everything from proper use of capitals to punctuation.
- Check your structure. Make sure your paragraph breaks and transitions make sense.
- Check word choice. Thesaurus.com is a great place to find a better word, but make sure your essay doesn’t sound stilted.
- Again and again and again. Hint: reading it out loud can help you find missing words.
And finally, ask for help! At Tutor.com we are word whizzes, if we do say so ourselves! We can help you with literally any one – or all – of these steps. We help students just like you all the time and are adept at helping brainstorm topics that will resonate, creating a succinct outline and structure, and then drawing out those details that make the difference between a ho-hum essay and one that sings.
Many students come to us at the beginning to help provide input on the topic and structure to make the essay easier to write. And, sometimes we come in at the very end to provide that final professional polish. Often students are so close to the subject matter that it can be hard to look at it objectively. And sometimes you’ve read it so many times that it looks perfect to you even if its not. (See what we did there?)
Because while you might be tired of reading your essay, Tutor.com never will be!