Common Application Essays · Tufts Admissions

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2016-17 Common Application Essay Prompts: A Guide


Students explore the open-ended topics for the 2013-14 Common Application essays through writing and discussion. Then, they will identify and examine New York Times pieces that might serve as "mentor texts" for their own application essays. Finally, they will craft their own college admissions essay in response to one of the new prompts, using advice from Learning Network and The Choice Blog.


Writing the Common Application Essay and What to Avoid

What are the 2015-16 Common Application Essay Prompts?

Common Application Essay One of Many Essays
While the Common Application is the standard application form for nearly 500 colleges, this single essay will not be the only essay most students write. Some colleges are not a member of the Common Application and many members also assign additional essay topics. While this essay won’t be the only college admissions essay most students write, it is most often the most important topic. Take time to really think through your plan and be prepared to try more than one topic before you settle on the one that fits you best. Remember that writing personal essays can be tough, so it is okay if you struggle. Hang in there and keep plugging along until you write an essay you can be proud of.


Common application essay requirements include that you keep the paper’s focus as personal and narrow. You have a limited time to say what you need to say, and your word count is probably limited. Therefore, you don’t want to stray from the central topic of your paper. In this type of essay, you need to be highly descriptive, and the wording you use must bring to life the ideas and imagery you are trying to present. A good way to ensure you have a well-written paper is to show, don’t tell what happened. Describe a situation, which you were with, the feelings you had, smells, sights, and every aspect you can describe. It will help the reader empathize with you as the writer. Be sure you write while using your own voice and make sure you definitely proofread and edit your final application paper.Parents and students often ask us for our most valuable Common Application essay tips, so our savvy team of advisors complied a list of simple, effective tricks to use as guidelines while you navigate the tricky waters of college essay writing. Try to use them for good and not for evil.