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Goals of Common App Essay

Unique memorable narrative


Demonstrate the applicant is an insightful individual who’s ready to be in a college
environment
How does a student learn from an experience and apply to their lives

5 rules on topic choice

TYPES TO AVOID:
Essays about music – everybody writes essays about that
Essays about competitions – they’re boring and illustrate a fundamental lack of
depth, no way to write without being self-centered. Colleges aren’t looking for
selfish or tiger kids – they’re looking for genuinely good people who want to do
good things
Essays about charities – like telling someone you’re a good person which is no good,
kind of reiterating extracurricular section, can read as really gross (using charity as
device to make themselves seen as admirable), don’t hold up your charity as the
reason you should be admitted to college because then you’re implicitly comparing
yourself to everyone like that (yikes) – illustrates lack of perspective into how
people struggle
Essays about very broad topics – too ambitious for 650 words (infeasible)

Good thing to write about:


-closest relationships in their lives
-can talk about yourself directly because you’re talking about yourself in the
context of a relationship
-can write about some unusual aspect of the relationship
-an experience that is life-changing

Tricks:
Proper nouns
Habits
Details super specific so the essay feels specific

Insight vs. takeaway


Insight: higher-order analysis
Takeaway: change to how you act/conduct yourself