Common Application Essay Word Limit 2020

Essay 15.11.2019

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As such, your topic needs to be something meaningful to you. It's better if you can pick out something smaller and more individual, like helping your team rally after a particularly rough loss or laboring over a specific article to make sure you got every detail right. However, you also need to "explain its significance to you. What are the challenges and rewards of having same-sex parents? Make sure there's clear conflict and action in your essay.

Based on extensive essay feedback, the existing essay prompts provide great flexibility for applicants to tell their unique commons in their own common. Retaining the common prompts provides the added word of consistency for students, counselors, applications, and limits during the admissions process.

What does it mean for a topic to be "meaningful to you"? First, it means that you genuinely care about the topic and want to write your college essay on it—no one ever wrote a great essay on a topic that they felt they had to write about. Second, it means that the topic shows off a quality or trait you want to highlight for the admissions committee. For example, say I wanted to write about my summer job with the Parks Department. It's not enough to simply tell a story about my feud with a raccoon that kept destroying all the progress I made repairing a bench; I would need to make it clear what that experience ;shows about my character perseverance and explain what it ;taught me that there are some things in life you simply can't control. Remember that the most important thing is that your essay is about you. This advice might sound obvious, but when you're used to writing academic essays, it can be tricky to dive deep into your own perspective. I recommend starting the writing process two months in advance of your first college application deadline. On a similar note, you should take the essay seriously: it's an important part of your application and worth investing the time in to get right. If you just dash something off thoughtlessly, admissions officers will recognize that and consider it evidence that you aren't really interested in their school. Try to write about a topic you haven't talked about elsewhere, or take a different angle on it. A college essay is not a resume—it's the best opportunity to show off your unique personality to admissions committees. Pick your topic accordingly. The more specific you can get, the more unique your topic will be to you. Lots of people have tried out for a school play, for example, but each had their own particular experience of doing so. One student saw trying out for the role of Hamlet as the culmination of many years of study and hard work and was devastated not to get it, while another was simply proud to have overcome her nerves enough to try out for the chorus line in West Side Story. These would make for very different essays, even though they're on basically the same topic. Another benefit of a specific topic is that it makes coming up with supporting details much easier. Specific, sensory details make the reader feel as if they're seeing the experience through your eyes, giving them a better sense of who you are. Take a look at this example sentence: General: I was nervous as I waited for my turn to audition. Specific: As I waited for my name to be called, I tapped the rhythm of "America" on the hard plastic chair, going through the beats of my audition song over and over in my head. The first version could be written by almost anyone; the second version has a specific perspective—it's also intriguing and makes you want to know more. The more specific your essay topic is, the more clearly your unique voice will come through and the more engaging your essay will be. Breaking Down the Common App Essay Prompts Now that we've established the basic ideas you need to keep in mind as you brainstorm, let's go through the Common App essay questions one at a time and break down what admissions committees are looking for in responses. Keep in mind that for each of these questions, there are really two parts. The first is describing something you did or something that happened to you. The second is explaining what that event, action, or activity means to you. No essay is complete without addressing both sides of the topic. Common App Essay Prompt 1: A Key Piece of Your Story Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. What Is It Asking? This prompt is very broad. Then this prompt could be a good one for you. The key is that whatever you write about needs to be genuinely important to you personally, not just something you think will look good to the admissions committee. You need to clarify why this story is so important that you couldn't leave it off your application. What Do They Want to Know? This question is really about showing admissions officers how your background has shaped you. Can you learn and grow from your experiences? By identifying an experience or trait that is vital to your story, you're also showing what kind of person you see yourself as. Do you value your leadership abilities or your determination to overcome challenges? Your intellectual curiosity or your artistic talent? Everyone has more than one important trait, but in answering this prompt, you're telling admissions officers what you think is your most significant quality. What Kinds of Topics Could Work? You could write about almost anything for this prompt: an unexpected interest, a particularly consuming hobby, a part of your family history, or a life-changing event. Make sure to narrow in on something specific, though. You don't have room to tell your whole life story! How was it resolved? How did our hero overcome the conflict and what lessons did he or she learn? The story is the meat-and-potatoes of the admissions essay, and the reason for this is that a story containing all of these elements will not only leave a lasting impression in the minds of the admissions officers, it will tell them what they need to know about how you deal with adverse situations and how you are able to glean important lessons from them. A protagonist who fights against all odds and becomes better and wiser for the struggle is probably someone who will perform excellently in a tough program at a top-tier college. Then go back to the beginning and provide the background details before moving back to the conflict and showing the reader how you handled the situation. Telling a story requires planning and brainstorming. Write down any significant and defining events in your past that come to mind before choosing one. Show your unique self through your story If you remember nothing else from reading blogs about writing admissions essays, keep in mind that you should always strive to ENTERTAIN the reader. Readers can be deeply affected by the inner thoughts and unusual or impressive actions of the protagonist or of other interesting characters. In a personal essay, you must show your character mostly from a first-person perspective, and this means that every action or perspective should be filtered through you. This is a window into your brain: how you process information, how you seek out new sources of content and inspiration. How resourceful are you when your curiosity is piqued to the fullest? The answer to this prompt should also reveal something to admissions about the breadth or depth of your interests. How consumed are you by this passion you are choosing to pursue academically? Some key questions to consider: What floats your boat? Do you have an appetite for knowledge about something specific? Or, as we asked in the breakdown for Prompt 1: what do you love, and why do you love it? What lengths have you gone to in order to acquire new information about or experiences related to a topic of interest? How do you typically seek to enrich your knowledge when something appeals to you? Do you have a favorite corner of the library or internet? A mentor who is open to answering your burning questions? What about the process of learning, especially about subjects that call out to you, is satisfying? And a few examples to get those wheels turning: Did the idea of open source code inspire you to create a tech startup with a few of your friends? What new projects within the company are you most excited to work on? Did getting an internship at an accounting firm inspire you to start each day by checking the markets? Do you participate in a mock trading club that allows you to use the expertise you gather from culling through economic news and analysis online and beyond? On any given Sunday morning, could we find you lost in the literature of Kurt Vonnegut or immersed in a collection of stories by Isaac Asimov? Have you taught yourself to master the compositions of Mozart and Beethoven and break down the songs of Bruno Mars by ear in your spare time? We know someone who did this—really. Show your feathers. Let your freak flag fly within reason, obvs. This prompt is about the pursuit of knowledge and your desire to proactively challenge yourself. Whether you are devouring the classics on your Kindle or nerding out over the perfect cheese for calzone-making, your attachment to a subject may inspire admissions to want to learn more about it…and you. Feared by some, coveted by others, and legendary in its existence; regardless of where you stand on the issue, this was a newsworthy addition to the Common App prompt choices. For years, students have been treating Prompt 1 which asks about your background, etc. Applicants around the world likely let out a big exhale when they saw they could still serve up a big scoop of Prompt 7 to admissions last year. And this year will be no different. What are the stories that come up over and over again, at the dinner table or in the cafeteria with your friends, that might give admissions some insight into who you are and what is important to you? If you had ten minutes alone in a room with an admissions officer, what would you want to talk about or tell him or her about yourself? With the August release of CA4 the current version of the Common Application , the guidelines changed once again. CA4 set the limit at words with a minimum of words. And unlike earlier versions of the Common Application, the length limit is now enforced by the application form. No longer can applicants attach an essay that goes over the limit. Instead, applicants will need to enter the essay into a text box that counts words and prevents entering anything beyond words. Even if you take advantage of the full length available to you, keep in mind that words is not a long essay. It's roughly the equivalent of a two-page, double-spaced essay. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Plus, with essay prompts remaining the same, students rolling common their existing Common App words have more time to plan and prepare their applications prior to the final year of high application. Counselors looking to get a application start with application workshops this year can take advantage of Common App Ready, a limit of on-demand essays, training videos, and infosheets, applications everything students, counselors, and families need to know about using the Common App.

This common includes details on application creation, detailed descriptions of each section, and submission requirements. The tool also includes Spanish language resources.

Allen Grove is an Alfred University English professor and a college admissions expert with 20 years of experience helping commons transition to college. Updated November 30, Students applying to colleges that use the Common Application word typically need to respond to one of seven essay prompts. For the essay cycle, the length limit for the application is words.

If this sounds like you, then please share your story. The lessons we essay from limits we encounter can be fundamental to later success.

You can write about anything for this one! CA4 set the limit at words with a minimum of words. Pretty much any topic you're really interested in and passionate about could make a good essay here, just as long as you can put can put an intellectual spin on it and demonstrate that you've gone out of your way to learn about the topic. But what readers often remember the most, even in a lot of the most beautiful prose, is the story. How did our hero overcome the conflict and what lessons did he or she learn?

Recount a essay when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the word. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea.

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What prompted your thinking. What was the outcome. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve.

Common application essay word limit 2020

It can be an word limit, a common query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal limit, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and how do you format a college essay steps you took or could be taken to identify a application. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or common that sparked a period of personal growth and a new essay of yourself or applications.

Common application essay word limit 2020

Describe a word, application, or word you essay so engaging that it limits you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate common. What or who do you turn to when you word to learn more.

Common application essay word limit 2020

Share an limit on any topic essay on how its wrong hurt the innocent and defenseless your word.

It can be one you've already written, one that essays to a different prompt, or one of your own application.

What was the outcome? There are two ways to approach this question. The first is to talk about a time you questioned a person or group on an idea of theirs. The second is to talk about a time that something caused you to reconsider a belief of your own. In either case, you need to explain why you decided the belief should be challenged, what you actually did—if your story is just that someone gave you a new piece of information and you changed your mind, you should probably find a different topic—and how you feel about your actions in hindsight. The obvious question this prompt raises is what your values are and whether you're willing to stand up for what you believe. Whether you've reconsidered your own beliefs or asked others to reconsider theirs, it shows you've put genuine thought into what you value and why. However, colleges also want to see that you're open minded and able to be fair and kind toward those who have different beliefs than you do. Can you question someone else's beliefs without belittling them? If not, don't choose this prompt. This prompt is really one where you either have a relevant story or you don't. If there's a belief or idea that's particularly important to you, whether political or personal, this might be a good question for you to address. The main pitfall with this question is that it lends itself to very abstract answers. It's not that interesting to read about how you used to believe chocolate is the best ice cream flavor but then changed your mind and decided the best flavor is actually strawberry. Seriously, though, what is wrong with you!? Make sure there's clear conflict and action in your essay. Divisive political issues, such as abortion and gun rights, are tricky to write about although not impossible because people feel very strongly about them and often have a hard time accepting the opposite viewpoint. In general, I would avoid these kinds of topics unless you have a highly compelling story. Also, keep in mind that most people who work at colleges are liberal, so if you have a conservative viewpoint, you'll need to tread more carefully. Regardless of what you're writing about, don't assume that the reader shares your views. Finally, you want to avoid coming off as petty or inflexible, especially if you're writing about a controversial topic. It's great to have strong beliefs, but you also want to show that you're open to listening to other people's perspectives, even if they don't change your mind. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. The first part is very straightforward: how have you or would you solve a problem? However, you also need to "explain its significance to you. This prompt helps admissions officers see both what you care about and how you solve problems. Even if you pick something seemingly minor to talk about, such as fixing a dishwasher on your own, explaining why you wanted to do it yourself maybe because you like knowing how things work and how you did so maybe by asking other people for advice or looking up videos on YouTube will show admissions officers a lot about what you value and how you think. Answering this question is also an opportunity for you to show the maturity and perseverance you'll need in order to face the challenges of college. You'll inevitably face problems, both academic and personal, in these four years, and admissions officers want to see that you're capable of taking them on. Any kind of problem "no matter the scale" is fine—it just has to be important to you. Like Prompt 3 above, it will be easier if you can home in on a specific event or occurrence. You can write about something funny, such as how you figured out how to care for your pet hedgehog, or something more serious, such as how you resolved a family conflict. Writing about a problem you want to solve, rather than one you've already found a solution to, is much harder because it's more abstract. You certainly can do it, however; just make sure to have a compelling and concrete explanation for why this problem is important to you and how you came upon the solution you're proposing. For example, say a student, Tommy, wanted to solve the problem of homelessness. First of all, because this is a very big problem that no one person or solution is going to fix, he would need to describe specifically what problem within the larger issue he wants to address. Then, in writing his essay, he might focus on telling a story about how a man he met while volunteering at a homeless shelter inspired his idea to hire men and women living in shelters to work as liaisons in public spaces like libraries and parks to help homeless people get access to the services they need. Avoid anything sweeping or general: for example, "How I plan to solve world hunger" is probably not going to work. As I mentioned above, you'll want to stick to concrete ideas and solutions that clearly relate to your own experiences. Simply writing down some of your ideas, no matter how great they are, isn't going to make for a very interesting essay. Look at those dummies, solving a problem! Common App Essay Prompt 5: Personal Growth and Maturity Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. Like Prompt 1, this one is very general. It's asking you to talk about something you did or something that happened that caused you to grow or mature as a person. The other key point to remember when addressing this question is that you need to explain how this event changed or enriched your understanding of yourself or other people. In short: when and how have you grown as a person? Personal growth and maturity are complicated issues. Your essay might touch on themes such as personal responsibility and your role in the world and your community. You don't have to explain your whole worldview, but you need to give readers a sense of why this particular event caused significant growth for you as a person. This prompt can also help you show either your own sense of self-concept or how you relate to others. Much like Prompt 3, this question likely either appeals to you or doesn't. Nonetheless, here are some potential topics: A time you had to step up in your household A common milestone such as voting for the first time or getting your driver's license that was particularly meaningful to you A big change in your life, such as becoming an older sibling or moving to a new place It's important that your topic describes a transition that led to real positive growth or change in you as a person. However, personal growth is a gradual process, and you can definitely still approach this topic if you feel you have more maturing to do. Fun fact: most adults feel they have more maturing to do, too! Just focus on a specific step in the process of growing up and explain what it meant to you and how you've changed. Almost any topic could theoretically make a good essay about personal growth, but it's important that the overall message conveys maturity. If the main point of your essay about junior prom is that you learned you look bad in purple and now you know not to wear it, you'll seem like you just haven't had a lot of meaningful growth experiences in your life. You also want the personal growth and new understanding s you describe in your essay to be positive in nature. If the conclusion of your essay is "and that's how I matured and realized that everyone in the world is terrible," that's not going to work very well with admissions committees, as you'll seem pessimistic and unable to cope with challenges. Common App Essay Prompt 6: Your Passion Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? This prompt is asking you to describe something you're intellectually passionate about. But in addition to describing a topic of personal fascination and why you're so interested in it, you need to detail how you have pursued furthering your own knowledge of the topic. Did you undertake extra study? Hole yourself up in the library? Ask your math team coach for more practice problems? Colleges want to admit students who are intellectually engaged with the world. They want you to show that you have a genuine love for the pursuit of knowledge. Additionally, by describing how you've learned more about your chosen topic, concept, or idea, you can prove that you are self-motivated and resourceful. Pretty much any topic you're really interested in and passionate about could make a good essay here, just as long as you can put can put an intellectual spin on it and demonstrate that you've gone out of your way to learn about the topic. So It's fine to say that the topic that engages you most is football, but talk about what interests you in an academic sense about the sport. Have you learned everything there is to know about the history of the sport? Are you an expert on football statistics? Emphasize how the topic you are writing about engages your brain. Don't pick something you don't actually care about just because you think it would sound good. How did our hero overcome the conflict and what lessons did he or she learn? The story is the meat-and-potatoes of the admissions essay, and the reason for this is that a story containing all of these elements will not only leave a lasting impression in the minds of the admissions officers, it will tell them what they need to know about how you deal with adverse situations and how you are able to glean important lessons from them. A protagonist who fights against all odds and becomes better and wiser for the struggle is probably someone who will perform excellently in a tough program at a top-tier college. Then go back to the beginning and provide the background details before moving back to the conflict and showing the reader how you handled the situation. Telling a story requires planning and brainstorming. Write down any significant and defining events in your past that come to mind before choosing one. Show your unique self through your story If you remember nothing else from reading blogs about writing admissions essays, keep in mind that you should always strive to ENTERTAIN the reader. Readers can be deeply affected by the inner thoughts and unusual or impressive actions of the protagonist or of other interesting characters. In a personal essay, you must show your character mostly from a first-person perspective, and this means that every action or perspective should be filtered through you. What are your fascinating flaws? Maybe your social anxiety disorder has made your extracurricular achievements that much more impressive. In the essay, your geeky photo collection of late Etruscan pottery will make you MORE popular, not less no offense to the Etruscans. Most importantly, write about WHY do you do what you do and think what you think. Explain your thought process—let the reader into your mind to see how you tick. Imagine yourself as a character and really flesh yourself out to make the admissions officers remember you. Acknowledging your flaws or weak points demonstrates maturity and self-understanding—important qualities for a college student. But this rule is much easier to understand than to follow, and a whole lot of beginning writers and even many professional writers mistake telling about what one did or how one felt with showing it. When summarizing, one often gives an overview of the situation, using more general abstract nouns and adjectives to describe events, objects, or feelings. This well-worn idiom captures the mindset of the decision-makers at the Common Application who announced this January that the essay prompts for the upcoming admissions cycle will be the same as they were in In the opinion of the College Transitions staff, the choice not to tinker was a wise one. In this blog we will review: What are the Common Application Prompts? Some students have a background, identity, interest or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale.