<p>I'm making this post to help those who are struggling with or want to improve their essays for their application. I'm compiling a list of tips and advice based on the mistakes I've seen others make and the keys that helped me write my essay. I can also answer questions too. Hope it helps!</p>
I think the main thing colleges look for in the common is to see a) how well you write, b) how you think/view things, and c) your personality. This link has invaluable tips and examples for each of the common app prompts.
Common</a> Application Personal Essay - Tips for the 6 Personal Essay Options on the Common Application
This link also has some basic tips for any college essay:
Application</a> Essays: Tips for Writing Winning College Application Essays
For whichever topic you choose the major goal is to SHOW YOUR CHARACTER. Yes it's great if you wrote a great description of your trip to a third world country, but if the admission's counselors can't point out a personality trait then the essay isn't doing it's job. This is easy to do if you keep the focus of the essay on yourself. Not in a necessarily pretentious or conceited way, but a way that helps the adcoms learn about you.
Another tip is to make sure you ANSWER THE QUESTION. For example the 1st common app topic:
Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
-The key word is "evaluate". Don't simply describe a significant experience, explain WHY the experience was significant to you and how it changed you. (The 1st link will have more tips on each of the questions).</p>
<p>Another tip is to check your grammar. Have a teacher, counselor, or adult you can trust check for grammar and style. In addition make sure you treat this like any other English paper with MLA headings, double space, etc.</p>
<p>My last bit of advice on the common app is to simply write from the heart and write on what your passionate about. If you spend too much time trying to write the essay you think the adcoms want to read, you'll become frustrated and make the essay much harder than it really is. I (foolishly) wrote my essay at the last minute and panicked trying to pick the perfect topic and find the formula an admissions-winning essay. Eventually I said to hell with all that and wrote what I truly felt. I picked the "topic of your choice" and wrote about my miscellaneous personality. In less than 24 hours before the deadline I was able to get down an essay that painted a good representation of me and one that I could be proud of. </p>
<p>If you have any questions post them here and I'll post my supplement tips soon.</p>