College essays are personal statements that show a student's personality, values, and goals and can be one of the most important parts of a college application. It is rich in reflection and introspection that displays a student's self-awareness. Many colleges & universities require students to submit a personal statement or answer short essay question.
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Essay Prompts

Common App Essays

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The Common App essay is a 650-word personal statement that you submit with your college application on the Common Application. It is important to note that the University of Washington does not use the Common App Essay.

Supplemental Essays

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Universities may require supplemental essays and can be as, if not more, important as the personal statement. Below are links to the Essay Guy's how-to-guides for some of the most popular colleges and universities.

Essay "Do"s and "Don't"s

Essay "Do's

  1. Focus on the SMALL moments.
  2. Show your personality (your VOICE!)
  3. Keep the focus on YOU.
  4. SHOW don’t tell.
  5. Make the reader FEEL something.
  6. Read it OUTLOUD.
  7. Write an awesome HOOK and ENDING (it might be all they read!)
  8. Show that you are MORE than a GPA and a test score!
  9. Answer the QUESTION
  10. Demonstrate GROWTH over time.

Essay "Don't"s

  1. Don’t have TOO MANY people edit.
  2. Don’t OVERUSE the thesaurus.
  3. Don’t forget the ‘SO WHAT?
  4. Don’t mention the wrong SCHOOL.
  5. Don’t stray off topic. Stay FOCUSED!
  6. Don’t REHASH your activities/resume.
  7. Don’t be afraid to start at the MIDDLE of your story.
  8. Don’t use OFFENSIVE language.
  9. Don’t forget to EDIT for typos.
  10. Don’t be a CLICHÉ – use care on these topics! (sports injuries, volunteerism, winning state, moving to US, summer camp, covid-19)

Essay Tips

Additional Resources

Breaking down all 7 common App essay prompts
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