Part 4 of Katrina Oko-Odoi’s Guest Blog Series: Writing your College Admissions Essay for the New Common Application
In the past three posts, we’ve addressed the general changes to the 2014 Common Application, and we’ve focused on essay questions one and two, considering which applicants these questions would work best for. I will now address essay question number three. Read on for some great insight and inspiration on writing your college essay!
–Make it unique. This is your chance to differentiate yourself from your competition.
-When writing your first draft, shoot for 500 words. Chances are that after revisions, you’ll be closer to the 650 limit.
-Remember that your essay is a supplement to the rest of your application. Don’t repeat what’s already been stated elsewhere; tell your story beyond the test scores and GPA.
Common Application Question # 3:
“Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?”
Is this question right for you?
Let me remind you, once again, to take the time to read through all of the essay topics before choosing which one best suits you. Question #3 might be ideal for you if you have strong convictions or a deeply-rooted belief system that guides your decisions and actions in life, and you recall a specific moment in your past when speaking your mind constituted a pivotal moment for you. It would also be the perfect choice for you if you have never been very passionate about social or political issues, but a certain incident motivated you to take a stand for the first time in your life.
Consider the following scenarios:
If you are like me and you’re passionate about your values and beliefs, then it is likely that at some point in your past, you have stood up for what you believe in, challenging an idea or belief expressed by someone else because it didn’t sit right with you. Your experience and the action that you took does not need to be dramatic or newsworthy; what matters is that it was important to you, and that your decision to act had an impact on your life. Now, if your background or identity has shaped your ability to stand up for your beliefs or your rights throughout your life in a fundamental way, perhaps essay question one might be a better fit for you – allowing you to tell your own unique story. But, if a particular incident where you challenged someone’s beliefs, or you questioned the status quo, influenced your life in a significant way, this question (#3) is perfect for you.
Just remember that this essay is about you, not the opinions or actions of other people. So while you will be speaking about how you challenged someone else’s beliefs or ideas, make sure the focus is on the decision you made to act, what prompted that decision, what impact it had on you, and what that experience reflects about you as an individual, as a citizen, as a member of a larger community (like the community of students at your #1 college, for example). YOU are the moral of this story, so don’t stray from that focus, no matter how hard it may be for you to toot your own horn. You have permission to brag, just this once! Don’t miss my next blog on Common Application Essay Question # 4.
Katrina Oko-Odoi is the Founder and Chief Editor of EditingWorm.com, a writing and editing company specializing in academic writing. For more insight into college essay editing and more, follow her blog: http://editingworm.com/blog/