Guest Blog Series by Katrina Oko-Odoi: Writing your College Admissions Essay for the New Common Application
Focus on: Personal Essay Question 5 – A Transitional Moment
In past posts, we’ve addressed how the new changes to the 2014 Common Application will affect you, and we’ve taken a look at essay questions one through four. Today we focus on the final Common App essay – question number five.
–Keep it unique. Originality is key if you want to set yourself apart from the crowd.
–Shoot for around 500 words on your first draft. After thorough edits and additions, you’ll likely be closer to the 650 word limit.
-Remember, your essay is a supplement to the rest of your application. Avoid repeating information that’s already stated elsewhere; share your unique story that goes beyond all the test scores and grades.
Common Application Question # 5:
“Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.”
Is this question right for you?
Don’t forget that you should read through all of the essay questions before choosing the one that is the best fit for you. Question #5 is somewhat similar to questions 2 and 3, but don’t let their similarities confuse you! The key to this specific question is the word transition – how have you changed from the time you were a child to the young adult you are today? So leave the stories about how you challenged the status quo (question #3) or the lessons you learned from failure (question #2) for those other prompts. This question might be ideal for you if you changed in a dramatic or unexpected way during your teen years. It would also work great for you if a specific experience you had as a teenager forced you to mature or grow into an adult.
Consider the following scenarios:
Oftentimes, when we experience emotionally difficult situations, they force us to grow and mature in ways that we don’t realize until a few years later. For example, when I was in junior high, a student at my school committed suicide. It was a terrible, devastating experience for everyone who knew him, and not something that I bring up lightly. But, in hindsight, I do remember it shaping me as a person and my understanding of life and death in a very significant and meaningful way. As we look back on moments like this – whether they are tragic losses or more positive defining experiences – they may prove to be pivotal for us as individuals, especially when one is on the brink of adulthood, struggling to forge an independent identity as a mature adult. Tell the admissions officers how that moment shaped you, and how you grew from it.
Your story is unique to you and the world you grew up in. The examples I’ve shared here are only a few of countless possible responses to this question. Make sure that you reflect on your teenage years and think hard about how you have changed, and what has shaped that change. If you can pinpoint a specific moment or event that was transitional for you – transforming you from a child into an adult – then this might be the perfect question for you. Take some time to immerse yourself in your memories of that period in your life before you decide on the specific narrative you want to write. And make sure that whatever story you settle on, it is representative of you and reveals something important about yourself to the admissions committee.
Katrina Oko-Odoi is the Founder and Chief Editor of EditingWorm.com, a writing and editing company specializing in academic writing. For further insight into college essay editing and more, follow her blog: http://editingworm.com/blog/
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