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Tips to Writing a Captivating Common App Personal Essay


The Common Application, affectionately known as the Common App, has become the go-to platform for college applications, used by hundreds of colleges and universities around the world. One crucial component of the Common App is the personal essay, which offers applicants an opportunity to showcase their unique experiences, perspectives, and aspirations. Crafting a captivating personal essay can significantly impact your chances of standing out among the sea of applications. In this blog post, we will provide you with essential tips to help you write an engaging and memorable Common App personal essay.

Reflect on your experiences:

Before you start writing, take some time to reflect on your life experiences and identify the moments that have had a significant impact on you. Think about personal challenges you've faced, meaningful relationships, or transformative events. These experiences will serve as the foundation for your essay and allow you to convey your authentic voice.

Find your unique angle:

With countless essays to read, admissions officers are looking for something that sets you apart. Discover your unique angle or perspective on the experiences you've chosen to write about. Avoid common topics and clichés, and strive to bring a fresh and distinctive approach to your essay. Your goal is to make the admissions officers remember you long after reading your essay.

Tell a compelling story:

A captivating personal essay often revolves around a well-crafted story. Engage your readers by weaving a narrative that draws them in from the beginning and keeps them hooked until the end. Develop your essay with a clear structure, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Make sure each paragraph contributes to the overall flow and builds upon the previous one.

Show, don't just tell:

Rather than simply stating facts and accomplishments, show your readers who you are through vivid descriptions and powerful storytelling. Use sensory details, dialogue, and imagery to bring your experiences to life. Engage the reader's emotions by sharing personal insights, thoughts, and reflections. This will make your essay more relatable and memorable.

Be authentic and genuine:

Admissions officers value authenticity. Be true to yourself and write in your own voice. Avoid trying to sound overly sophisticated or using a thesaurus to replace your natural vocabulary. The goal is not to impress with complex language but to connect with the reader on a personal level. Admissions officers are looking for students who will contribute positively to their campus community, so let your genuine self shine through.

Edit and revise:

Writing a captivating personal essay requires multiple rounds of editing and revising. After completing your first draft, take a break and return to it with fresh eyes. Look for areas where you can improve clarity, coherence, and conciseness. Trim unnecessary details, check for grammar and spelling errors, and ensure your essay flows smoothly. Seek feedback from trusted mentors, teachers, or family members who can provide constructive criticism.


Writing a captivating Common App personal essay is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. By reflecting on your experiences, finding your unique angle, telling a compelling story, showing rather than telling, being authentic, and editing meticulously, you can create an essay that captivates admissions officers and leaves a lasting impression. Remember, this essay is your opportunity to show who you are beyond your grades and test scores. Embrace the process, let your personality shine through, and present the best version of yourself to the colleges of your dreams.

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