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The 10 Most Important Tips for Writing the Perfect Common App Essay

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HAVE COURAGE

As you write the Common App essay, have courage. Don’t be afraid to share your missteps, stumbles, challenges, and even failures. Facing and overcoming obstacles is what builds strength and resilience and leads to growth and new understanding.

Once, a student named Tess went through a horribly painful junior year. Because of financial problems, her divorced parents were forced to live together but refused to speak to each other. Stressed out, Tess stopped doing her homework, started hanging out with the wrong crowd, and drank. But when she and her mom finally moved into their own apartment, she pulled her life together.

She went to therapy with her mom and repaired their relationship, stopped drinking, chose truly supportive friends, ate well, got enough sleep, did all her homework, improved her grades, and turned her life around. When faced with writing her Common App essay, she had the courage to honestly share her whole story, spending a third of her essay on her struggles and two thirds on her turnaround. Her impressive courage, honesty, and determination to succeed wowed the college admissions officers.

So relax. If yours has been an imperfect, bumpy path, share how you overcame your challenges and became resilient and adaptable along the way.


Topics: Life
Tags: personal statements, common app, applying to college, college admission essays, sparknotes college, college 101, crushing the common app, common app essay, common app essay prompts

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About the Author
Chelsea Dagger

Since 2010, Chelsea Dagger (known in real life as Chelsea Aaron) has been SparkLife's sweatiest editor. She's currently working on a how-to-kiss guide for teens, and when she's not conducting smooch-related research on her life-size Joseph Gordon-Levitt cardboard cutout, she's eating pancakes, stocking up on industrial-strength deodorant, and destroying everyone at Harry Potter trivia. (EXPECTO PATRONUM!)

Wanna contact a writer or editor? Email contribute@sparknotes.com.