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When writing about a meaningful experience or event, you don’t have to give a long timeline of events.

Instead, give the reader the piece of the puzzle that conveys your message. With upwards of 25 or more essays to write for a balanced college list of 10-12 schools, it’s tempting for students to repurpose essays across applications if the prompts are similar.

While the Common Application prompts for the main essay are general enough to allow students to write about whatever they choose, it still needs to be clear how that essay addresses the prompt. Check and double check that a clear connection is made between the topic or lesson of your essay, and the question the prompt is asking. If you’re applying to 10 colleges and wait until two weeks before applications are due, you’re going to have a lot of writing to complete in a very short amount of time.

Waiting until the last minute leads to stress and rushed essays that don’t accurately convey your message.

Instead of writing what you think the admissions office wants to read, write about what you want them to know.

Again, the essay is a great space to reveal something new about you, so stand out by being yourself and showing another side of you as a person or student. Using lofty language and complex sentence structure can make you sound sophisticated, but is that really how you speak?

DON’T use the personal statement essay to repeat your resume. The personal statement is your opportunity to reveal something about yourself that can’t be found anywhere else in your application – use it!

Many students use this essay to expound upon activities or interests that are already heavily demonstrated in their application through courses, the activity list, and more.

Instead of reinforcing a top activity or interest, instead, write about something that reveals another dimension of your life or personality.

If your top activity is swimming, don’t write about the big championship meet.

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