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5 Steps to Consider When Writing Your Common App 650-word Essay

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

While the college process can seem very overwhelming and unknown, the one thing that should remain unchanged is the reason you are applying to college and what you want to get out of your college experience. For this reason, your common app essay should reflect this one main reason you are seeking a higher education.

Five steps to writing a powerful and convincing essay

1. Decide what you want to do long-term with your college degree. I know this is a big question, but in the end of the day, you are applying to college to study something and hopefully go to graduate school or work at an organization post-graduation (or work for yourself!). Your main college essay should address what you want to do long-term (even if you only address your ultimate goal in the final sentence!)

If you don't know what you want to do long-term, identify the skills or knowledge you want to build in college... and why.

If you are deciding what you want to do long-term between two or more options, for the sake of your essay and application, pick one to write about (and keep everything in your application consistent around this one goal). Once you are at your dream school, you can explore both options.

2. Identify the skills that would make you succeed in that long-term goal. Think about times in your life that you are most proud of. What challenges did you experience during those times? What skills and perspectives did you gain? How are these learnings applicable to your long-term goal?

3. Connect the dots and outline your essay. Think about how your stories string together, to ultimately show why you are interested in your long-term goal and why you will succeed in your long-term goal. Outline your essay first to make sure your flow makes sense and there is a clear story and thought process throughout.

4. Just write. And write a lot. Don't worry about your word count or editing initially and write as much as you can. This will help you flesh out your stories and identify what is most important to truly talk about and share.

5. Have someone review your essay that doesn't know you well. Your essay should be easily understood by anyone who reads your essay. You don't know who in the admissions team that will be reading your essay - you don't know their background, interests or preferences. That said, your essay should be easy to read, include minimal/no technical terminology and clearly state your intentions for pursuing a higher education.

Have More Questions?

Do you have more questions or want another set of eyes on your essay? Feel free to reach out to Rose College Prep at We offer free 15-minute consultations. We are here, if you need us!

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