Common App Article

By Mattie Tomey

As the year comes to an end, seniors have made their college decisions, and we get to slowly relax as we look forward to our futures as our respective schools. But while senioritis is starting to kick in for us, the stress is ramping up for one grade in particular: the juniors. 

One of the most stressful things for me when doing my college applications was the common app essay. Even if you’re not submitting your applications through a common app, there will almost always be some sort of “personal statement” essay you must submit. As the juniors begin this process, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of our outstanding seniors’ essays to give anyone who needs it a little inspiration for getting started on their own. 

Rachel F.

  1. Tell us your name and what college you have been accepted to/have committed to. 

Answer: Rachel Ford, accepted to UMass Boston and UNH so far though not attending either. 

  1. What did you write your essay about? How did you decide to write about this topic?

Answer: My summer job at a dive shop, relating to feeling like an outsider and sense of belonging to a new community. During the summer I decided that what happened during my time at work was the most interesting thing I could start writing about then and I could relate it to my larger life and previous issues.   

  1. What is one piece of advice you would give to a student currently trying to start their essay?

Answer: If you think of anything (a topic, a sentence, a couple of words) write it down in the notes app. Also, you will have to force yourself to write the essay even though it feels incredibly daunting, so just write as much as you can and revise it because it’ll be bad. 

Sam H. 

  1. Tell us your name and what college you have been accepted to/have committed to. 

Answer: My name is Sam Herlihy and I am committed to Northeastern University. 

  1. What did you write your essay about? How did you decide to write about this topic?

Answer: I wrote my college essay about bicycles and how they have played a role in my development and independence. I also connected bicycles to the entrepreneurial flame that I have always had. The reason I chose to write about bicycles is that it was a perfect topic to convey things about myself I wanted to showcase to colleges as I was able to connect bicycles to some of my character traits and passions.

  1. What is one piece of advice you would give to a student currently trying to start their essay?

Answer: I would just advise them to find a central topic or theme (like bicycles) to connect to whatever they think are their best qualities. This will make it very easy to structure and write out your essay quickly. Also, don’t stress. 

Evan H. 

  1. Tell us your name and what college you have been accepted to/have committed to. 

Answer: Evan Hoefer / University of Michigan

  1. What did you write your essay about? How did you decide to write about this topic?

Answer: I wrote about the tv show “Friends”. I chose this topic because I have watched this show multiple times through. I wrote about how each main character on the show embodies one of my personal core values, and I related their experiences to that of my own.

  1. What is one piece of advice you would give to a student currently trying to start their essay?

Answer: Think of any mundane or simple things in your life of great importance to you. This could be as simple as an object, a hobby, or even a tv show. What about this is important to you? Relate this simple thing to yourself. Reflect on your experiences that have shaped, and how this thing has helped in the process.

Leddon Z. 

  1. Tell us your name and what college you have been accepted to/have committed to. 

Answer: Leddon Zwack – Vanderbilt University

  1. What did you write your essay about? How did you decide to write about this topic?

Answer: I wrote my CommonApp essay about the time my family and I visited my Grandfather in Destin, Florida. One day, my little brother and I decided to take my Grandfather’s ten foot long Boston Whaler out to a shore where we could conduct our “scientific research.” In my essay, I detailed how we launched a homemade bottle rocket and saved our boat from capsizing, a legendary tale of two brothers.

  1. What is one piece of advice you would give to a student currently trying to start their essay?

Answer: I struggled for weeks to even come up with a topic for my essay. I believe that my biggest issue was that I felt that I had to come up with a story good enough to be my main essay that I would be showing to every college. What helped me overcome this roadblock was the realization that I just needed to write a story about something that mattered to me and that the “meaning” of it could be added later. What’s important 

Julia M. 

1. Tell us your name and what college you have been accepted to/have committed to.

Answer: Hi! My name is Julia Marquis and I am committed to Emory University!

2. What did you write your essay about? How did you decide to write about this topic?

Answer: My essay was kind of cheesy. It was about different aspects of singing, and how as I learned how to sing, it helped me grow in different aspects of my life outside of the music world. A lot of it was about discovering how to use my voice in different ways. 

3. What is one piece of advice you would give to a student currently trying to start their essay?

Answer: I would say that something really important for writing your college essay is making sure you can write about something that encompasses multiple parts of your life and personality so the school can get to understand as much of you as possible. You want to make sure that the essay sounds like it was written by you, and only you. I definitely would go line by line and make sure that every sentence is something that is unique to you.

Kechi N.

  1. Tell us your name and what college you have been accepted to/have committed to. 

My name is Kechi, and I’m committed to Florida International University.

  1. What did you write your essay about? How did you decide to write about this topic?

I wrote my common app essay about my love languages—baking and dancing. When I bake for my friends, I’m non-verbally communicating how much I love them. When I dance, I tell my body and mind I appreciate them through movement. They happen to be not only my healthiest but favorite coping mechanisms. Many students think their topic has to be sad, or obscure, but this isn’t the case. Baking and dancing are concepts most can grasp, but how I personally relate to them is unique to me.

  1. What is one piece of advice you would give to a student currently trying to start their essay?

I was able to scramble this together the day before my first application was due, but I’d encourage everyone else to take the summer to start creating experiences or discovering yourself. I’m here to say it’s okay to change your essay topic. I was nervous about changing mine, but my final essay turned out perfect for me. I was upset I couldn’t express my original idea into words, but just like college plans can shift, you usually end up where you’re meant to be, and your essay will sort itself out the same way.

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