Writing a college application essay can be a difficult and intimidating endeavor. With limited word counts, strict prompts, and high expectations to create a stand-out composition that accurately portrays you for admissions officers and other school representatives, it can take a lot of work to know where to begin!
That’s why we have the perfect solution for you. Let’s explore our Common App essay examples. These will help you make college admissions stand out and show off your unique skills and experiences.
What is a common app essay?
Over 900 colleges, universities, and colleges around the US accept the Common App essay examples as their primary writing sample. Each college that accepts these examples will assess your character, background, and value as a potential student.
This is your opportunity to make a compelling personal statement to admissions officers at schools that use the Common App. If you log into your Common App account and navigate the “Writing” section, you will be presented with a list of essay prompts and detailed directions for completing each. One of the seven popular app essay prompts requires you to write college essays between 250 and 650 words long.
This statement is intended to assist you in identifying your strengths, interests, and experiences. If your topic addresses the prompt, you can talk about almost anything. It is also open in terms of style and storyline. Many institutions may demand extra essays in addition to the Common App essay.
What are some common app essay examples?
The process of writing your college essays can be challenging. Luckily, many college admissions essay examples will help inspire your work and give you confidence as you enter the next step in your educational journey.
The “Why Us” App Essay
This essay asks students to explain why they are interested in attending a specific university or college. Through this essay, students can highlight their unique qualities and explain why they would be a good fit for the school they are applying to.
Sample Answer from AFSA by Francesca Kelly: “I did everything I was supposed to do. I planted long, sinewy aquarium plants. I obsessively checked the temperature and the pH of the water. I created small refuges by piling rocks in the corner of the tank so that crevices formed. Yet, for three years, I was left disappointed. Now, just this week, my hard work paid off: my pair of firemouth cichlids produced fry, filling my aquarium with dozens of tiny slivers darting here and there. This, my first successful attempt at creating the conditions necessary for spawning, marks the highlight of my years as a tropical fish hobbyist.
When I read that Wonderful College’s marine biology program includes an aquarium management minor, I jumped up from my desk with excitement. My interest in ichthyology extends from the theoretical and research components to the practical: I love maintaining aquariums. I will enthusiastically register for Wonderful College’s classes “Brackish Water Species” and “Rescuing Our Coral Reefs.” I have already read Professor Anthony Pescatore’s book, The Fish Hobbyist’s Bible, and I look forward to taking part in his aquarium club. I’m also excited about field trips to the John D. Pickering Aquarium downtown.”
In addition, I hope to take advantage of the marine biology study abroad program to Sumatra where I can observe unique species found nowhere else. For these reasons and many others, I’m certain Wonderful College is the optimal place to continue expanding my knowledge in the field of marine biology and ichthyology.”
The “Diversity” App Essay
A college or university asks students to elaborate on how they plan to contribute to diversity in their student body. Students are encouraged to share their experiences and cultural backgrounds through this essay.
Sample Answer from Scribbed by Kirsten Courault: “The smell of the early morning dew and the welcoming whinnies of my family’s horses are some of my most treasured childhood memories. To this day, our farm remains so rural that we do not have broadband access, and we’re too far away from the closest town for the postal service to reach us.
Going to school regularly was always a struggle: between the unceasing demands of the farm and our lack of connectivity, it was hard to keep up with my studies. Despite being a voracious reader, avid amateur chemist, and active participant in the classroom, emergencies and unforeseen events at the farm meant that I had a lot of unexcused absences.
Although it had challenges, my upbringing taught me resilience, the value of hard work, and the importance of family. Staying up all night to watch a foal being born, successfully saving the animals from a minor fire, and finding ways to soothe a nervous mare afraid of thunder have led to an unbreakable family bond.
Our farm is my family’s birthright and our livelihood, and I am eager to learn how to ensure the farm’s financial and technological success for future generations. In college, I am looking forward to joining a chapter of Future Farmers of America and studying agricultural business to carry my family’s legacy forward.”
The “Challenges” App Essay
The “challenges” common app essay example asks students to explain a challenge they have faced, how they overcame it, and how they applied what they learned to their daily lives. Students can share their personal stories and illustrate their resilience through this essay.
Sample Answer from Essaymaster by Esme: “Ten minutes before my orchestra and I were due to perform what would be my first symphony, our conductor called us into the wings of the stage for a pep talk. He told us how hard we had all worked, and I could tell that he was struggling to say something that would truly inspire a group of excited twelve and thirteen year olds. After about six minutes of clichés, he looked at his watch and hurriedly delivered his closing line: “One day, you’ll reach a point where you don’t get nervous anymore.”
A point where you don’t get nervous anymore.
That night, I embarked on a mission to find that point. I’ve performed at concert halls, churches, and venues all over the U.K. I’ve played as a soloist and as part of an ensemble to packed audiences. I’ve auditioned for seats in orchestras and for conservatories. I’ve performed at examinations on three different instruments. And yet, this point eludes me, the point at which I no longer feel my own anxiety, worries, and doubts about the performance I am about to give. I have yet to reach this magical and amazing place. And recently, I decided to stop looking.
I gave up my quest for this “point” during a concert with my orchestra. We were performing a piece by Debussy, one I had fallen in love with as soon as I played it. I was the first-chair oboist, and toward the end of the piece is an oboe solo; completely exposed, extremely difficult to play, and powerful enough to render the entire performance either incredible or mediocre. Needless to say, I was so nervous that I was sure that members of the audience could hear my frantic breathing onstage as we drew closer to the solo, measure by measure. As I took a breath to begin playing, I closed my eyes and thought of all hours I had practiced, all tiny details I needed to remember while playing, all of the amazing performances I had heard. I thought of how transcendent and haunting I wanted it to sound, how I wanted every member of the audience to freeze and just listen. And I played it. Every note sounded exactly as I imagined it, and every pitch released another burst of adrenaline in my body. As the solo came to a close, the entire orchestra launched into the finale, filling the concert hall with a sound so rich and powerful I felt that I was going to burst. As I sustained the last note of the piece with the 80 other musicians on stage, I thought, “Why would you ever want to reach a point without nerves, when overcoming nervousness delivers so much?”
I stopped looking for a place without anxiety because I realized that this “point” was really just code for a place of apathy. I thought I was looking for a state of being in which I would be entirely professional and calm, but I discovered that it is the on-edge feelings and challenges that sharpen me and make my performance worthwhile, and the wide range of emotions that make a performance incredible. I am convinced that this is true of life in general, and whether I’m swimming in a race, completely in tune with my environment, taking a test where I feel confident and prepared, or playing my instruments in performance; I never forget that I am in a race, an exam, or a performance, and the result reflects hours of preparation and hard work. In music and in life it is important to recognize and remember that while a place of serenity and competence seems appealing, to reach it would render every aspect of life mundane, numb, and ordinary. By contrast, pushing oneself to do better, to play better, to be better makes hard-earned accomplishments and experiences memorable. And if the price for excellence is a little anxiety, I am more than willing to pay it.”
The “Community” App Essay
In the essay portion of the application, students are asked to share how they have made a difference in their community, whether through volunteer work, mentoring, or other activities. For this essay, students will be able to display their leadership qualities and commitment to service to others.
Sample Answer from Baylor University: “Since getting involved in helping the homeless, I learned that for a time one of my relatives was homeless. When you have a house it’s easy to take it for granted, but all it takes is some bad luck for you to lose it. This is why I feel it’s so important that we all try to help those who have no home to go to.
As hard as it was to motivate others to volunteer and help out with our fundraiser, it was worth it in the end. We raised over $1,000 for the hurricane victims. Now when we see news coverage of that terrible disaster at least we know that we have done our small part to help.
The reward for being a coach has nothing to do with winning games. The reward is seeing everyone working as a team and enjoying the game. Win or lose, as coach you’re always proud after each game.”
The “Extra-Curricular Activities” App Essay
Students are asked to discuss their involvement in extracurricular activities outside of school and how they have helped them develop as a person in the “extra-curricular activities” common app essay example. As part of this essay, students showcase their interests and talents outside of academics.
Sample Answers from Prompt by Brad Schiller: “I couldn’t believe it. My soccer team was discussing whether or not to schedule an extra practice during the upcoming long weekend. “Of course, yes,” I was thinking. But, shockingly, the room was not with me. A quick consensus formed around no added practice. It was my tipping point — I finally saw that I needed to convey to this team that settling for mediocre was not an option, and that none of us would regret doing what it takes to win.”
The “Personal Statement” App Essay
This is your chance to explain yourself to admissions officers and tell them more about who you are, not just what you’re studying. This type of essay allows you to discuss anything you think will help admissions officers understand you, whether it’s your background, family, hobbies, interests, achievements, or goals.
Sample Answer from Tufts University by Kaycee Conover: “On one hot night in a dark room at the heart of Boston, I became friends with 19,580 people in one single moment. We had all journeyed to the TD Garden from wherever we were in our lives to see Tom Petty perform. I knew his music because my mother had shared it with me. It meant something to her and it meant something to me. His music meant something different to every person in that room and all those meanings, all infinite number of them, wrapped around the music notes and existed in harmony on that July night. I had to close my eyes. It was as if I could hear the heartbeats of every person in that room, pulsing along with the rhythm of the music. By sharing his music, Tom Petty gave me a striking awareness of 19,580 people that live and feel alongside each other. Tom Petty will live as long as people feel.
Lights flashing beyond my eyelids, I could feel what it was like to live more lives than just my own. Tom Petty’s art described his life, but it has weaved its way into those of so many others. My own, my mother’s then and when she was my age, and all the strangers around me who didn’t seem so strange anymore. We all have to go through our own lives and our own challenges, but just because we have our own lessons to learn doesn’t mean we are alone. I looked into the smiles of the crowd, the dancing arms and carefree yes, and realised we were all feeling something of our own. But we were feeling it all together.
With the shared heart of others, I can travel vertically through time and horizontally through space. I long to make connections and there are no boundaries that limit how this can be done, not even time and not even space. Imagine trying to count how many people have ever been inspired by the Beatles! Music is an honesty that you embrace more than escape. I sit in front of my piano for hours, copying the rhythm of until it feels right. I’ll never tire of hearing another tell me how they’re feeling without using any words at all and letting it become part of me. You can’t hide from your feelings when someone else is telling them to you.
And so I have become a curator of feeling. I am always listening, collecting the art of others. I have stared at paintings until they stared back at me. I cry while I watch almost every film, sometimes just because the characters are nice to each other. I’m as moved by the narrative of my old American Girl Doll books as I am by Dickens. It’s all swirls of feelings, of lessons from others that mirror those you need to learn yourself. Art embodies empathy and empathy has become too easy to lose touch with. Art is the same world seen from a different heart. I look at characters or creators and think, “How did you become the way you are?” I can look at others and think the same thing. And I have the chance the ask them.
Tom Petty did not write “Breakdown” just for me. Hard Promises comforts more than just me. I cannot live life from just my own perspective. Art exists in everyone. I embrace my hour-long commute to school as a chance to start conversations through the life that flows from my speakers, using old tunes to understand the world through my neighbors as we talk of our favourite colours or the abstract nature of time. My dad doesn’t seem so distant when we talk about our mutual love for The Band. This is how our moments are made. This is how we find the music that surrounds all of us, all in each other.”
Don’t know where to start? We can help
Writing a college application essay can be difficult. You want to stand out from the crowd but need to know where or how to get started.
Empowerly is an online platform that helps students write outstanding college application essays by providing them with expert advice and examples of successful essays written.
With our help, you’ll have your essay done in no time! Our professional writers will provide expert advice on what colleges are looking for in their applicants’ essays, as well as examples of real students’ work that were accepted into top-tier schools such as Harvard University and Yale University. Schedule a free consultation with us today!