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Common App essay brainstorming tips?

Hi everyone, I'm starting to stress a bit about choosing a topic for my Common App essay. I know it's a crucial part of my application, and I'm unsure how to brainstorm effectively. Can you share any tips or experiences that might help me come up with a unique and compelling topic? Thank you!

6 months ago

Hello! It's natural to feel a bit anxious about choosing a topic for your Common App essay, but try to view it as an opportunity to showcase your voice and what makes you unique. Here are some tips to help with brainstorming:

1. Reflect on your experiences: Consider your life experiences, both the positive and the challenging ones, as these can often be great starting points for an essay. Think about moments that have shaped your character, values, or interests.

2. Identify your passions: Make a list of your hobbies, interests, and the causes you care about. Delving into your passions can reveal personal growth, dedication, or values you want to share.

3. Analyze the prompts: Read the Common App essay prompts and try to identify the themes or ideas that resonate with your experiences and values. Use these prompts as a guide, but don't feel confined by them, as they're all quite open-ended.

4. Create a concept/mind map: Jot down your experiences, passions, and ideas, then connect related thoughts and look for patterns or stories that can turn into a compelling essay.

5. Consider the unique/unexpected: Think about experiences or perspectives that make you stand out. What might someone not know about you just by looking at your application? This might be an interesting topic to explore.

6. Talk to others: Speak with teachers, friends, or family members about their perspectives or anecdotes they remember about you. They might remind you of a memorable experience or see something about you that you might've overlooked yourself.

7. Avoid clichés: Remember to stay away from cliché topics, like sports injuries or victories, moving to a new school, or typical immigrant stories. If you choose to write about a common theme, find a unique angle or approach to make it interesting. CollegeVine's blog contains advice on how to do so: https://blog.collegevine.com/cliche-college-essay-topics.

8. Start writing, stay open: Don't worry about perfecting your essay topic right away. Just start writing, and let your thoughts and ideas flow. As you write, be open to change - your topic might evolve into an unexpected yet better version of the initial idea.

9. Give yourself time: Don't try to create the perfect essay in one sitting. Brainstorming and writing are processes that benefit from time and reflection. Let your ideas simmer and revisit them regularly.

Remember, the most important aspect of your essay is to letting your authentic voice shine through. The admissions committee wants to know more about you beyond your grades and extracurriculars, so share your unique story honestly and thoughtfully. If you want more detailed guidance on how to brainstorm for this crucial part of your application, check out CollegeVine's breakdown of this year's Common App prompts: https://blog.collegevine.com/how-to-write-the-common-application-essays/.

Good luck!

6 months ago

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