2 years ago
Admissions Advice

Writing the common app essay about transferring high schools

Hi everyone,

So I'm completing the writing parts of my Common App and I'm an international student who transferred high schools. First-year of secondary school I did in Brazil in a small independent school and the rest in Venezuela in a larger independent school. I'm not sure why should I write in this mini-essay response, my main reason was because of my dad's job.

If someone could help,


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2 answers

Accepted Answer
2 years ago

Just say you transferred for economical reasons and your experience in doing so. Whatever you feel brings out your personality best is the way to go.

2 years ago[edited]

Hi @valvarg, I'm here to help you. One of the big problems for International students applying to American colleges and universities is that they do not fully understand the educational system in America nor do they understand the purpose of the common app essay.

I'm here to clarify that for you. American colleges get thousands and thousands of applications to each of the 4300 colleges. The most popular aggregator of college applications is the Common App which is used by 950 of the most popular colleges. When a Common App partner college reads an application much of the information and data points are standardized like GPA, Course Rigor, Demographics etc. Therefore, on paper (on screen) there is little to differentiate Candidate #9153 from Candidate #4163 if they have similar statistics.

That is why there are written prompts on the application. These are the main 650 word essay and the short answers for Extracurricular activities, and the optional add'l info section.

What colleges want to learn after reading your main 650 essay is the following types of questions:

-What makes this applicant unique and a stand out human being?

-What new information did I learn from reading this essay that is not apparent in the rest of the application?

-What is special about this applicants personal character, passions, work ethic, intellectual curiosity that is not clearly evident in the rest of the application?

-How brave, resilient, courageous, righteous, thoughtful, kind and selfless is this person I'm reading about?

You see, when applications readers only have about 10 minutes to read your entire Common App file including the essays, they want and need something important and meaningful for them to grab on to about your narrative so they can advocate for you against the sea of nicely breaking waves. They are not looking for a 3 to 5 foot white cap wave in this sea of applications. They are looking for the Tsunami! Someone who is going to make a huge impact and change the world around them.

I hope that helps you and why I felt compelled to offer advice that writing about going to school A and then changing to school B is not ideal unless something significantly transformational happened to your character, outlook, attitude that is visibly impactful.

Good luck.

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