Should I include a title on my common app essay?Answered
I'm am writing one of my essays for the common app and I don't know if it needs to have a title.
Although I am not an expert, from what I've seen, I would suggest not to put an essay. The admissions officers will already know the prompt so they would know what the essay is about and also the title will count towards the overall length and word count of the essay. Once you finish it and you still have enough space to put in a title without making your essay too lengthy, then it is up to you whether to put one or not.
Hey @corryn, this is a great question and one we've been seeing a lot of lately. While it comes down to personal preference and what you're hoping to accomplish by including a title I would agree with @francisco and suggest you do not include one on the common app essay.
For one, as @francisco mentioned, the title would count towards your total word count for the essay. In most instances you're going to get a greater benefit from using the few words you would have used on your title in the body of your essay. You only have 650 words for your essay and, while it might not seem like much, those 4-10 words you might use for a title most likely can be used to add details to your story. In addition, you'd want to ensure your title doesn't mess up with the formatting of your essay. Nothing would be worse than including a title on your essay only to have it messing up the formatting and limiting your chances of acceptance.
Also, an admissions officer will be reading your essay regardless of if you have a title or not. Chances are your title won't be some eye-catching thing that makes the admission officer that much more interested in your essay. That should be coming from your essay itself. Even with the most catchy title it won't make up for a poorly written essay. Overall, the benefits of a title don't really outweigh the negatives in my personal opinion.
Now, having said all that, if you are set on adding a title to your essay I would recommend writing your complete essay first. A title isn't important enough for you to be stressing out over. Write your essay, edit your drafts, revise, and keep going until your essay is complete and you are 100% satisfied. After that you can see how much space you have left and consider adding a title. In the right situations, it's entirely possible a short, concise title, maybe one with some humor included, can work. Maybe something poking fun at pop culture or current events could work. But only add one if it actually ADDS to your essay. Don't have one just to have one. I definitely would avoid generic titles (Things That Matter to Me) or very general ones (My Life Story). Hope this helps and I'm happy to answer any follow-up questions!