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Common App Essay Examples: In or Out of Frame?

Common App Essay Examples of Being in the Frame

If you have found your way to this page on the internet by searching for Common App Essay examples or Common Application Essay examples – welcome!

My name is Alan Stransman and I am a Common App Essay tutor – which means that I help students write effective Common App Essays.

One of the ways that I do that is by helping students decide upon the most engaging and compelling Common App Essay topic that they can.

In this article, I’m going to be talking about Common App Essay examples – but perhaps not in the way that you might think.

My objective in this article is to explain the concept of “framing” in a Common App Essay, and to do that, I will use some examples of effective and ineffective framing.


What Does It Mean to Be “In the Frame” of Your Common App Essay?

The Common Application essay is a “personal essay” – it is not an “academic essay” – which means that the subject of the essay is you.

Your Common App Essay must be about you.

Remember, the objective of your essay is to tell the Admissions Board of whatever college or university you are applying to something about you that he or she would not necessarily discover by reviewing your grades, test scores and letters of recommendation.

As a high school senior, you have probably never had to write anything like the Common App Essay before.

And that is what makes it so difficult.

If you want to write an effective Common Application essay – or any other form of College Admission Essay – one of the most important tasks is to make sure that you are in the center of the frameĀ of your essay – just like in a portrait.

In other words, the essay must focus on you.


An Example of a Common App Essay With Improper “Framing”

I recently worked with a high school senior who had already written a draft of his Common App Essay before he contacted me.

I am not going to share his entire essay in this article and I don’t need to to illustrate my point.

Let’s have a look at his opening sentence:

“Religious choice and freedoms are woven into our American fabric and history.”

Is this an effective way to begin a personal essay – an essay that is all about you?

It might be an acceptable way to begin an academic essay about religious freedom and tolerance, but that is not what a Common App Essay should be about.

Now – can you begin your Common App Essay with this kind of generic statement and then swing the focus back to you so that you are “in the frame”?

Yes – but why not put yourself at the center of the frame right from the start?


Common App Essay: Examples of Proper “Framing”

That’s what you call “effective framing”!

Now, let’s look at some opening sentences of Common App Essays that place the author right in the center of the frame, leaving no room for doubt in the mind of the reader as to what the essay is about.

These examples are from a publication entitled, “The College Application Essay”, written by Sarah Myers McGinty and published by the College Board, which I highly recommend.

“I guess it was inevitable that I’d be on hockey skates at some point in my life, but I did not expect that I’d become one of a rare group of female ice hockey officials before I even reached high school.”

“My childhood left three months ago on a plane to Austria.”

“I used to be a pretty deep guy.”

Notice that each of these opening statements makes it very clear that the subject of the essay is the author – “I guess….”, “My childhood….”, I used to be….”.

Compare these sentences to “Religious choice and freedoms….”

Remember – Admissions Officers do not want to read an essay about religious choice and freedoms – they want to read an essay about you.

So, make sure you place yourself right in the middle of the frame in your opening sentence and keep yourself there all the way through your essay.

That is what “framing” is all about.


A Common App Essay is Not Only About Your Opening Sentence

There is a lot more to writing an effective Common App Essay than simply writing an engaging opening statement, of course, but what I have illustrated in this article is the power of an essay which has a very clear focus right off the bat.

Have another look at the three Common Application Essay examples I cited above.

Wouldn’t you be compelled to keep reading each of these essays to find out more about the person who wrote it?

And that is the objective of your Common App Essay – to engage the reader and tell him or her something memorable, unique and meaningful about yourself.

To do this effectively, you have to come up with the right topic and then frame your essay effectively so that your essay communicates the exact information that you want your reader to have.

That is a very tall order and very few students are able to do it.


Do You Want to Write an Effective Common App Essay?

If you want your Common App Essay to really soar above the rest, click on the link below and get hold of my FREE report called “3 Tips for Writing a More Effective Common App Essay”.

Click here to access the FREE report.

Then, once you have read the report, contact me for a FREE 15-minute consultation to discuss your Common App Essay topic if you feel you need help defining and “framing” your topic.

If you need further help after the initial FREE consultation, you can arrange for me to help you – but the initial 15-minute consultation is FREE.

Once again, here is the link to the FREE report:

Click here to access the FREE report on how to write an effective Common App Essay

Once again, don’t hesitate to contact me for help if you feel you need it.