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Common App Personal Essay

Common App Personal Essay

Writing the Common App Personal Essay

If you have found your way to this website by searching online for information regarding the Common App Personal Essay – welcome!

The essay component of the Common Application is generally known as the Common App essay – but it is certainly a personal essay, so the Common App Personal Essay would be a very appropriate term for it.

If this is your first visit to my website, I will begin by saying that I am a Common App Essay Tutor, which means that I help students write compelling Common App essays.

I will also invite you, if you have not done so already, to read some of the other articles on this website, especially the home page article entitled, The Common App Essay, in which I review the Common App essay prompts for 2013-2014.


Why the Common App Essay is a Personal Essay

As I stated above, the essay component of the Common Application is most frequently referred to as “the Common App essay” – although it really belongs to the more general category of essay known as the college essay or the college admission essay.

What distinguishes a “personal essay” from a traditional academic essay is that the personal essay is about you.

Simple as that – you are the subject of your personal essay – and, unfortunately, there really is nothing simple about that.

What makes “you” such a difficult subject to write about?

After all, is there any topic that you know about than you?

The answer to that question is “yes” – there are many topics you know more about than what makes you different from everyone else – and that is the question that you have to answer in your Common App Essay.


The Common App Personal Essay is Your Chance to Say “This is Me!”

As I have pointed out in other articles on this site, including the blog post entitled, Common App Essay Questions, the Common Application provides five essay prompts which are intended to “jump start” the creative process.

It is a mistake to think of the essay prompts as “questions” because they aren’t questions at all – they don’t even read like questions – they are “prompts”, quite literally, and the best way to use them to your advantage is to try to recall an event or incident from your personal experience that has some kind of relationship to one of the prompts.

That is all you are looking for – a relationship to one of the prompts – not an “answer” to a question.

If you find any of what I have just said confusing, think of it this way: What the Admissions Officer wants to know is, “What makes you the unique individual that you are?”

That is what the Common App Essay or Personal Essay or College Essay is primarily about – finding a way into your heart and mind to see the unique personality inside – and the prompts are just there to help you find a road that will take you there.

The secondary purpose of the Common App Essay is to see how well you can communicate your unique story – so, it’s not only about what story you tell but also how well you tell it.

Make no mistake about it – the Personal Essay for the Common App is probably the most challenging writing assignment that you have ever faced.

Is it any wonder that 95% of college admission essays fall into the category of a “McEssay”?

What is a McEssay?

It’s an essay that sounds like every other essay.


How to Write a Compelling Common App Personal Essay

As I stated above, my job as a Common App Essay Tutor is t help students write impactful Common App Essays.

But if you were to ask me, what can you do to write a compelling Personal Essay I would say, “I don’t know”.

I would have no idea what you should write about without speaking with you and getting a sense of what is important to you and what events and experiences have shaped you into the person that you are.

That is how I help students write good essays – by finding out what they are all about.

It’s a lot easier for me to find out about about you than it is for you to find out about yourself – strange as that may seem.


Because I am an interviewer and a memoir writer and I know how to extract meaning from personal experience.

If you need help with your Common App Essay – especially if you are having trouble deciding upon a topic – I invite you to contact me.

Here’s how to reach me:


Telephone: 416-519-4427


Email: astransman@rogers.com


Skype: AlanStransman


I can help you at any stage of the process – even if you have already written a draft of your Personal Essay and want some professional feedback.

Just remember it is never too early in the process to get help.

It can save you a lot of time spinning your wheels.






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