If you have arrived at this page on the internet by searching for information about The Common Application – welcome!
My name is Alan Stransman, and I am a Common Application Essay Tutor – which means that I help students write compelling Common App Essays.
But before we get to that – let’s make sure that you understand what The Common Application is all about.
The Common Application is Both an Application and a Membership Group
If you are not familiar with The Common Application at all, what I am about to tell you may sound a bit confusing.
The Common Application is an organization of colleges and universities with a common commitment to using a holistic selection process to evaluate students and to determine who is admitted and who isn’t.
What this means for you – as an applicant to colleges and universities – is that if you apply to schools that are part of The Common Application organization or membership – you can use one common application form, and you will be evaluated by the same criteria by each and every one of the schools to which you apply.
The Common Application levels the playing field by creating one application form that is used by all of the members of the organization – so you, the applicant, do not have to worry about filling out all kinds of different application forms with all kinds of different requirements – all of the schools that are part of The Common Application use the same application form.
Now – it would be lot less confusing if colleges and universities that are members of The Common Application called themselves The Common Application Group – and the application form that they use The Common Application Form – but they don’t.
The membership organization and the application that they use are both called The Common Application.
However – once you gotten over that bit of confusion, you can focus on using the Common Application to your full advantage, and that means understanding what the requirements of The Common Application are.
The Common Application Evaluates Students Using a Holistic Selection Process
The Common Application serves the interests of everyone involved in the application process – the member institutions, the applicants to those institutions and the secondary schools which the applicants attend by providing one application form for over 500 schools – that’s a lot simpler than having a separate application form and different application requirements for 500 schools.
But the goal is not only to create one common application form, it is also to promote a “holistic evaluation process”.
And what that means is that applicants are to be evaluated not only on the basis of their grades and test scores, but on the basis of other criteria as well – aspects of their lives that make them “whole people”, not just a set of numbers and letters.
The schools that are part of The Common Application don’t only want to know about your grades and test scores, they want to know what makes you tick – because they recognize that there is more to a person than his or her marks and that a college or university is a community, and for a community to be dynamic, there has to be a diversity of interests, backgrounds, personalities and interests.
So, The Common Application process id designed to find out about who you are – what you do with your free time, what you are interested in, and what there is about you that makes you stand out.
Remember – they are building a community here – and if everyone has the same interests and background – that community will be pretty boring.
Why The Common Application Require a Common App Essay
In addition to asking about your extracurricular activities, work experience and future plans, The Common Application requires a 650-word essay.
I have written several articles on this site about the Common Application Essay – commonly referred to as The Common App Essay – and you can read one of them by clicking here.
Now, one thing that The Common Application will not tell you – and neither will anyone else – is how much weight is given to the Common App Essay in the overall evaluation process.
My guess is – a lot.
Let’s put it this way – if you are on the borderline for any of the schools to which you applying, a very strong essay can make the difference and out you over the top – whereas a weak essay will not help you at all – it its really weak it may sink your application completely.
In other words, the Common App Essay can be a difference maker.
And your essay can only be a positive difference maker if it is compelling and memorable.
Why A Common App Essay Tutor is Needed Now More Than Ever
In an earlier article on this site, I have discussed the Common App Essay prompts for 2013-14. Some people refer to the prompts as “questions”, but they are not – they are prompts, and I explain what that means in the article. To read it, click here.
I think that this year’s essay prompts are more challenging than in previous years because the “old standby”, “Topic of Your Choice” is gone.
I have worked with quite a number of students and many of them wrote essays on a topic that they came up with themselves – which i don’t think is a good idea, by the way, because the essay prompts are provided for a reason.
Nonetheless, that option is no longer available, so you will have to select one of the essay prompts – and they are all challenging.
Choosing the right topic is fully 75% of the battle.
If you choose a weak or unoriginal story to tell, your essay cannot possibly succeed, regardless of how well it is written.
Many students make the mistake of thinking that that the Common App Essay is a writing competition.
It is an opportunity for you – the applicant – to tell your reader something unique about you.
Yes, your essay needs to be well-written – that’s a given – but good writing is not nearly enough.
Your essay needs to reveal something about you that sets you apart from all of the other applicants.
That is a tall order and it requires skills that most students have not developed.
And that is where I come in – I can help you craft your story so that it is powerful and compelling – because I am a writer and I tell stories for a living
How To Contact Me
Feel free to contact me any time to talk about your Common App Essay:
Skype: Alan Stransman
Contact me now for a FREE consultation!
Some Valuable Tips On The Common App From a Fellow Student
Despite a bit of nose-scratching, the video below has some useful tips on how to use The Common Application to your advantage: