Common App Essay Advice

6a00e54ed0db8e8833010536f8f30b970b-800wiYou’ve filled in all the empty spaces; you’ve identified siblings, parents, CEEB code, guidance counselor fax number and now you’re hovering above the “SUBMIT” button. You’ve checked it two, three, four different times but you still get the sense that it’s not quite ready. Like a cake without frosting, your Common Application is still not ready for consumption. So for the nth time, you go back to check your essay – one last time, you promise yourself.

You meticulously check for spelling mistakes.


You review the 11 comma rules and check your essay again.

Looks good.

Yet, you’re still not ready to click “SUBMIT”.

Stuck in that position?

Here’s some advice for you:

Review the beginning of your essay – the first two or three sentences. Have you effectively captured your reader’s attention or have you simply begun telling your story? Have you grabbed your reader by the lapels and given them a good shake or have you quietly snuck into the room like a late arrival to the opera? Not sure?

Here’s what you should do – pick up a copy of People magazine and take a look at their articles (yes, there are articles). Actually, don’t read any article in its entirety – just read the first 2-3 sentences. Their articles aren’t brilliant or unbelievably well-written but the writers for People magazine do an outstanding job of grabbing their readers’ attention at the beginning of an article. And while admissions counselors do not read applications while standing in line at the grocery store, it is equally important for you to catch their attention at the beginning of your essay.

So get some inspiration from People magazine and spruce up your first 2-3 sentences. Remember, lapels are on our jackets for a reason. Give them a good shake.

Andrew Carter

Associate Director of Admissions

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