Common App Essay Examples

July 16, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Common App Essay Examples

What is the Common Application essay?

We have heard the “Common App” a lot when it comes to college admissions. You might wonder “what is the Common Application essay?” The Common App streamlines the process, which helps to cut down on some of the steps involved in applying to college. Students can submit one application through the Common Application to multiple schools at once. You won’t have to repeatedly enter the same data (such as your personal information, transcripts, etc.) in this way.

Is the Common App Required for College Applications?

Is the common app required for college applications? “I don’t have to use the Common App,” is the quick response to the question. You don’t have to use the Common App if the school(s) you’re interested in applying to accept applications through their websites, though it may be more convenient to do so. Some schools will insist on it, and they might not even be options on the Common Application.

Using a laptop while on a desk near a window.

On the other hand, some schools might insist that you use the Common App, so it all depends. Before applying, make sure to read the instructions on the website of your desired school.

How to fill out the Common App?

Through the online Common  App platform, more than 1 million students apply each year to more than 900 member colleges worldwide. Here’s the steps on how to fill out the Common App:

Make an account on the Common App.

An email address is all you need to get started. In addition to being asked to create a login and password, you’ll also be asked a few brief questions about your identity (parent, teacher, or counselor) and the timing of your college application.

Young female student typing in her laptop in a squat position.

Verify which colleges on your shortlist accept the Common Application.

The Common App is not accepted by all colleges. As an alternative to using ApplyTexas for Texas colleges, colleges may ask you to complete their own application form.

Young woman reading a letter in front of a laptop.

In your Common App account, add any colleges you are interested in to the My Colleges list.

Examine the admission details for each institution you are thinking about.

Remember that Common App schools may have different requirements for writing, testing, essays, and letters of recommendation. Do your homework, please! Although all colleges will accept the same Common College Application, some may have different admission standards.

For instance, one college might require the SAT, while another might not. In addition to the Common App essay, many schools will ask you to write essays or complete additional college-specific questionnaires.

All of these add-ons can be submitted via the Common App dashboard.

Compile the data you KNOW you’ll need.

Most applications will require you to submit a copy of your high school transcript, a list of your extracurricular activities, and details about your parent or guardian’s educational and professional background.

Begin developing your application.

Your application dashboard will display all of your colleges as well as the status of each application component. Choose an essay or inspiration from the Common App essay examples, begin filling out the general information, or request a letter of recommendation from your teacher.

Young woman working on something in her laptop.

There is no such thing as an impossible college application task!

Monitor your application’s progress

Your Dashboard’s icons are there to direct you. A green check indicates that your work has been submitted to the specific college, a yellow circle indicates that your application is still being processed, and a red dash indicates that the section in question is not necessary for admission to that institution.

Send your work!

On the deadline day indicated in your Common App Dashboard, submit all of your application materials no later than 11:59 p.m. (in your local time zone).

2021–2022 Common Application Essay Prompts

The 2021-2022 Common Application Essay Prompts were released last August 1, the year 2021. One of the new topics for the Common Application essay reflects the developments that have taken place in the world over the past year.

The COVID-19 Optional Essay

Students may respond to a prompt in the COVID-19 Optional Essay Common App essay prompts 2021–22 that asks them to discuss the pandemic and how it has affected them in general. The Covid-19 prompt is meant to help with that. Below are some Common App essay examples and prompts:

The Covid-19 prompt is not meant to serve as a substitute for another essay.

An Essay About Achievement

Prompt: “Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.”

Here is a college essay prompt from the Common App that might be more enjoyable and intriguing to tackle. In addition to focusing on our successes, it’s also beneficial to learn from our mistakes.

Young woman looking happy while sitting on her chair.

Again, it’s best to write in a sensitive, sincere, and moving way. Make it relatable; this is a human point. Write about the activities leading up to, during, and following a milestone. Furthermore, there is no single definition of success.

Perhaps a single thought served as the impetus for progress. It is up to you.

To get it going, consider these instances:

  • Consider the crucial moment in your life that made the most positive impact. Write the background to this event. Perhaps this incident occurred after achieving a particular objective or realizing something.
  • Consider a goal that you pursued and completed. Create your story based on this incident. Remember the specifics. They are what tie the narrative together. Keep the readers interested.

An Essay About Your Background

Prompt: “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

One of the most intriguing Common App essay topics for 2021–22 is this one. It was one of the Common App essay topics for 2022 and has remained there over time. Keep in mind what you just read.

This writing exercise asks you to create personal, sincere, captivating, and healthy content. This prompt is all about you. Tell a story from your life that will help the admissions committee understand who you are.

Here are some examples for those who might be a little perplexed:

  • Describe your background and how it has influenced you in your writing. Our upbringing has a significant impact on who we are. Particularly, childhood plays a significant role in our lives. Our encounters there has a lasting impact on who we are.
  • For those who have the courage to divulge specifics about what makes them special, go ahead and do so. Colleges are interested in learning about your identity and character. Your current personality type can indicate what value you can contribute.

An Essay About Failure

Prompt: “The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?”

Success is born out of failure.

Female student looking sad while her notes are strewn in the table.

Students are encouraged to write about and share their struggles in these types of Common App college essay prompts, but there is a caveat. Students must include the silver lining in all of it when writing the conclusion to their essay rather than just writing about their suffering. The lesson discovered as a result of the hand of cards.

Examples that may come to mind include:

  • A significant event in your life that altered its course, either positively or negatively. Although significant setbacks can be devastating, they can also be empowering. Consider a situation that you didn’t want to occur but that ultimately helped you find a new or better path.
  • A period in your life when you encountered difficulties and failure while pursuing something or someone. This will give you the opportunity to write about the lessons you had to take away in order to get through your ordeal or accept it and move on.Sample Essay about Failure:

I’ve played baseball ever since I could remember, but somehow, at fourteen, I still wasn’t very good at it. You’d think that ten years of summer leagues and two older brothers who’d been the stars of their teams would have rubbed off on me, but you’d be wrong. I mean, I wasn’t completely hopeless. I was pretty fast, and I could hit my oldest brother’s fastball maybe three or four times out of ten, but I wasn’t about to be scouted for college teams.

My team that summer, the Bengals, wasn’t anything special, either. We had one or two pretty talented guys, but most, like me, were just barely what you could call decent. But somehow we’d almost scraped through the first round of playoffs, with only one game standing between us and semifinals. Predictably, the game had come down to the last inning, the Bengals had two outs and players on second and third base, and it was my turn at bat.

It was like one of those moments you see in movies. The scrawny kid who no one really believed in hits a miraculous home run, winning the big game for his underdog team and becoming a local legend. Except my life wasn’t The Sandlot, and any hopes my teammates or coach might’ve had for a last-minute rally to victory were crushed with my third swing-and-miss when the umpire sent me back to the dugout with a “strike three – you’re out!”

I was inconsolably angry with myself. I spent the entire car ride home tuning out my parents’ words of consolation, replaying my strike-out over and over in my head. For the next few days I was miserable thinking about how, if it hadn’t been for me, the Bengals might have been on their way to a league victory, and nothing anyone said could convince me that the loss wasn’t on my shoulders.

About a week later, some of my friends from the team got together at the park to hang out. When I arrived, I was a little surprised that no one seemed to be mad at me – after all, I’d lost us the game, and they had to be disappointed about not making it to the semifinals.

It wasn’t until we split into teams for an impromptu pickup game that I started to realize why no one was upset. Maybe it was the excitement of reaching the playoffs or the pressure of living up to my brothers’ examples, but sometime during that game, I’d lost sight of why most of us played summer league baseball. It wasn’t to win the championship, as cool as that would have been. It was because we all loved to play. I didn’t need a trophy or a Hollywood come-from-behind win to have fun playing baseball with my friends, but maybe I needed to strike out to remember that.

Essay About Gratitude

Prompt: “Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?”

Writing well will help reveal important aspects of your character in this prompt. It will be fascinating to observe how you behave when you are feeling grateful for someone or something they have done. It can provide insight into whether you know how to express gratitude or not, as well as whether gratitude by itself is sufficient to change your behavior for the better.

Here are some illustrations to guide your writing:

  • If you recently received a gift from someone, consider the occasion. Write how it made you feel, whether it was unconditional or not, and whether or not you experienced gratitude. Write about your subsequent actions, or lack thereof. Describe how gratitude affects your feelings. If it did, describe how you responded by giving them something in return.
  • Consider the most thoughtful thing someone has ever done for you, and let this inspiration guide your writing. Write in-depth about any emotions you may have experienced and shared with this person, and describe both the immediate and long-term effects of this.

Essay About Motivation

Prompt: “Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose track of time. Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more?”

Young man climbing a rock in a mountain with a backpack.

One of the Common App essay examples for 2022 asks you to consider the aspects of your life that motivate you to get out of bed in the morning and be enthusiastic about something. Since that assertion is not binary, a person’s passion will always vary from one person to the next. There’s no need to worry because the answer is comprehensive. Being sincere will help your writing flow more easily.

Here are some writing suggestions:

  • Recall a subject or topic that not only grabs your attention but also affects you profoundly. Write about your passion first, then the emotions it evokes. Write about how you perceive those emotions.

Write about your response to being given this topic. Do you talk about it in-depth with others? Do you conduct additional research to satiate your curiosity? Write a profile of a person who has taught you more about this fascinating topic.

  • Write about why you find a previous person’s inspirational idea to be so amazing and how it has influenced you personally.Sample Essay About Motivation

The worst part about writing is putting down my Rubik’s cube so that I can use my hands to type. That’s usually the worst part of tackling my to-do list: setting aside my Rubik’s cube. My parents call it an obsession. But, for me, solving a Rubik’s cube challenges my brain as nothing else can.

It started on my ninth birthday. I invited three friends for a sleepover party, and I waited to open my presents right before bed. Wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows flew through the air as I oohed and aahed over each delightful gift! However, it was the last gift—a 3 x 3 x 3 cube of little squares covered in red, green, blue, yellow, white, and orange—that intrigued me.

I was horrified when Bekka ripped it out of my hands and messed it all up! I had no idea how to make all the sides match again. I waited until my friends were fast asleep. Then, I grabbed that cube and studied it under my blanket with a flashlight, determined to figure out how to restore it to its former pristine state.

Within a few weeks, I had discovered the secret. To practice, I’d take my cube with me to recess and let the other kids time me while I solved it in front of them. The better I became, the more they gathered around. But I soon realized that their attention didn’t matter all that much. I loved solving cubes for hours wherever I was: at lunch, riding in the car, or alone in my room.

Cross. White corners. Middle-layer edges. Yellow cross. Sune and anitsune.

The sequential algorithms became second nature, and with the assistance of a little black digital timer, I strove to solve the cube faster, each time attempting to beat my previous record. I watched speed solvers on YouTube, like Australia’s Feliks Zemdegs and Max Park from Massachusetts, but I wasn’t motivated to compete as they did. I watched their videos to learn how to improve my time. I liked finding new, more efficient ways of mastering the essential 78 separate cube-solving algorithms.

Now, I understand why my passion for my Rubik’s cube has never waned. Learning and applying the various algorithms soothes my brain and centers my emotions, especially when I feel overwhelmed from being around other people. Don’t get me wrong: I like other people—just in doses.

While some people get recharged by spending time with others, I can finally breathe when I’m alone with my cube. Our psychology teacher says the difference between an extrovert and an introvert is the situations that trigger their brains to produce dopamine. For me, it’s time away, alone, flipping through cube patterns to set a new personal best.

Sometimes, the world doesn’t cooperate with introverts, requiring them to interact with many people throughout the day. That’s why you’ll often find me in the stairwell or a library corner attempting to master another one of the 42 quintillion ways to solve a cube. My parents tease me that when I’ve “had enough” of anything, my fingers get a Rubik’s itch, and I suddenly disappear. I’m usually occupied for a while, but when I finally emerge, I feel centered, prepared to tackle my next task.

Secretly, I credit my cube with helping me earn top marks in AP Calculus, Chemistry, and Physics. It’s also responsible for my interest in computer engineering. It seems I just can’t get enough of those algorithms, which is why I want to study the design and implementation of cybersecurity software—all thanks to my Rubik’s cube.

Just don’t tell my parents! It would ruin all the fun!

Subject-of -Your-Option Essay

Prompt: “Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design.”

It may be one that you have already written, one that answers another prompt, or one that you have created yourself. For those who select this prompt, you’ve already been given the benefit of a wider variety of possible responses. The most crucial thing to keep in mind is to show understanding and individual insight in your writing.

The following are some suggestions for writing topics:

  • Pick a subject that you are very knowledgeable about. Writing will become much simpler as a result, and the topic will flow naturally without the need to overthink or risk feeling overwhelmed. You can also include a justification for why this subject is significant. To demonstrate authenticity, the tactic is to offer personal insight.
  • Picking a topic that is difficult to write about can demonstrate to the judges your capacity for critical thought, but more importantly, it can be a good opportunity to offer astute personal insight. Avoiding extreme viewpoints and attempting to consider opposing points of view can be excellent ways to demonstrate genuine concern and deep understanding.

Argumentative Essay

Prompt: “Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

It’s crucial to have the capacity to adjust your viewpoint and your position on beliefs and ideas, especially when faced with information that contradicts them. The key to being a strong, intelligent person capable of developing and changing for the better is the capacity to re-learn and confront outmoded viewpoints.

The 2022 Common App essay prompts of this type ask you to discuss times in your life when you had doubts about your beliefs. The act of doing so is what makes you grow.

Several subjects that can aid with this question are:

  • Recall a time when a friend, relative, or close companion vehemently disputed something you believed to be true. Journal your experience. Write about your conversation with this person and your feelings toward them. Write if this resulted in conflict between you two or if it brought you closer together.
  • Recall a time when you learned information that challenged your preconceived notions and biases about a particular subject. Write about how it affected you and whether it had a positive or negative impact on you.

You’ll also need to write supplemental essays for most colleges that ask more in-depth questions about the school or your background in addition to the Common Application essay. But every school on your list receives your Common App essay, which is frequently one of the first things admissions officers look at.

The Common App essay is frequently your one and only chance to make a good first impression.

That means you need to come up with a lot of ideas; don’t just choose the first one that comes to mind. After that, you’ll need to devote some serious time to write it, making sure that you’ve produced a well-thought-out and compelling piece. You should check Common App Essay examples to gain inspiration, too.

Be prepared to write several drafts after that. To get this piece just right, it takes time and effort. Think about asking someone who understands what admissions committees are looking for advice.

Last but not least, don’t get discouraged by these prompts! With all these Common App essay examples, you might wonder how you are going to write your own. But don’t be concerned—everyone has a tale to tell.

The biggest and most important issues are not required to be covered in your Common App essay. Most of the time, it’s preferable if it doesn’t. Instead, concentrate on what makes you special and different, then determine how to best convey that.

Check AdmissionSight’s Common App Essay That Worked to check more Common App Essay Examples and tips on how to make your essay noteworthy. You may also visit our site for college admissions consultation.


Recent Posts

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.