15 Jul How to Format Your Common Application Essay
How to Format Your Common Application Essay
The 2017-18 typical Application opened for business earlier this week (August. 1). Then you will soon have to understand how to format your common application essay.
If you’re in the ball, you may be ready to affect specific universites and colleges and have to submit your core Common Application essay, because well as other shorter essays required by particular schools (often called Supplemental Essays).
Or you continue to be getting ready or focusing on writing them, but will need to know how to format your common application essay(s) in upcoming weeks or months.
The first faltering step is to get a merchant account utilizing The Common Application.
Then determine your list of colleges you will be applying to, and begin searching the website for additional shorter essays they desire you to create.
Under each university or college, you will see a tab called Writing needs. You can find these additional short essays either under the College Questions or the Writing Supplements.
Every school is different, so really root around all the tabs and drop-down options. For instance, some schools will ask you to write about an extracurricular activity (in 150 words or so) underneath the College Questions section, under one associated with drop down tabs, such the Activities or Essay Questions tab.
Confusing, yes. But it will make more sense once you get logged on and explore the site.
RELATED: 10 Hot Tips to Power your Supplemental Essays
I like to advise my students to collect all the supplemental essays (by prompt and word count) in a single place ( such as a Word or Google doc file). That way they know what they will need to write about at the beginning, and also have the ability to see which ones are the same or similar. (for instance, many schools have supplemental essays about ‘Why are you a fit?’ or currently talking about your intended major.)
RELATED: Check out this short Slideshare to find out How to Write Short Essays.
Of course, the most important essay you will write is the core Common Application essay, although some schools don’t require it and you will determine which ones do as you read through the application site. (Even if you only have one of your target schools that needs the main Common App essays, you’ll need to create one and learn to format your common application essay.)
Nine Hot Ideas To Format Your Typical Application Essay
If you do have to submit a core Common App essay (you pick from one of 7 prompts; 250-650 words), here are some tips on how to format your common application essay:
- Compose your draft in either a word file or Google docs. Do perhaps not craft it directly in the Common Application text box (You could lose your projects)! If you use Word or Google docs, you can use their word count and, above all, the spell check feature. The Common App now allows you to upload Google docs directly from Google Drive. (Hint: If you would like to make use of this feature, you may want to get a Gmail account that you use exclusively for these essays.) It is possible to copy and paste your Word or Google doc directly into the Common App text box.
- The Common Application essay text package does perhaps not allow tabbing. So make your paragraphs with block formatting (have a space in between each paragraph instead of an indentation.) You can format this way in your Word or Google doc, but make sure it translates when you either upload your Google doc, or copy and paste from the Word or Google doc.
- The Common Application essay text box only has formatting for Bold, Underline and Italics. I would format your essay along MLA guidelines (using italics for things like book titles, foreign words, those types of copyediting rules.), and then make sure they translate or carry over after you upload or copy and paste. If you lose the italics, make use of the Common App italics formatting to include them inside the text box. I see no reason to make use of either Bold or Underlining in your essays. Avoid gimmicky formatting, such as ALL CAPS, emojis or #hashtags.
- Avoid titles. Even though i believe a snappy title can boost an essay, I see not a way to format it at the top associated with Common App essay that would center it, and think it could become more of a distraction. If you love your title, feel free to provide it an attempt, but I think it’ll only stick in the far left of the first line. (If you go for it that way, maybe put it in Bold to make it clear it’s a title.)
- Do NOT include the prompt at the top of your essay. That only eats up precious words. With your Common App essay, you simply check the box that your essay lines up utilizing the most useful.
- Supplemental (shorter) essays have similar formatting options. Utilize the same rules as above for these. Some don’t provide a text box and require you to upload from Google docs or attach A word file (converting it to a PDF.)
- Double check word counts. The most popular App text box and text containers for the supplemental essays show the minimum and maximum word counts, which is very useful. When you copy and paste an essay, always scroll through it to ensure everything copies (and your formatting carried over) and make certain it’s in the word count requirement shown under the box.
- You can return and make edits when you have submitted your essays. Even when you submit, go right back and review to make sure it’s exactly how you wanted it.
- General rules for formatting drafts in Word or Google docs: Use a common font (Times New Roman, Arial, Cambria…), write in 12 pt font, double space.
I hope this helps you format your Common Application essay, and not sweat it.
If you’re still working on getting a hot topic for your essay, read my Five Top Tips on Finding Topics.
If you have more questions on how best to format your common application essay, let me know within the feedback box below. If I don’t know the solution, I will do my most useful to get a credible source to answer you.
The New York Times ran an article yesterday called ‘Why Kids Can’t Write.’
Great piece, but used to don’t buy into the title.
They can write. ( Click bait.)
However, due to the fact article chronicled at length, most students haven’t been taught just how to create. The writing experts debated if the problem was at the mechanics end (lack of instruction on writing rules) or the other end with imaginative writing (lack of opportunity for personal expression through writing.)
I don’t think it’s an either-or issue.
Students need to first learn the principles of the street with writing and develop a basic expertise with grammar, syntax, vocabulary building, punctuations, etc. additionally they need to learn early on why these skills matter and are also relevant.
Everyone knows the only way to learn writing is to do it a lot. If students do not care about it, or lack something they would like to say or express through their writing, they will never do it and they won’t improve.
You need a couple of things to create: Something to say and the skills to say this.
Being a writing mentor, I have the privilege of working with students that are extremely motivated to create, possibly for the very first time in their life they require to create outstanding college application essays to help have them into their dream school.
Once they come to me, however, most are perhaps not prepared. They either don’t understand what to express in their essays (about by themselves and who they are), or if they do have ideas about their topics, they are ill-prepared on how best to frame and express them efficiently (so others care).
Does this mean they can’t write?
So long as they’ve their simplest writing skills down and yes, most do by their senior year of high school these students mainly need particular assistance with how exactly to consider themselves (exactly what they value, just how they learn, why it matters…) and direction on just how to frame and structure their piece.
Toss in specific writing techniques, ideas and devices (found all over this web log and in my books!), and they are off.
THEY CAN WRITE AFTER ALL!
Yes, if those same students had more opportunities and efficacious writing instruction during their English classes through the years, especially sophomore and junior year, of course they’d have more confidence when it found these college application essays.
The greater you write, the better you get at it.
Like all other skills tennis, throwing pots, hacking computers, etc. the combination of good instruction and practice is the only way to get better.
Same with writing. It isn’t a gift, although some people catch on faster for whatever reason (again, perhaps not that different from tennis stars and hackers). But even the pros practice like maniacs.
If you took enough time to read the The New York Times piece on Why Kids Can’t Write, they quoted several experts who were at the helm of efforts to enhance student writing.
Some believed the ‘problem’ was with all the mechanics, and promote solutions, such as for instance going back to sentence diagramming. (I actually did that in 7th grade by having an ancient English teacher and thought it had been fun, but I still suck at grammar and I don’t think that held right back my writing profession.)
Others made the instance for setting students loose to write that is free find their voice. I think free writing is a great exercise to flesh out ideas, but I also think structure can be very freeing in writing and gives students a productive framework for expression. You can free write for a month straight and still not be able to kick away a meaningful personal essay.
And, of course, all of them lamented the lack of reading.
I join their despairing chorus.
You can write even though you don’t read a whole lot. It’s possible. But odds are your tips will not be as wide and informed, and your ear for language will be in the flat side.
Also, the easiest way to learn is to observe how others do it. (This applies to writing college application essays: Read sample essays by other students to see just how it works, and borrow ideas and techniques from the ones you like.)
So far as ‘bad writing’ crisis discussed in this essay, there is no easy fix.
If The New York Times had asked me about students and writing, this is certainly what I would have said:
First, we need to value writing as one of the most important skills most students need both in their education journey and the workplace.
Second, we are in need of to train our English teachers how to write well by themselves, and then how exactly to teach writing. This isn’t happening in most high schools.
(I believe people from teachers to administrators to policy-makers are scared of writing because it’s such an intangible skill, hard to quantify and a pain to review, and are also happy to perhaps not have to manage it.)
Teachers are time-strapped, burdened and overwhelmed by the mandates of excelling at those stupid standardized tests (AP classes and SAT/ACT). There’s literally virtually no time to allow lessons on many types of writing, including personal and imaginative writing.
So, of course, kids can’t write very well, and lack confidence in their ability. They are not taught how to do it, and these are typicallyn’t provided time to rehearse it. Also, most of what they have had to write about is irrelevant for their world and BORING.
And as non-readers in a culture that does not prize writing, they’ve little reason to value it.
Until then one day, often within the summer or fall of their senior year, they are tasked with writing an essay about themselves which could make or break their college dreams.
In my experience, it is a golden moment. They suddenly care about writing.
And most are prepared to scramble to find something meaningful to say and learn to write about this.
Most students surprise themselves that they do have something to say. They have things they care deeply about and views they would like to express.
For the first time, they have a opportunity to hear their unique writing voice.
The New York Times article mentioned my favorite writing exercise to help students capture their voice and write about their background. It’s called ‘Where I’m From,’ based on utilizing a template from a poem by George Ella Lyons.
I talked about it in my post of College Application Essay Lesson Plans for English Teachers (at the end.) I also just used these exercises working with high school sophomores attending a collegebound camp here in Orange County, sponsored by Girls, Inc. And I used it with students at another collegebound program down by the border within the Rio Grande Valley this past year.
It’s nearly magic once they read their poems out loud and experience the power of simple, everyday details and images from their childhood.
For some minutes, they felt like writers, simply because they were, and they liked it. They got a glimpse at the impact of the own words and history. They cared. And wanted for more information.
All students deserve opportunities such as this to master how exactly to write for a purpose other than pleasing their teachers or standardized mandates.
It’s perhaps not fair that for most students, the one time they will care in regards to a writing assignment is when it feels too late to learn how exactly to do it.
( great news If this is you: It isn’t too late to master. This is exactly why I started this web log to share plenty of advice and tips about how to learn writing skills and techniques to craft standout essays about yourself! Read more posts!!!)
We can alter this. But first, all of us need to care more. About writing.