What You May Not Know About the Common App

Filling out the Common Application seems fairly straightforward: you answer a series of questions about your coursework, list your extracurricular activities, and present your standardized test scores. You may feel that the personal essay is your only chance for admissions officers to get to know you beyond your grades and school resume. But, in spite of the application’s strict parameters, there are opportunities to incorporate nuance in addition to your personal statement. 

Below are a few tips and tricks to help make your application more robust, and provide admissions officers with a better understanding of who you are. Read on to discover the top three things you may not know about the Common Application and why spending some extra time on them might be worth your while. 

1. The 650-word “Additional Info” section is a great place to strengthen your common app essay or provide clarity. 

Add In More Personal Information

Are you a budding artist with a series of portraits you would love to show off? A science enthusiast who wants to geek out about your latest experiment? This section is your opportunity to include anything and everything that doesn’t quite fit into the general application. You can include extra honors or activities, links to your personal website or portfolio, or descriptions of projects you’ve done. 

Add Any Extra Explanations for Specific Circumstances

Additionally, if there is something in your application that requires more explanation, this is your chance to provide it. Maybe transferring schools mid-semester caused a dip in your GPA, or a health issue required you to step back from the basketball team. Any extenuating circumstance or inconsistencies can be noted here. 

2. Starting in 2020, the Common App added an optional 250-word essay. 

This essay allows you to describe the impact COVID-19 or natural disasters have had on you and those around you. You can include multiple impacts in the essay. Maybe the events of the past few years have changed you profoundly, but describing these changes doesn’t feel appropriate or unique enough for a personal statement. This short essay can give admissions officers a glimpse of how you’re doing and what you’re feeling in the current moment. 

3. The ten Common App activities and honors should be ranked in order of importance. 

Unsure of what to base your ranking on? Some factors could include the amount of time you’ve devoted to the activity, if you’ve had any leadership positions, and the impact you’ve had on your community. Which of these activities and accomplishments are most important to you? Where do you want to draw the focus of admissions officers? As for honors, you might consider the number of competitors, the degree of difficulty in obtaining the award, and the level of recognition. 

And, if you’re feeling stuck when it comes to the aforementioned written portions of the Common App, please check out Write the World’s college essay review service. Our advisors offer comprehensive feedback for your personal statement and beyond to cover supplemental essays, scholarship essays, and any other written responses required for your college application. 

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Walk away with a fully drafted, stand-out Personal Statement in hand, as well as a robust toolkit of writing resources. 


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