College Consulting

7 Tips to Make Your Common App Essay Shine

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7 Tips to Make Your Common App Essay Shine

Kristie Beck, M.Ed.

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Want to make your common app essay shine? Please watch this video to gain more in-depth knowledge. However, here are seven tips to enhance the strength of your common app essay.

  • Don’t tell talk about your G.P.A or classes you’ve taken.
  • Choose a unique story and talk about yourself.
  • Speak about your interest or hobbies, and you’ve pursued them in high school.
  • Talk about the unique or challenging things you’ve done.
  • Show your fortitude and character.
  • Revise but make sure they hear your personality through your words.
  • Make sure you check your grammar and punctuation.

The College Search: Finding the Right Fit

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The College Search: Finding the Right Fit

With more than 1600 colleges in this country, how is a student supposed to know which one has the right fit? Colleges list majors and programs on their websites, but how can a student find the place where he/she will feel right at home? That’s not as easy to find. Here are some questions to ask that might help:


  • How far away is “too far”?
  • How far away is “not far enough”?
  • Will I be ok with a dramatic change in climate? Or do I need familiarity?
  • What are my true reasons for wanting to stay close to home?
  • Or, what are my true reasons for wanting to go far away from home?

Considering location first may help you reduce the number of colleges in your potential pool from the very beginning, but don’t be afraid to reach out. College is time to grow!


  • Do I see myself in a smaller school, where my professors and classmates know me?
  • Do I see myself in a larger school, with thousands of students and larger classes?
  • What kind of school do I want? One that is known for its fabulous football games? Meaningful social activism? Important contributions to research?
  • How would I describe myself? Where are the people “like me”? (Creative? Academic? Athletic? Competitive? Laid back?)

You want to find “your people” – so that you feel comfortable being yourself, while at the same time you grow into the person you are meant to be.


  • What do I want as a major? What programs are most important?
  • How good a student am I? How hard am I willing to work for my grades?
  • What do I want to do after college, and which majors/programs/internships can get me there?
  • Do I want to study only my area of interest? Or am I interested in studying many things?

Many students change their majors! Choosing a college that has more than one major you would consider may be helpful in your exploration and growth in the next four years.


  • Do I know what a college is likely to cost – not just the “sticker price?
  • What is the financial aid policy of the schools I am considering?
  • Will I qualify for financial aid? (All students should apply for aid!)
  • Am I eligible for any scholarships? (Academic? Athletic? Alumni?)

For many families, the cost is the biggest concern — understandably. But truly, college can be more affordable than you think! Don’t rule out colleges too early solely because of cost. Find out what a college’s average first-year undergrad pays and what the average financial aid package is. Wait and compare financial aid “packages” from various schools. Remember: schools that cost more will often offer more aid, making the cost very similar, even for schools with very different “sticker prices”!

Take your time. Do your research. (Call a consultant if you want help!) College is one of the most important investments in your future.

Do all you can to find that place that’s right for you!