The Common App Essay is one of the most important parts of your US college admission application. It is one of the places where you can demonstrate your personality and talk about those things that the rest of the application do not highlight. It is the one thing that helps officers determine your individuality and what is really important to you. Our ebook will help you write the perfect essay and provide real examples of successful essays from students accepted to top universities like Stanford, UCLA, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and UC Berkeley.

What is the Common App Essay?

The Common App Essay (or Personal Statement) is a 650-word essay that’s part of the Common Application. You must complete this essay if you’re applying for college through the Common App.

Before you get started on your personal statement, consider the following:

  • Your Personal Statement is the best place to share qualitative and unique aspects of yourself with the admissions committee so they can get to know you beyond your grades, test scores, and extracurriculars.
  • It’s impossible to capture your entire personality in a single essay, so choose just one or two character traits that differentiate you from your peers.
  • You don’t necessarily need an incredible experience or story. Choose something meaningful to you and capture why it means so much to you in your writing!
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General College Essay Formatting Guidelines

The main focus of your college essay is the content. The format and structure should make the essay easy to read to maintain this focus.


A title to your college essay is generally not required and takes from your word count. It can also confine your essay to a single meaning, so if you decide to use titles, use them with care. Keep your font double-spaced with a line space between the paragraphs to keep the essay easy on the eyes.


When the word count is not given, staying around 600 words is a safe bet. While it’s important to share about yourself in your essay, oversharing could make you stand out from your competition — in the worst way possible!

Uploading Your Essay

If you are copying and pasting your essay into a text box, here are some necessary actions to take to ensure your essay will be received as intended.

  • Make sure that your essay is transferred over completely. Formatting on a different program initially than using the copy/paste function could cut your essay off, change your word count, alter the paragraph structure, and overall change the initial way you meant your essay to be read.
  • The smaller details, such as bold and italics, may not be possible depending on the platform. As the point of the essay is the text, not including bold/italics only makes for a more straightforward read — it might just be a blessing in disguise!

When attaching a document, you’ll need to be  more precise with your formatting, but here are a few rules of thumb to follow:

  • 1” margin is the standard, and difficult to go wrong with.
  • An easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman and Arial, is the way to go. The last thing you want is for the admissions officers to have difficulty reading your essay due to a complicated font.
  • Download your college essay in an accepted format according to the submissions site.

Top 3 "Why This School?" Essay Tips

What do winning college application essays look like, and how do you write one that stands out from the competition?

Writing your personal essay for world-leading universities can be difficult. From deciding what to write, to figuring out how to write about it, the essay component of your college application can be filled with countless obstacles and challenges.

We’re here to help! Our eBook is your ultimate guide to crafting a standout college application essay. Discover expert tips from a Former Ivy League Admissions Officer, proven essay strategies, and real examples of successful essays from students accepted to top universities like Stanford, UCLA, Princeton, Johns Hopkins, and UC Berkeley.

A Sneak Peek of What You Will Receive

Download our free eBook to access:

  • Exclusive tips from a Former Ivy League Admissions Officer
  • A step-by-step roadmap for crafting an effective essay
  • 20 successful application essays that earned our students admission to world-renowned universities in the US!