One of the challenges in writing a great college essay, especially using the Common Application, is knowing what the college admissions officers are really looking for. The advice is often to not try too hard to please them, and that is generally a good idea. However, consensus exists on a few critical aspects of the college essay:
It must be well-written.
It must be genuine, composed by the student and about his or her own life and perspective.
It must demonstrate some growth, insight and/or readiness to attend college.
Beyond these fundamentals, it is also helpful to go to a level deeper in interpreting the questions that the Common Application is asking.
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If you're looking for additional support, short term academic coaching is an effective way to ensure that your college essays are well written and include the information that college admissions officers are looking for.