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College Essays

Useful Information

Amber Lights will help you brainstorm topics, review your drafts, and make helpful suggestions as you write your college essays. 

The College Essay is another way admissions professionals can get to know you. Your essay will help them to see what is important to you, ways in which you have grown through a specific experience, what interests you, and how you communicate. 

While many colleges consider this an important piece of the application, others do not require an essay. If they do, review their prompts, select one that resonates with you, and get started writing as early as your junior year. 

College Essay: Resources and Tips
Image by Timothy L Brock

Common App Essay Prompts

The Common App is used to apply to over 800 colleges in the USA and some colleges in other countries, too. While the essay is not required for all Common App colleges, it is required at many. Get started in the spring of your junior year so you have time to share it with teachers and others who can give you feedback.

A Young Man Writing

The University of California Personal Insight Questions

Instead of one longer essay, the University of California Application (used for 9 universities) requires applicants to choose 4 of 8 prompts. Responses are limited to 350 words. It can be more difficult to write short responses, so get started early in the spring semester of your junior year. Find additional direction and tips to guide you through the process.

Reviewing Essay

The Coalition Application

The Coalition Application Essay is required by most of the colleges using this application platform. They have 5 prompts that you can choose from. While the length of the essays is not as exact as it is in the Common App or the UC applications, they do recommend that your essays are between 500-650 words in length. Find many essay tips from the Coalition App. You can get started early and save your draft!

Ring of Light Bulbs

The College Essay--College Board's BIG IDEA!

Find out what college are looking for in the essay; hear from students on how they got through this important part of the college application; get tips for generating topics, ways at being effective, and more!

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