How many essays will I have to write for college apps?
That depends on the schools you apply to. Here’s a quick overview of what to expect.
Common App Personal Statement - the personal statement is a 650-word essay that you will submit to all schools that accept the Common Application. You will pick from 5 prompts they offer, all of which are viewed of equal worth by admissions officers. Pick the prompt that is right for you, and will allow you to share elements of who you are and how you think with admissions committees. This is the one window they get into your personality, so try to show off the elements of yourself that make you a unique individual and a strong applicant. This can be done by crafting a narrative around an anecdote that highlights or best represents who you are, or just simply telling the story in a manner that reveals your creative voice.
Supplemental Essays - competitive college require supplemental essays that will give them a better sense of why you want to go to their school, and why you want to study the area you plan to pursue. Don’t just say “I want to go to _______ because it’s the best university and I’ve always loved it!” Obviously they know they’re good, and they probably don’t really care that you’ve always loved them. Instead, show off how much you have done your research about the ways in which you and the school are a good fit for each other. That may mean that you are explaining to Columbia how much you want to study with a particular scholar that is unique to its History Department, or indicating to Princeton that you are already considering ways in which you will represent the “Princeton in the nation’s service” motto.
Spend time with all of your essays, and write them early. Plan on giving yourself plenty of time to review what you have written, in order to make sure that what you submit is your very best work. Also be sure to have adults you trust read what you wrote to check for clarity and correctness. Sometimes an additional reader can catch mistakes that would otherwise go unseen.