Even more daunting than the thought of producing that 500-word college essay, which is a component of most college applications, is often the idea of creating a new essay for each school. However, because many schools subscribe to the Common Application, students often need only to produce a single essay which can be sent to many schools.

Common Application Members

There are more than 475 Common Application members and they include schools in 46 states and six countries. Students applying to member schools fill out a single application, which is then forwarded to selected schools. While Common Application essay prompts vary from year to year, students can be expected to write essays on topics such as personal heroes, significant achievements. ethical dilemmas. political or social causes about which they are passionate, characters or literary works which have particular meaning to them or some impactful personal event or experience. The same essay is forward to all selected colleges.


For colleges which are not Common Application members, students may need to write a separate essay, specific to the institution. Some colleges which do not use the Common Application are Georgetown University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Purdue and Rutgers.


Common Application members may require supplements which include essays. These essays are generally, but not always, shorter and are specific to the institution. They may, for example, ask a student to reflect on his or her fit to their college and its mission.