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Tips for Common Application Option 1

The first essay of the Common Application asks you to share your story.

Here is the topic for the essay.

‘Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.’

This is a popular option with several students. After all, who doesn’t have a ‘story’ to tell?

All of us have had certain experiences that played a crucial role in shaping our personality and identity. What’s more, elements like test scores, grades and awards and activities do not reveal your actual personality. Of course, these are important aspects of our life, but they don’t make us the unique individuals that we are.

If you decide to answer this prompt, you should spend some time thinking about what it really is.

This prompt allows you to write about anything you want. What’s more, since the words story and background are vague, you can approach this prompt however you want.

However, some students think that anything goes with Option 1. This is a mistake. The background story that you want to narrate should be ‘central to your identity’. What’s more, it should complete your application.

As you explore different ways to approach this prompt, you need to keep these points in mind.

Before you start writing, think about what it is that makes you what you are. Is there anything that has profoundly influenced the way you think or behave? For example, if you were raised in a military family, that background will definitely have played a significant role in shaping your personality. Be honest and tell a story that is real. If you write a story that hundreds of other applicants may also write, you fail to explore the question of identity.

You also need to remember that your ‘background’ is not made up of a single event. So, for example, being voted Prom Queen may be an important achievement for you, but it does not help form your identity.