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Essay Information

Most college applications require writing - either writing essays or answering questions.

It is important to use writing opportunities to tell your colleges things about you that they won't find elsewhere in your applicaton.

University of California Personal Insight Questions:

The University of California schools provide eight Personal Insight Questions and ask that applicants answer four of them. You'll find more information about what the PIQs are here:

Another highly recommended resource is Ethan Sawyer - The College Essay Guy. Here's his take on the PIQs:

Common Application Essays

The Common Application, which more than 1,000 schools use, offers seven essay prompts. Students are asked to pick one prompt and write an essay of no more than 650 words. 


The Common Application Essay Prompts for 2023-2024:

There are many resources to help students who need guidance in writing their Common Application essays.

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Advice from The College Essay Guy on writing Essays for the Common App:

Supplemental Essays: 

Many Common App schools also require answers to additional questions that are specific to their school.

These supplements are important!

Often, one of the supplemental question is the "Why Us" question. The schools want to learn why a student wants to attend their college and what they hope to take advantage of while there. 
They should be a well-researched love letter to the college. Tell them what you love about the school - but not something shallow It should be something specific to the school. The student needs to do the research - dig into the school's website, understand the academic offerings that are available, and make a strong case why they are a great fit and would be an asset to the college.

The College Essay Guy - Why This College Essay Guide + Examples

The College Essay Guy - Supplemental Essay Guides​

Previous Essay Presentations:

Essay Presentation by Southern Methodist University Admissions Representative, Rick Diaz

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