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Academic & Application Essay FAQs

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about college essays

and applications.

How can I make school writing assignments easier to do?


Follow these steps in the order they are presented to alleviate the stress of academic writing:

Prewriting: Review the writing assignment requirements and make sure you understand what you are writing about; select your topic; start your first round of research, keeping an open mind to what you learn so you formulate an effective thesis; take general notes and keep track of sources you reference to use for more in-depth research later (make sure there are enough sources available on this topic); draft a working thesis and make sure it aligns with the assignment and purpose; and create a loose outline of your main points that will support your thesis (all of your main points must relate back to your thesis).

Writing: Compose your first draft with a very basic introduction to your thesis for now (you can rewrite it later as your paper takes shape); continue to keep track of all sources as you go; write the body paragraphs (all material must support the introductory paragraph’s thesis); conduct further, more detailed research to support your thesis (jot down facts, statistics, data, direct quotations, presented ideas, and supporting information); and focus on content, your main points, and incorporating your sources in the body paragraphs—do not worry about grammar, usage, punctuation, and word choice (save this for the rewriting phase).

Rewriting: Rewrite your introduction and write your conclusion; revise your draft and read over your content for accuracy and to make sure it supports your thesis; double check that your writing is focused and on topic; ensure you have properly cited the sources you have referenced; review your formatting for compliance with citation requirements; compose your works cited page or bibliography; proofread to check your grammar, usage, punctuation, word choice, organization, sentence structure, and spelling; and finally, have someone else review your paper with a fresh set of eyes.

What are the common application and the Coalition for College?


The Common Application and the Coalition for College are online undergraduate applications with hundreds of participating colleges and universities, making it easier for first-time and transfer college students to apply to multiple schools without having to complete separate applications.

The Common Application came along first— in 1975—and is accepted by 800-plus colleges and universities across the U.S. and several other countries. The Coalition application launched in 2016 and is accepted by far fewer schools—around 140 institutions to date—which can mean filling out more applications than if using The Common Application platform. However, schools on the Coalition application platform have to comply with certain criteria intended to provide underrepresented high schoolers with access to college education (such as a 10% underrepresented or minority student population, national student loan debt of less than $30,000, a loan default rate of 15% maximum, and a minimum graduation rate of 60%).

While both applications are mobile-friendly, only The Common Application has a mobile application and can send out alerts for deadline reminders. Both platforms have essay components and provide virtual counseling services. While users can save their entries in The Common Application and the Coalition application, only the Coalition application allows long-term storage, allowing younger students to get a jump start on their essay and other documents. The Common Application requires students to roll over information entered before August 1st of their senior year of high school to preserve it as part of their application.

What do colleges look for in an application essay?


Many applicants make the mistake of writing too much about the experience they are sharing and not enough about how it impacted their lives in the present and future (past, present, and future progression). The purpose of the essay is not to reiterate information already included on transcripts or applications, but rather to shed light on the applicant as a dynamic, interesting change agent who has the potential to make a difference on campus and in society.


Colleges want to see your lesson learned, how you handle life’s challenges, how you have evolved, and how you might positively impact their institution. The essay should focus on one moment in time or one story and its outcome; it should not be a long list of accomplishments or achievements. They are looking for critical analysis, contemplation, reflection, personal growth, and perspective.

How do clients benefit from a one-on-one consultation with a professional writing consultant?


At the in-person, phone, or Zoom consultation (free with certain services), clients benefit from presenting their questions and concerns. We provide detailed responses and discuss the effective strategies we will implement to achieve your goals. We also share the knowledge and expertise we have cultivated through industry research and years of experience. Meeting one-on-one allows for candid communication; we can ask the appropriate questions that, in turn, will generate comprehensive information. Clients learn what we propose to do to get the job done as effectively as possible and why we make these choices.


In addition, it is nice to know who you are hiring and working with! With All About Writing, clients are never rushed or made to feel like anything less than our top priority. We can achieve the same thoroughness and clarity over the phone or through Zoom, at the client’s convenience.

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