How To Ace Your Covid-19 College Essay

September 26, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic has had far-reaching consequences in all aspects of our lives. Many high schools and colleges are now embracing virtual learning than ever before. 

The pandemic has led to the suspension of extracurricular activities and negatively impacted social lives as students are required to comply with measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

The pandemic has also changed the college admission process. For instance, apart from SAT and ACT score, many schools and college admission boards are emphasizing more on personal statements, letters of recommendation, and supplemental essays.

Granted, students can demonstrate how the coronavirus has affected their learning and social life in a full-length essay or an optional supplement.

The Common App and Coalition App offer students an optional section to discuss the pandemic.

Students can use this optional essay section to share their pandemic experience and lessons learned.

Students are required to be truthful and not limit their essays around their experiences with the pandemic.

We’ll teach you about the Common App and how to answer the Covid-19 college essay question in a moment.

But before that, let’s understand a few things:

Should You Use Your Main Essay to Write About Covid-19?

Due to the way the coronavirus pandemic has affected the lives of millions of people, it can be tempting to use a personal statement to write about the pandemic.

While there is nothing wrong with that- and given how the pandemic has affected different people individually, some admission experts are holding different opinions about whether students should or shouldn’t use the personal statement to write about the pandemic.

Typically, the personal statement should demonstrate what sets you apart from others for you to be given the opportunity.

In short, your personal statement is your selling point.

According to a study by essay help the pandemic has affected over 200 million students worldwide, using your statement to talk about the pandemic could hinder you from differentiating yourself from other eligible applicants.

Besides, admissions officers have already read a lot of essays about the pandemic over the last couple of months.

Therefore, to make your college essay stand out from the crowd, write a unique personal statement that shows something interesting about you.

Nevertheless, there are exceptional instances when you can use your personal statement to write about Covid-19.

For instance, if the pandemic made you learn something new or you used it as an opportunity to gain something valuable in your career, writing about such experiences could greatly benefit your candidacy.

How to Answer the Covid-19 College Essay Prompt on the Common App

The coronavirus is still impacting the admission process several months after it was detected.

That’s why the Common App was introduced to allow students to describe the impact of the pandemic on their lives.

The Common App includes a special 250-word section that allows students to answer the Covid-19 question once then focus on discussing other issues in the rest of the essay.

The new prompt also has a 500-word question for guidance counselors as well.

The Common Application is currently being used by more than one million students each year to apply to member institutions.

The college essay prompt for students on Common App reads as below:

Note: Excerpt taken from the Common App official website.

Community disruptions such as COVID-19 and natural disasters can have deep and long-lasting impacts. If you need it, this space is yours to describe those impacts. Colleges care about the effects on your health and well-being, safety, family circumstances, future plans, and education, including access to reliable technology and quiet study spaces.

Students are required to address the questions below:

  • Do you wish to share anything on this topic? Y/N
  • Please use this space to describe how these events have impacted you.

It’s a 250-word section with an FAQ to help students decide what kinds of impact to talk about.

As stated above, you’re required to discuss the impact of the pandemic on your personal or educational life.

Has your situation been okay?

Even though virtual learning isn’t as good and effective as real school, you probably have adapted, had enough time to do other things, or hung out with your family a little more.

That means that, even though you experienced some unusual situations, there wasn’t too big of a change.

The pandemic has impacted your life negatively

The pandemic could have turned your life upside down.

For instance, some families have been through stressful situations and hardships and are still unsure how things will work out.

The impact was very positive 

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted millions of people worldwide. Nevertheless, some students were inspired to start a new course or even a project.

The pandemic has also changed the way people think about the future.

You’ll need to choose an experience that suits you.

Granted, if the pandemic hasn’t changed your life too much, you may skip the section.

However, if your life was impacted negatively or positively, write about the experience.

How to Use the 250-Word Section to Write About Coronavirus 

Here are two options to help you learn how to use this section to write about Covid-19.

Go straight to the point

The first option is to talk about challenges you faced and their impact on you then what you did about the challenges as well as lessons learned.

This applies to whether you faced (or didn’t face) significant challenges.

Be creative with your response

Apart from going straight to the point, you could use a slightly more creative approach.

This could help to grab the attention of the admissions officer.

Use the first sentence only and don’t spend too much on this then go direct to the point.

You could be creative with the intro, hooking the admissions officer with some intriguing statements.

Tips to Write Your COVID-19 Essay (General Tips for Students)

The Covid-19 essay provides students with a great opportunity to demonstrate how the pandemic has impacted their personal and educational lives.

That means that before you start writing your essay, you should think about how the pandemic has affected you; and whether your experience is worth sharing with admissions officers.

You can skip this section if you feel that your experience isn’t worth discussing in your essay.

Remember that you’re required to be truthful. Don’t try to make yourself appear too genuine when you aren’t. 

This section is purposely set to make the admissions officers understand your experiences better.

Here are a few tips to guide you when writing your Covid-19 college essay:

Outline an outstanding experience you have with the pandemic 

Students have had different experiences with the pandemic.

For instance, as different countries are putting their citizens on lockdown, some students have found themselves crammed in small homes with their families that they don’t get the freedom to concentrate on their studies.

Some students have to stay with their younger siblings during the day.

Some students struggle with lack of access to reliable internet and some don’t have smart devices hence making it difficult for them to participate in online learning.

Talking about situations like these could give your Covid-19 essay the edge over the other applicants.

It’s about you

The pandemic has affected everyone across the world. Nevertheless, your college essay is about the impact the pandemic has had on you. It’s not about your family, friends, or the community you live in.

You could discuss the impact of struggling with the isolation of quarantine.

Some students used to spend their free time having fun with friends but due to the isolation of quarantine, they are forced to stay indoors which could lead to emotional torture.

Make an interesting story about the impact of the pandemic

Your Covid-19 college essay should provide the admissions officers with your daily life.

You need to provide specific details about your experiences with coronavirus to help create a live story.

For instance, instead of talking about the trauma you experienced seeing your friend or family member get infected with the virus, you could get specific as possible to paint a picture of how they were diagnosed with the virus to the way they were hospitalized.

You could also talk about the approach or steps you took after the experience.

Some students opted to use their savings to buy face masks and distribute them to neighbors who couldn’t afford to buy them.

Keep it brief and authentic 

According to Johansen Rudolf, a professional college essay writer who is also the author of the thesis writing service  article, the Covid-19 college essay should be brief so you don’t want to include irrelevant information.

It’s not a competition of who had the worst experience with the pandemic so you should be truthful about your situation.

You’re required to address the prompt and tell the admissions officer what you’ll be dwelling on in the essay.

Demonstrate how you dealt with or overcame the situation

You should try as much as you can to show the admissions officer your creative skills.

Having talked about the experience you had with the pandemic, you’ll need to discuss how you dealt with or overcame the challenges.

You could discuss how struggling with the isolation of quarantine helped you learn the importance of maintaining good mental health, or how it made you learn how to help other students struggling with anxiety or depression.

This will help the admissions officer to know your ability to navigate around a difficult situation and help others as well.

Should You Answer the Covid-19 Question on the Common App?

It’s worth noting that admissions officers have faced the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

For that reason, you should avoid discussing things they already know.

For instance, admissions committee is already cognizant of the fact that many schools have switched to virtual classes and SAT and ACT tests have been suspended.

Therefore, it’d be a waste of time to talk about challenges encountered by almost every school or student.

Typically, you should talk about challenges that impacted your grades negatively after the shift to online learning.

Or your AP exam scores dropped due to lack of face to face guidelines.

In fact, if the covid-19 disruptions affected your grades or test scores, talk about that in this section.

And if you got high scores on your AP exam tests, you can skip that unless you want to share something unique about yourself.

The pandemic could have affected you in a personal way- for instance, you could have lost a family member, job or you struggled with anxiety as a result of the pandemic.

Use this section to talk about your experience.

Tips for Writing Your Covid-19 College Essay

 If you have been following us this far, then congratulations because we’re almost nearing the end of this topic.

As stated earlier, the Covid-19 essay section is 250-word long.

That means that you should talk about things that matter concerning your experience with the pandemic.

You shouldn’t talk about difficult and complete individual story.

Here are tips to help you ace your Covid-19 college essay:

Open your essay with evidence

Unlike other essays, you should start your Covid-19 essay with a fictional opening.

You shouldn’t also waste your time introducing coronavirus or explaining how the pandemic has impacted the lives of people- of course, almost everyone knows this.

Did you lose a job or a loved one due to the pandemic?

Were you involved in taking care of your younger family members?

Get to the point right away and avoid beating around the bush.

Describe how the experience impacted you

Unless the death or job loss of you or your family impacted you, you should waste this space talking about something that doesn’t matter.

Perhaps that loss of your friend got you into a stressful situation or your job loss brought your whole life to a standstill.

Describe the outcome of these events and their impact in your daily life.

The last piece of advice we’d want you to put in mind is that you shouldn’t start your Covid-19 essay without a plan.

Start your writing by creating an outline to help you organize your thoughts and simplify the writing process.

What to Avoid in You Covid-19 College Essay

As with every essay, you’re required to pay attention to the tone and word choice when writing your Covid-19 essay.

While the pandemic has affected almost every student, some students have had serious consequences than others.

For instance, the switch to online classes could have affected students with a lack of good internet access. While for other students, this isn’t a serious consequence to talk about.

Each word used in this section should be strategic and impactful.

Don’t waste this space talking about how the pandemic made it difficult for you to eat out or go to the beach with friends.

Avoid writing about challenges faced by every student or introducing the nature of the pandemic because admissions officers are already feeling its impact.

Covid-19 Essay Prompt for School Counselors 

Applicants are required to be aware of the Covid-19 questions on the Common App for school counselors as well- including how their counselors answer these questions. 

Here is the essay theme for counselors as stated on the Common App official website

Your school may have made adjustments due to community disruptions such as COVID–19 or natural disasters. If you have not already addressed those changes in your uploaded school profile or elsewhere, you can elaborate here. Colleges are especially interested in understanding changes to:

  • Grading scales and policies
  • Graduation requirements
  • Instructional methods
  • Schedules and course offerings
  • Testing requirements
  • Your academic calendar
  • Other extenuating circumstances”

Your counselor is required to respond to this question in not more or less than 500 words.

They can choose to give a detailed response to this question or direct admissions officers to a link with the information- a web page URL or school profile.

The Counselor Question on the Common Application

Students are required to seek complete information from their counselors during the 2021 academic year.

Counselors can write their descriptions or get a general statement crafted by guidance departments.

How to Stand Out Writing About Covid-19

One thing that sets aside amazing college essays from boring ones is that the former is based on a unique topic while the latter is based on a topic that’s picked by many other students and uses a common language.

In other words, boring essays describe a topic that almost every student is describing.

To write a stand-out coronavirus essay, describe an uncommon topic that has uncommon connections, and uses an uncommon language. 

Of course, Covid-19 or coronavirus is a common topic.

Nevertheless, there are many ways to make your essay stand out from the rest of the applicants- by including some uncommon connections.

This is how to achieve it:

Brainstorm things that most students are likely to write about.

For instance, “I spent most of my quarantine time looking after my younger siblings”

This is just one example- you can brainstorm as many as you can.

Then try to brainstorm how to make uncommon connections then use your brain to invoke some creativity to make your essay stand out from the other applications. 

Describe the Pandemic Using Narrative Structure

Undoubtedly, Covid-19 is a common topic currently.

However, you can still write a stand-out Covid-19 college essay.

Start your essay describing the challenges and their impact on you then go straight to describe what you did about the challenges and how they shaped your thoughts, perception, and daily life.

If Your College Doesn’t Use the Common App

If your college doesn’t use the Common App and doesn’t have a dedicated space that allows you to talk about Covid-19, the writing process can get a little trickier.

As a rule, you should focus on talking about your experience if it truly is unique and demonstrate your feelings and approach as an individual.

Otherwise, avoid experiences that are too similar to other students.

For instance, if you choose to write about coronavirus in your personal statement, you should describe something distinctive about yourself.

How to Address the Pandemic in Your College Application

You could also opt to describe your pandemic experience in the college application.

These tips should help you:

  • Use the 250-word Covid-19 section to describe your experience with the pandemic.
  • Use the Additional Information section.
  • Or use the 650-word personal statement to talk about the pandemic.

Note that if talk about coronavirus in your personal statement, then you can’t use this section to write anything else. 

But if you describe the pandemic in the Covid-19 section (250- word section) you can talk about whatever you want in your personal statement.

Final Thoughts

Covid-19 has serious consequences on all sectors of life; the education sector being one of them.

Schools have switched to virtual learning, extracurricular activities have been suspended, and many other changes have happened.

The new Common App has added a 250-word optional section that allows students to describe their experience with the pandemic.

Students are required to demonstrate how the pandemic has changed the way they learn, any challenges faced, how students have been able to navigate around these challenges, and lessons learned.

We hope this article will help you ace your Covid-19 college essay.

Good luck!

Author Bio

Charlie Svensson is a fast, engaging freelance writer with 2 years experience. Skilled in content writing and blogging. The favorite topics of his posts are education, marketing, SEO, social media, and self-growth. Great set of skills to reach diverse audiences.

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