Essay Guide: What is a Community Essay?

Does your college application have a question for the essay that looks like this: Tell us about a community you’re a part of?

This is an open-ended question that stumps quite a few students! Some even think the question is asking about the community they’re in – such as their hometown – and don’t consider the other possibilities. While your hometown can definitely be the answer, you’re not at all restricted to that topic. 

Here’s what you need to know about the Community Essay and some tips that will help your application stand out!

What is a Community Essay?

A community essay refers to a college application essay that answers a question similar to “Tell us about a community you’re a part of.” Length can vary but may be dictated by the college you’re applying to. The topic of your piece, however, should be about a community you’re a part of, how you’re a part of it, and/or how it has impacted your life.

What are Examples of Communities?

While your mind may immediately go to your hometown or subdivision when you think of “community,” the word actually encompasses so much more. It can refer to a club, a team you play sports with, your school, your interests, and more! 

Making a list of all the different communities you’re a part of will help you determine which you want to write about.

Tips for Writing The Community Essay

1. Brainstorm

Before any college essay, you should take time to brainstorm what you’re going to write about. What points are you going to try to make in your piece? What is the overarching community you’re going to talk about?

For a good starting point, write down the various communities you’re a part of. Then, under each, list examples of what you can write about. These can be overarching ideas and impacts, specific stories, and more.

2. Stick to One Community

While you may be a part of several different communities depending on your interests, passions, and life in general, your community essay should stick to one of these. Writing about too many, especially under a word limit, can cause your piece to become jumbled and never really reach the point you’re trying to make. And the prompt is really asking you to write about “a community” anyway!

3. Talk About Your Role in the Community

While you can probably talk about what your community does for days, your essay should actually focus on your specific role within it. How does it impact you? How do you impact the group? This is the time to get personal, as the Admissions Department wants to get to know you as a person. You want your essay to highlight your achievements within a specific community or talk about how you overcame a struggle. Build yourself up!

4. Pick a Structure

Of course, you also need to think about how you want to write your essay. Skipping this step could result in several disjointed paragraphs that don’t work well together. Aiming for flow is essential. 

One way to do this is to pick a structure for your community essay. You may want to tell one specific story or event within the community that involved you specifically. Or you may want to take an overarching approach and talk about the community as a whole and your role within it. 

Brainstorm a bit on how you will structure and format your essay so you can make solid points within it!

5. Extra Tip: Consider Not Writing About Sports

While athletics may be a major part of your life, you might want to consider writing about something else. The thing is: a lot of students write about sports and their teams. It’s well known that college admissions departments get tired of reading about the same stories over and over. 

Unless you have an extremely unique sports story, you should write about something else. And even if you think your story is unique, you might want to brainstorm some other ideas before settling on athletics.

A community essay is really an open invitation to write about any group that matters to you! It can be a club, your cultural community, your hometown, your school, or even your family. Brainstorming before you get started will help you find the perfect community to write about!

Want to be sure you have a good chance of getting into your dream school? Our College Match tool will help you identify your admission chances of getting into particular colleges and show you where improvement is needed. An essay is only part of your application! Having a well-rounded career in high school is a must, too. Start here for completely free with College Raptor’s College Match tool.