Can I Reuse the Same Essay On a Different College Application?

Recycle triangle symbol on a green background.

Flickr user Nicolas Raymond

A lot of time and effort goes into crafting an application, as well as studying to improve GPA and ACT / SAT scores to go with it. It also takes time to write a really good college application essay. So wouldn’t it be ideal to reuse one essay on multiple college applications to save time?

It does save you time.

Yes it would save time, and can save time, but only under certain circumstances. See, many colleges will ask for similar questions or essay prompts to include with your application. Who is your biggest hero? Why do you want to attend this college? If you’ve already written an essay that happens to fit with another college’s similar prompt, then it should take you no time at all to spruce it up and submit it. Reusing the same essay is just fine.

You can’t always reuse an essay.

But it won’t work in every case. Some colleges will ask for different prompts, in which case you’ll just have to write another essay to submit. You want to make sure each essay you submit—even if you’re reusing it—is tailor-made for the college you’re applying to. That might mean just a few edits here and there, or it may mean overhauling your essay, or simply writing a new one.

Your essays shouldn’t be generic.

Be wary of submitting something too generic to multiple colleges. You still want to make each one feel personalized. Long story short: Make sure you’re still answering the prompt, and tailor the message/wording of each essay to the college you’re submitting to. It’s ok to reuse an essay if you’re smart about it.

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