So take a peek at what the application has in store for you, absorb what these prompts are really asking, and then forget about them really! PROMPT 1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. What about your history, personality, hobbies, or accomplishments might be worth highlighting for an admissions officer?
It can be something as small as seeing an episode of a television show are you living life in the Upside Down? Some questions to ask yourself as you brainstorm: What about my history or background sets me apart from my peers?
How do I define myself? How do the people who are closest to me define me? What have I achieved that has been integral in molding my character and ambitions? What, in my seventeen years on this earth, has helped shape the person I am today? Does your crazy, dyed-blue hair define you? Did going to a Picasso exhibit inspire you to start an art collection that has since expanded beyond the borders of your bedroom?
What are the challenges and rewards of having same-sex parents? Or of being raised by your siblings? Or of being part of a family made up of stepsisters and stepbrothers? Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure.
How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? We have always believed that essays about overcoming obstacles are most effective when they focus more on solutions than problems.
Applicants should aim to showcase qualities like resilience, determination, and humility. The obstacles you choose to explore can vary widely in nature, especially with the recent additions that allow students to explore challenges and setbacks in addition to failures. They can be as serious as being tormented by bullies, as ingrained as the financial issues that have plagued your family for years, or as seemingly pedestrian as a mistake that costs you a tip while waiting tables.
Still, if you can isolate an incident of trial in your life and illustrate how you learned from it, this can be a rewarding prompt to explore. Some key questions to consider: How do you deal with hardship? What qualifies as a challenge or setback in your life and world?
Are you the kind of person who can rebound and turn every experience, good or bad, into one from which you can learn something? What experiences might illustrate this quality? And was there a silver lining? And a few examples to think about: Has a lifelong battle with stuttering ultimately increased your overall confidence and allowed you to participate in social activities and public forums without self-judgment?
Did a series of setbacks on your road to becoming a child actor introduce you to screenwriting, your professional goal and biggest passion? Did your failure to follow directions lead you to a botched home science experiment root beer explosion!
Overall, try to keep these stories as positive as possible. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? This prompt requires a student to speak passionately about beliefs and ideology, which are often onerous subjects that can be difficult to mold into compact stories.
It can be one of the hardest questions to steer in a positive, productive direction without traveling into preachy, overly didactic territory. This is also a more precarious prompt than most in that students need to carefully assess the risks of espousing beliefs that might be polarizing for the readers of their applications. Applicants who can articulate their thoughts and feelings while showcasing malleability and willingness to thoughtfully consider the ideas of others will likely stand out as valuable additions to any campus.
However, the first six topics are extremely broad with a lot of flexibility, so make sure your topic really can't be identified with one of them. Also, don't equate "topic of your choice" with a license to write a comedy routine or poem you can submit such things via the "Additional Info" option. Essays written for this prompt still need to have substance and tell your reader something about you. Cleverness is fine, but don't be clever at the expense of meaningful content. What do you value?
What has made you grow as a person? What makes you the unique individual the admissions folks will want to invite to join their campus community? The best essays spend significant time with self-analysis rather than merely describing a place or event. The folks at The Common Application have cast a wide net with these questions, and nearly anything you want to write about could fit under at least one of the options. If your essay could fit under more than one option, it really doesn't matter which one you choose.
Many admissions officers, in fact, don't even look at which prompt you chose—they just want to see that you have written a good essay. The essay or essays is a great way to learn more about an applicant, her motivations, life experiences, and how she can contribute to the campus community. The essay is important because it gives students the chance to showcase their writing and tell the college something new. It also allows admissions officers to learn more about students and gain insight into their experiences that other parts of the application do not provide.
Over colleges and universities use the Common Application , which has one required essay, called the personal statement. There are five new prompts to choose from, and this essay can be used for multiple colleges.
Related: Why I Love the New Common Application Essay Prompts Beyond the Common Application essay, many colleges also have supplements that ask additional, university-specific questions which applicants must respond to with shorter-form essays.
While topics vary from supplement to supplement, there are a few standard essay formats that many colleges use: Personal Statement This is the most common essay and is used for the main Common Application essay. In this essay, the applicant talks about a meaningful life experience that helped shape who she is today. In this essay, students need to be detailed and offer specific examples for wanting to attend this school.
Find this year's Common App writing prompts and popular essay questions used by individual colleges. The college essay is your opportunity to show admissions officers who you are apart from your grades and test scores and to distinguish yourself from the rest of a very talented applicant pool.
If you are using the Common App to apply for college admission in , you will have — words to respond to ONE of the following prompts: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma—anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time.
Why does it captivate you? What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Share an essay on any topic of your choice. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. Admissions officers want to feel connected to you and an honest, personal statement about who you are draws them in.
Be careful to avoid the "hero" essay—admissions offices are often overrun with essays about the season-winning touchdown or brilliant performance in the school play see the list of bad essay topics for more about this issue. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve.
For example, if you care deeply about drug education because of a past experience with a friend or family member, you could outline a plan to bring young-adult speakers to your school to positively influence your peers and stress the real dangers of drugs. Did a summer-long role as the U. The answer to the final question about the "outcome" of your challenge need not be a success story.
Focus on yourself: Choose someone who has actually caused you to change your behavior or your worldview, and write about how this person influenced you. One important thing to note: the topic of identity can easily lack originality if you cover a common experience such as feeling divided between cultures, or coming out. Now that you have read our handy-dandy prompt guide and understand what admissions is looking for from these prompts, you could very well have a notebook filled with ideas that are ripe for expansion by the time you sit down to write.