It’s fun having good news to report on the college front: the Common App essay prompts for the coming season will remain the same as they were this year.
I’m a big fan of these prompts, and once you go through them, I hope you’ll be too.
Why do I like them? Simple. The questions are varied enough and broad enough to spark all kinds of introspection, personal stories, and opportunities for students to reflect on what matters to them. They do not invite “resumé summaries” but inward glances and leaping off points. And though most students are intimidated by having to do these essays, they often find that once they start writing, they have more to say than the 650-word limit permits.
From the Common Application press release: “Based on extensive counselor feedback, the existing essay prompts provide great flexibility for applicants to tell their unique stories in their own voice.”
Take a look at the prompts and see what you think, but don’t feel you should start writing anytime soon (today is March 23rd). You’ve got time. The earliest most students will have to submit essays is November 1st – though please be mindful of earlier submissions! If you finish your essay in April, when you look at it again in October, seven months later, you might feel it no longer captures what you want to convey about yourself.
For the time being, just read them over and see what you think. And remember: you only need to write one essay, not seven.
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.
2. The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
4. 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. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
6. 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?
7. 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.
If you’ve got questions or concerns about the essays or the process of applying to college, please shoot me an email or call: Liz@DontSweatTheEssay.com ~ 1-855-99-ESSAY (East Coast US).