Are you curious about the essay prompts you might come across while looking at your college applications? In this article, we’ll offer you some valuable information on everything from The Common Application to the applications required by independent educational institutions.
Your college application paper constitutes your best shot at showcasing your personality. In this essay, you can demonstrate that you are so much more than just your grades and test results! If you do it right, you can truly stand out as an extraordinarily gifted candidate!
2017-18 Common Application Topics
The Common Application is called so because it is accepted by over 700 universities. As such, it’s quite handy to apply to numerous institutions with a single college essay. In case you plan on utilizing the Common Application to get accepted into a university in 2017, you’ll be required to answer to ONE of the prompts listed below. Your essay must have no less than 250 and no more than 650 words.
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.
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?
Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. 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. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
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.
How to Approach the Common Application Essay Prompts
Account your own story.
Respond to this prompt by talking about your greatest passion, an aspect of your individuality, or a situation that is truly distinctive and relevant to you as a person. Admission board members wish to sense a connection with the candidate. The best way to entice them is to provide a sincere, individualized assertion regarding your personality. Your favorite movie, your passion for cooking or your family background are all acceptable topics, provided that you are able to connect your chosen topic to your personality or beliefs. Steer clear of reiterating the achievements you’ve included in your resume! Instead, opt for a story that the admission officer will not encounter in the rest of your college application.
Drawing lessons from impediments.
Your goal here is to showcase your best attributes. Therefore, you might be inclined to believe that voluntarily admitting to encountering obstacles is not such a good idea. Nevertheless, prevailing over obstacles represents a proof of bravery, strong character, and tenacity, the reason for which the last section of this prompt is of pivotal importance! Regardless of the amplitude of the impediment you talk about, you need to illustrate the manner in which your viewpoints evolved as an outcome.
Questioning a conviction.
When responding to this essay prompt, you could concentrate on a situation in which you stayed true to your convictions in spite of what other people told you. Alternatively, you could talk about a situation in which your own biased perspective was questioned. You shouldn’t opt for this prompt unless you’ve truly experienced a pertinent – and particular! – situation that can be presented (and analyzed). If you write an ambiguous paper on a controversial topic, the admission board won’t find out anything relevant about your personality!
Fixing an issue.
This college essay prompt has the purpose of revealing your way of thinking as well as the aspects that make you tick. Describe a problem or predicament and talk about what can be done to solve it. Admission board members hope to learn about your judgment abilities and the challenges you face. Therefore, you should describe the way in which you identified the issue and the solutions you approached. Keep in mind that you also need to present the reasons for which you regard the issue as significant!
Similarly to the second college essay prompt, the achievement or situation you approach may range from a crucial event to a smaller revelation. You need to present the situation or achievement that changed you. However, keep in mind that you must also demonstrate the precise lessons you drew or the manner in which you evolved. Universities are on the lookout for individuals who are responsible and introspective. Thus, you need to pin down the change and prove your individual development.
Something that engages you.
The sixth college essay prompt encourages you to talk about something you are truly interested in. Don’t fall into the trap of tackling a subject that you believe will make an impression on the admission board! Instead, write about something that you genuinely care about! Universities hope to find inquisitive students for whom the surrounding world matters. The last question included in the prompt doesn’t constitute an afterthought. Quite the opposite, it represents a pivotal section of the prompt. You must not omit to describe the manner in which you pursue your passion.
A subject of your preference.
It might be wise to choose this prompt if you’ve written a top-notch personal essay in high school or if you were truly fascinated with a topic you’ve encountered in another university’s application. Another way to approach the seventh prompt is by devising your own topic! Regardless of the particular subject you choose, you must still consider the fundamental targets of any college essay: 1) Demonstrate to the admission board that your personality expands beyond your academic results and 2) Research your subject by asking the following questions: how and why. Since you won’t be helped by a prompt here, you need to pose the right questions to uncover the essence of the story you wish to account.
Additional College Application Essay Subjects
Every so often, individual educational institutions demand additional papers. To help you out, we’ve listed out a couple of popular college essay subjects. Moreover, we’ve included some advice on how to tackle these topics.
Talk about an individual you respect.
Don’t give in to your impulse of praising a renowned historical personality such as George Washington or Gandhi. The admission officer who’ll read your essay is already well-aware of the reputation of such figures. Concentrate on your own personality: talk about a person who has truly influenced your conduct or your perspectives. Moreover, you should describe the manner in which this individual has shaped your personality.
Why do you wish to be admitted into this institution?
As you answer this question, you should try to be as sincere and particular as possible. Steer clear of general statements such as “for the purpose of getting a great education” or “in order to gain professional abilities." Utilize details that showcase your passion. For example: “Becoming a doctor has always been my dream, and your medicine department is highly reputable.” Universities tend to be fonder of candidates who are able to express eloquent motives for which they believe the college is a great choice for their future education, besides its fame or position. To learn more about study programs, teachers and other interesting facts about the college you wish to apply to, take a look at their official websites.
What is your favorite book?
Do not respond by drafting a book report! Your paper needs to include more than a mere synopsis of the story. Discuss the aspects that made you love this specific book. Talk about the meaning this book has for you. What does it divulge about your personality? In what way do you relate to it? How is it linked to you as a person?
Here we need to remind you to be sincere when responding to this question! Avoid opting for a classic book or a philosophical novel just because you believe it will put you in a better light. Drafting a cursive and passionate paper on a book that has a meaning for you is undoubtedly preferable to writing a dull essay about a book you couldn't care less about.
Talk about an extracurricular activity that has meant something to you.
Steer clear of platitudes or general statements. Use this topic to truly analyze a situation that taught you a valuable lesson about you as a person, encouraged you to step out of your comfort zone or stimulated your personal development. In some cases, it’s preferable to talk about a challenging experience because you drew a lesson from it, rather than approaching a situation that you faced with ease because you believe it makes you seem praiseworthy. First and foremost, you need to account an engaging story. Mention how you got involved in this activity, what rendered it attractive to you and what it has taught you about your personality.