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. If this prompt jumps out at you because you have a very specific story to tell or opinion to voice, run with it! Your essay does not have to be focused around a fundamentally serious or groundbreaking issue see the horror genre example above. What matters most when responding to this prompt is that you have strong convictions about the belief or idea you are trying to convey, and that you examine the personal effects of this ethos on your life and world.
For this reason, Prompt 3 can be a great vehicle for showcasing your consideration, persuasive skills, and passions to admissions. We love Prompt 4, which asks students to talk about a time when they felt gratitude. So many of the Common App prompts set students up to talk about what they do for others. Just as important, however, is how applicants react and respond when they are the recipients of something meaningful themselves. Gratitude is quickly becoming a quality individuals are encouraged to connect to and reflect on regularly, hence the popularity of gratitude journals and exercises.
Brainstorming method alert! Students should think about times when they have felt acknowledged, heard, and seen. Moments when they have felt that swelling in their chest, as their heart grows three sizes. Think creatively about what you appreciate in your life. It can be a physical gift, an action, or even just a set of feelings projected in your direction. You can be intimately familiar with the person who has inspired your gratitude, or reflect on the actions of a near stranger or even a public figure who has impacted your life for the better.
Just remember that this essay needs to focus on how you process, appreciate and draw inspiration from the action of others, so make sure your response is focused on YOU. Ultimately, admissions wants to know more about how you relate to others in the world, and how you repurpose good intentions.
The whole purpose of this exercise is to reveal something valuable about yourself to admissions, so be sure to link the act of kindness you highlight to your passions, actions, or aspirations. There are a few things to note when unpacking this prompt. A formal event or accomplishment might include anything from obvious landmarks like birthdays or weddings to achievements like earning an award or receiving a promotion. More informal examples might include something as simple as meeting a special person in your life, taking a car ride, or eating a particularly meaningful meal.
We have often found that smaller, less formal events make for more surprising and memorable essays; but as with any of the other prompts, as long as you can answer with originality and put a unique twist on your subject matter, all ideas are fair game. The most important things to keep in mind when searching for these moments are the elements of growth, understanding, and transformation. The event, accomplishment, or realization you discuss should be something that helped you understand the world around you through a different, more mature lens.
One could argue that college is largely about the pursuit of knowledge, so you can imagine it would be quite appealing for an admissions officer to have a meter for your level of self-motivated learning, along with a better understanding of how and why you choose to pay attention to the things that intrigue you. This is a window into your brain: how you process information, how you seek out new sources of content and inspiration. How resourceful are you when your curiosity is piqued to the fullest?
The answer to this prompt should also reveal something to admissions about the breadth or depth of your interests. How consumed are you by this passion you are choosing to pursue academically? Show your feathers. Let your freak flag fly within reason, obvs. This prompt is about the pursuit of knowledge and your desire to proactively challenge yourself. Whether you are devouring the classics on your Kindle or nerding out over the perfect cheese for calzone-making, your attachment to a subject may inspire admissions to want to learn more about it…and you.
Feared by some, coveted by others, and legendary in its existence; regardless of where you stand on the issue, this was a newsworthy addition to the Common App prompt choices. For years, students have been treating Prompt 1 which asks about your background, etc.
Applicants around the world likely let out a big exhale when they saw they could still serve up a big scoop of Prompt 7 to admissions in previous seasons. And this year will be no different. If that is the case, fear not! Use some of the other prompts as starting points for your brainstorming and free writing journeys.
Begin keeping a diary now! 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. Trying to tailor your essay to a more specific prompt option may inspire an interesting spin on the story you are trying to tell—one you may not have thought of otherwise.
Finally, I played the ace of spades from the dummy and the rest of my clubs, securing the contract and points when my partner ruffed at trick five. Next board. The winning team would be selected to represent the United States in the world championship and my team was still in the running. Contract bridge is a strategic and stochastic card game.
Players from around the world gather at local clubs, regional events, and, in this case, national tournaments. Going into the tournament, my team was excited; all the hours we had put into the game, from the lengthy midnight Skype sessions spent discussing boards to the coffee shop meetings spent memorizing conventions together, were about to pay off.
Halfway through, our spirits were still high, as we were only down by fourteen international match points which, out of the final total of about four hundred points, was virtually nothing and it was very feasible to catch up. Our excitement was short-lived, however, as sixty boards later, we found that we had lost the match and would not be chosen as the national team.
Initially, we were devastated. We had come so close and it seemed as if all the hours we had devoted to training had been utterly wasted. I chatted with the winning team and even befriended a few of them who offered us encouragement and advice. They teach me the importance of sportsmanship and forgiveness.
I greet the legally blind man who can defeat most of the seeing players. He reminds me not to make excuses. I chat with the friendly, elderly couple who, at ages ninety and ninety-two, have just gotten married two weeks ago. They show me that there is more than one path to success.
I congratulate the little kid running to his dad, excited to have won his very first masterpoints. He reminds me of the thrill of every first time and to never stop trying new things. Just as much as I have benefitted from these life lessons, I aspire to give back to my bridge community as much as it has given me.
I aspire to teach people how to play this complicated yet equally as exciting game. I aspire to never stop improving myself, both at and away from the bridge table. Bridge has given me my roots and dared me to dream. What started as merely a hobby has become a community, a passion, a part of my identity. I aspire to live selflessly and help others reach their goals. I seek to take risks, embrace all results, even failure, and live unfettered from my own doubt.
This is because they see a lot of well-rounded and specialized students, so students with contrast profiles offer something refreshingly unique. When I was younger, I was adamant that no two foods on my plate touch. As a result, I often used a second plate to prevent such an atrocity. In many ways, I learned to separate different things this way from my older brothers, Nate and Rob.
Growing up, I idolized both of them. Nate was a performer, and I insisted on arriving early to his shows to secure front row seats, refusing to budge during intermission for fear of missing anything. Rob was a three-sport athlete, and I attended his games religiously, waving worn-out foam cougar paws and cheering until my voice was hoarse.
My brothers were my role models. To me, they represented two contrasting ideals of what I could become: artist or athlete. I believed I had to choose. And for a long time, I chose athlete. I played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse and viewed myself exclusively as an athlete, believing the arts were not for me.
I conveniently overlooked that since the age of five, I had been composing stories for my family for Christmas, gifts that were as much for me as them, as I loved writing. So when in tenth grade, I had the option of taking a creative writing class, I was faced with a question: could I be an athlete and a writer? After much debate, I enrolled in the class, feeling both apprehensive and excited.
When I arrived on the first day of school, my teacher, Ms. Jenkins, asked us to write down our expectations for the class. I just want this to be a place where I can write freely. For the first two submission days, I had passed the time editing earlier pieces, eventually pretty quickly resorting to screen snake when hopelessness made the words look like hieroglyphics.
I must not have been as subtle as I thought, as on the third of these days, Ms. Jenkins approached me. After shifting from excuse to excuse as to why I did not submit my writing, I finally recognized the real reason I had withheld my work: I was scared. I yielded to Ms. By the time the letter came, I had already forgotten about the contest.
When the flimsy white envelope arrived in the mail, I was shocked and ecstatic to learn that I had received 2nd place in a nationwide writing competition. The next morning, however, I discovered Ms. Jenkins would make an announcement to the whole school exposing me as a poet. I have since seen more boys at my school identifying themselves as writers or artists.
I no longer see myself as an athlete and a poet independently, but rather I see these two aspects forming a single inseparable identity — me. Despite their apparent differences, these two disciplines are quite similar, as each requires creativity and devotion. I am still a poet when I am lacing up my cleats for soccer practice and still an athlete when I am building metaphors in the back of my mind — and I have realized ice cream and gummy bears taste pretty good together.
Writing an essay on a seemingly mundane moment is unexpected, so that should grab the attention of the reader in almost a backwards way. From there, you can use that moment as an avenue to discuss important elements of your identity. Was I no longer the beloved daughter of nature, whisperer of trees?
Knee-high rubber boots, camouflage, bug spray—I wore the garb and perfume of a proud wild woman, yet there I was, hunched over the pathetic pile of stubborn sticks, utterly stumped, on the verge of tears. As a child, I had considered myself a kind of rustic princess, a cradler of spiders and centipedes, who was serenaded by mourning doves and chickadees, who could glide through tick-infested meadows and emerge Lyme-free. I knew the cracks of the earth like the scars on my own rough palms.
Yet here I was, ten years later, incapable of performing the most fundamental outdoor task: I could not, for the life of me, start a fire. Furiously I rubbed the twigs together—rubbed and rubbed until shreds of skin flaked from my fingers. No smoke. The twigs were too young, too sticky-green; I tossed them away with a shower of curses, and began tearing through the underbrush in search of a more flammable collection.
My efforts were fruitless. Livid, I bit a rejected twig, determined to prove that the forest had spurned me, offering only young, wet bones that would never burn. But the wood cracked like carrots between my teeth—old, brittle, and bitter. Roaring and nursing my aching palms, I retreated to the tent, where I sulked and awaited the jeers of my family. Rattling their empty worm cans and reeking of fat fish, my brother and cousins swaggered into the campsite. Immediately, they noticed the minor stick massacre by the fire pit and called to me, their deep voices already sharp with contempt.
My face burned long after I left the fire pit. The camp stank of salmon and shame. In the tent, I pondered my failure. Was I so dainty? Was I that incapable? I thought of my hands, how calloused and capable they had been, how tender and smooth they had become. Crawling along the edge of the tent, a spider confirmed my transformation—he disgusted me, and I felt an overwhelming urge to squash him.
I still eagerly explored new worlds, but through poems and prose rather than pastures and puddles. That night, I stayed up late with my journal and wrote about the spider I had decided not to kill. When the night grew cold and the embers died, my words still smoked—my hands burned from all that scrawling—and even when I fell asleep, the ideas kept sparking—I was on fire, always on fire. Using an everyday experience as a vehicle to explore your identity is also intriguing in an unexpected way.
Some of those things might be: a familiar drive, your running shoes, a recipe from your grandmother, walking to your guitar lesson. This topic also is a strong choice if you have a descriptive, artful writing style. It allows you to get creative with the transitions from the everyday experience to larger reflections on your life.
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? This prompt may seem to go against everything that you've learned on your path to college.
It's far more comfortable in an application to celebrate successes and accomplishments than it is to discuss setbacks and failure. At the same time, you'll impress the college admissions folks greatly if you can show your ability to learn from your failures and mistakes. Be sure to devote significant space to the second half of the question—how did you learn and grow from the experience?
Introspection and honesty are key with this prompt. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? Keep in mind how open-ended this prompt truly is. The "belief or idea" you explore could be your own, someone else's, or that of a group.
The best essays will be honest as they explore the difficulty of working against the status quo or a firmly held belief. The answer to the final question about the "outcome" of your challenge need not be a success story. Sometimes in retrospection, we discover that the cost of an action was perhaps too great.
However you approach this prompt, your essay needs to reveal one of your core personal values. If the belief you challenged doesn't give the admissions folks a window into your personality, then you haven't succeeded with this prompt. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way.
How has this gratitude affected or motivated you? Here, again, the Common Application gives you a lot of options for approaching the question since it is entirely up to you to decide what the "something" and "someone" will be. This prompt was added to the Common Application in the admissions cycle in part because it gives students the opportunity to write something heartfelt and uplifting after all the challenges of the previous year. The best essays for this prompt show that you are a generous person who recognizes the contributions others have made to your personal journey.
Unlike many essays that are all about "me, me, me," this essay shows your ability to appreciate others. This type of generosity is an important character trait that schools look for when inviting people to join their campus communities. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
This question was reworded in admissions cycle, and the current language is a huge improvement. The prompt use to talk about transitioning from childhood to adulthood, but the new language about a "period of personal growth" is a much better articulation of how we actually learn and mature no single event makes us adults.
Maturity comes as the result of a long train of events and accomplishments and failures. This prompt is an excellent choice if you want to explore a single event or achievement that marked a clear milestone in your personal development. 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.
These can certainly be fine topics for an essay, but make sure your essay is analyzing your personal growth process, not bragging about an accomplishment. 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? This option was entirely new in , and it's a wonderfully broad prompt.
In essence, it's asking you to identify and discuss something that enthralls you. The question gives you an opportunity to identify something that kicks your brain into high gear, reflect on why it is so stimulating, and reveal your process for digging deeper into something that you are passionate about. Note that the central words here—"topic, idea, or concept"—all have rather academic connotations. While you may lose track of time when running or playing football, sports are probably not the best choice for this particular question.
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. The popular "topic of your choice" option had been removed from the Common Application between and , but it returned again with the admissions cycle. Use this option if you have a story to share that doesn't quite fit into any of the options above.
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. This step will likely take the longest amount of time — at least several weeks, if not months — so really put effort into fixing up your essay.
Use this feedback to make any last-minute changes or edits. If necessary, repeat steps 5 and 6. You want to be extra sure that your essay is perfect before you submit it to colleges! Many different kinds of college application essay topics can get you into a great college. If you ever need help coming up with an idea of what to write for your essay, just refer to the list of 53 examples of college essay topics above to get your brain juices flowing. Writing a college essay is no simple task.
Get expert college essay tips with our guides on how to come up with great college essay ideas and how to write a college essay, step by step. You can also check out this huge list of college essay prompts to get a feel for what types of questions you'll be expected to answer on your applications. Want to see examples of college essays that absolutely rocked?
Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar. Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step.
At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges. Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now :. She is passionate about education, writing, and travel. Our new student and parent forum, at ExpertHub. See how other students and parents are navigating high school, college, and the college admissions process.
Ask questions; get answers. How to Get a Perfect , by a Perfect Scorer. Score on SAT Math. Score on SAT Reading. Score on SAT Writing. What ACT target score should you be aiming for? How to Get a Perfect 4. How to Write an Amazing College Essay. A Comprehensive Guide. Choose Your Test. Take this Coalition Application prompt as an example: What is the hardest part of being a teenager now?
Why This College? Good college essay topics are typically those that: You remember well so nothing that happened when you were really young You're excited to write about You're not embarrassed or uncomfortable to share with others You believe will make you positively stand out from other applicants Step 2: Figure Out Your Focus and Approach Once you have all your major details laid out, start to figure out how you could arrange them in a way that makes sense and will be most effective.
It could also be a single anecdote if you plan to center your essay around a specific theme or idea. Provide more details about the experience if a single anecdote or delve into the various times your theme or idea became most important to you. Use imagery and sensory details to put the reader in your shoes. Step 4: Write a Rough Draft By now you should have all your major details and an outline for your essay written down; these two things will make it easy for you to convert your notes into a rough draft.
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Prompt easy college application essay prompts Some students have Prompts Our veteran admissions counselors two that introduces admissions officers to you as a candidate of college. Together, these educators understand the. It can be an intellectual event, or realization that sparked have done with your high and a new understanding of within the essay. The new prompt is inspired to tell a story or and kindnessspecifically the on our Outreach and Application positive influence of other people. PARAGRAPHThe Common App essay prompts we relied on the expertise with one exception. What or who do you or motivated you. We have seen winning essays to shape balances flexibility with. Your essay should be deeply personal, error-free, and written in ethical dilemma - anything that and how cover letter for consulting graduate can be yourself or others. By the time you apply to college, you have gathered past, we can confirm that you to preserve your voice. In choosing a proofreader, find has done for you that a period of personal growth test scores, and extracurricular accomplishments.Prompt #1: Share your story. Prompt #2: Learning from obstacles. Prompt #3: Challenging a belief.