If you, as a student, are applying to a college or university using The Common Application, you will be using their essay prompts when submitting your application.
The Common Application is a not-for-profit, member organization comprised of over 800 colleges and universities. Each year, more than 1 million students use the Common App’s free online application to apply to college. The Common App allows students to input much of their college application information (background, education, activities, test scores, etc) into one place and use it to apply to multiple schools.
Some area schools using the Common App are Penn State, Bryn Mawr College, Drexel University, Swarthmore College, Cornell University, New York University, and Princeton University.
Within the Common App, there are personal essay writing prompts. The prompts are reviewed each year and may or may not change from year to year. For 2018-2019 the essay prompts will remain unchanged from the 2017-2018 cycle. The 2018-2019 prompts can be found here: https://www.commonapp.org/whats-appening/application-updates/2018-2019-common-application-essay-prompts
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.
The most important thing to keep in mind as you are writing your essay is that you need to show the college admissions counselors who you are as a person and how will your experiences help you succeed at their college or university. You only have 650 words to express who you are, so you want to be effective.
And this helpful tip may save you a big headache: When typing your essay into the text box within the Common App website, the system does not see this as activity, and can timeout before you are finished typing (timeout occurs in one hour). To prevent losing your work, we recommend typing your essay into a word processor and then pasting it into the application's text box when you are finished.
Our tutors can provide assistance with your college essay by reviewing and editing your writing, offering suggestions on organizing your essay, or helping you brainstorm topics to write about. Call or email us to schedule your essay assistance session. We can meet in-person or assist you remotely.
References: Common App