Avoid clichés whenever possible.

While you may lose track of time when running or playing football, sports are probably not the best choice for this particular question. When responding to Prompt #1, consider the following: As you can tell from these essay questions, college admissions officers love reading about personal growth, and there’s no more direct way than to tackle head-on a story about a time that you failed and then got back up and tried again. 3. A college essay is not a resume—it's the best opportunity to show off your unique personality to admissions committees. But then I started to wonder if I could use what I'd learned to do the whole thing faster. However you approach this prompt, your essay needs to reveal one of your core personal values. You want to have enough space to really explore one specific idea, but you don't need to include everything.

Brand yourself: In order for your essay to be truly effective, a reader should be able to summarize your subject in a simple sentence.

Prompt 1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it.

It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. What prompted your thinking? Questions & guidance.

When responding to Prompt #3, consider the following: If you’re a student who feels more comfortable writing about academics in his or her college application essays, this might be a good prompt for you. That policy changed recently, and the essay is now optional for some schools. The best way to do that is to stick to specifics; writing about your individual experiences will keep your essay original. The first version could be written by almost anyone; the second version has a specific perspective—it's also intriguing and makes you want to know more.

How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Share an essay on any topic of your choice. The stories and information shared in an essay are what the Admissions Officer will use to advocate for the student in the admissions committee.

What do you read or watch when you have total freedom to decide? The current prompts are the result of much discussion and debate from the member institutions who use the Common Application.

Be sure to devote significant space to the second half of the question—how did you learn and grow from the experience? 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). For the 2020-21 application cycle, the Common Application essay prompts remain unchanged from the 2019-20 cycle.

Instead, focus on what’s unique and distinctive about you, then find the best way to present it. Now that we've established the basic ideas you need to keep in mind as you brainstorm, let's go through the 2020-21 Common App essay questions one at a time and break down what admissions committees are looking for in responses. Why does it captivate you?

What has made you grow as a person? What big picture problems do you aspire to help solve someday? Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. The time has come. An experience you had with a friend, peer, colleague, or even stranger that raised uncomfortable questions for you that you may still be wrestling with. Be careful with that opening word "describe"—you'll want to spend much more time analyzing the problem than describing it. Moreover, colleges interpret the questions generously—they're more concerned with learning something interesting about you than with whether your topic perfectly fits the question. Can you find a positive lesson in a negative experience? They may be helpful to brainstorm, but all of them are broad enough to encompass whatever story you most want to tell. After reading this, you should have a lot of ideas for your own essays and directions to write a really strong personal statement. The 5 Strategies You Must Be Using to Improve 160+ SAT Points, How to Get a Perfect 1600, by a Perfect Scorer, Free Complete Official SAT Practice Tests. This prompt can also help you show either your own sense of self-concept or how you relate to others. There is no single right answer to these prompts, and if you try to find one, you'll end up doing yourself a disservice. For more background on college essays and tips for crafting a great one, check out our complete explanation of the basics of the personal statement.

How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?” (21.1%). It can be one you’ve already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. Something you learned, in or outside the classroom, that challenged your previously held ideas and caused you to continue reading and exploring to learn more. When and why?

The tool also includes Spanish language resources.

These questions ;ask about specific types of experiences that not every high school student has had.

During the 2018-2019 application year, the most popular topic of choice was: “Share an essay on any topic of your choice.

Whichever prompt you chose, make sure you are looking inward. If Prompts 1-6 don’t cover something that you really want to say, you can choose to address it with Prompt 7. If your essay could fit under more than one option, it really doesn't matter which one you choose. Why does the reader need to know this?

Leave a Reply Cancel reply. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League.

Why does it captivate you? What matters is that it’s of personal importance to you. However, almost any kind of obstacle, challenge, or failure—large or small—can work: Make sure you pick an actual failure or challenge—don't turn your essay into a humblebrag. Neatly packaged takeaways. The (unexpected?)

", –Valerie Marchand WelshDirector of College Counseling, The Baldwin SchoolFormer Associate Dean of Admissions, University of Pennsylvania. How have you changed during the last year?

Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. ", Get Free Guides to Boost Your SAT/ACT Score, most up-to-date versions of the Common App essay questions, Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now.

However, colleges also want to see that you're open minded and able to be fair and kind toward those who have different beliefs than you do. You certainly can revise something you wrote for a class if it meets the goals of a personal essay, but don’t shoehorn something else in. In either case, you need to explain why you decided the belief should be challenged, what you actually did—if your story is just that someone gave you a new piece of information and you changed your mind, you should probably find a different topic—and how you feel about your actions in hindsight. Your essay should illustrate something about you beyond what's in the rest of your application. Has a teacher ever said something that caused you to reconsider your beliefs?

Many students believe that they should write about resume-padding activities that look especially impressive, such as volunteering abroad. Whereas essays for other prompts might use a series of moments or a gradual realization, this prompt asks you to narrate a singular event that ultimately had a significant impact on the way you think and act.

If you do want to take on Prompt 3 or 5, however, remember to clearly explain your perspective to the reader, even if it seems obvious to you.

Analysis, not description, will reveal the critical thinking skills that are the hallmark of a promising college student. There are many reasons you may need to write a personal essay, from a simple class assignment to a college application requirement.You can use the list below for inspiration. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

How do you face setbacks? How do you handle frustration? But don’t worry – every person has a story to tell. Your intellectual curiosity or your artistic talent?

How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

By using ThoughtCo, you accept our, A Sample Essay for Common Application Option #7: Topic of Your Choice, Common Application Essay Option 3 Tips: Challenging a Belief, "Gym Class Hero" - a Common Application Essay Sample for Option #3, How to Ace Your University of Wisconsin Personal Statements, Tips for Writing an Essay on an Event That Led to Personal Growth, Tips for the Pre-2013 Personal Essay Options on the Common Application, Tips for an Admissions Essay on an Influential Person, Common Application Essay Option 2 Tips: Learning from Failure, Topic of Your Choice: Common Application Essay Tips, Sample Weak Supplemental Essay for Duke University, 2020 Common Application Essay Option 4—Solving a Problem, 5 Tips for a College Admissions Essay on an Important Issue, Common Application Essay, Option 1: Share Your Story, Common Application Essay on a Meaningful Place, According to the folks at the Common Application, Ph.D., English, University of Pennsylvania, M.A., English, University of Pennsylvania, B.S., Materials Science & Engineering and Literature, MIT.

Give yourself plenty of time to brainstorm and write so you don't feel rushed into jotting down the first thing you can come up with and sending it right off.

I've collected the main ideas you should keep in mind as you plan your Common App essay below.

Share an essay on any topic of your choice.

One student saw trying out for the role of Hamlet as the culmination of many years of study and hard work and was devastated not to get it, while another was simply proud to have overcome her nerves enough to try out for the chorus line in West Side Story. College Admissions Essay Editing Services, - University Assignments Editing Services, - Business and Corporate Editing Services, over 800 colleges in the United States use the Common Application, clear, crisp, engaging language and be free of errors, 3 Reasons to Get Editing For Your College Admissions Essays, Tips for Writing College Admissions Essays for the 2020-2021 School Year, Writing About COVID-19 in a College Admissions Essay, How to Write an Admissions Essay to Get Into Top Schools, Wordvice Ranked Best Admissions Essay Editing Service in Wired.com Review, What All Top-Tier Colleges Look For: 5 Tips for Writing Your Admissions Essay. 2. 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. As part of our commitment to making sure the essay prompts continue to serve students and Common App member colleges well, we invited feedback through a survey. 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). We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score.

Prompt 1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it.

What or who do you turn to when you want to learn more? Colleges want to admit students who are intellectually engaged with the world.

Retaining the essay prompts provides the added benefit of consistency for students, counselors, parents, and members during the admissions process.

It's not enough to simply tell a story about my feud with a raccoon that kept destroying all the progress I made repairing a bench; I would need to make it clear what that experience ;shows about my character (perseverance) and explain what it ;taught me (that there are some things in life you simply can't control).