Common Application Prompt 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.”

I’m going to go ahead and be perfectly blunt here: Unless you are an extremely sophisticated writer, I would stay away from this prompt.

My reasons?

  • You might be tempted to use an essay you’ve already written (“What? My work is already done? Great!”) that focuses on a topic you love, but doesn’t say enough about you.
  • You might be tempted to write a new essay that only focuses on your topic and not you.
  • You might be tempted to write a tongue-in-cheek essay that shows how clever or funny you are, but still doesn’t show enough sides of your personality.
  • You might be tempted to write about a topic like “how I hate college apps” (don’t do it) or write a haiku instead of an essay (don’t do that, either).

The other prompts are specifically designed to tease out certain sides of you. But this one is so open-ended, it could well lead you into the wilderness without any breadcrumbs helping you back home.

You have six other prompts from which you can choose. If you want my advice, go with one of the other six.

Head back here to read tips for other Common Application prompts.