Oh, Common Application prompts, you beastliest beasts of beasts, you. Why do you make us self-introspect so? Why can’t we just write about something simple, like quantum physics or the tax code?
I can hear these wails from Alaska to Wyoming as seniors bump squarely into writer’s block. And I get it. These prompts are tough. But we are here today to start breaking these beasts down.
For those not yet in the know, there are seven Common Application prompts. More than 900 institutions accept this application, which means that you fill it out once and then send it to multiple schools. Essentially, it makes applying to college a whole lot easier and you only have to write one personal statement (Note: many schools require supplemental essays). To see if your schools accept the Common App, go here and simply type in a college’s name or search by state.
Your Common Application essay can be as short as 250 words (not recommended) and as long as 650 words. The goal of all of these essays is for you to talk about yourself. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.
OK, let’s begin:
Common Application Prompt 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.”
Common Application Prompt 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?”
Common Application Prompt 3: “Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?”
Common Application Prompt 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.”
Common Application Prompt 5: “Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.”
Common Application Prompt 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?”
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.”