Your Guide to This Year's Common Application Essay Prompts

With over 750 participating universities, the Common Application is one of the most widely-used college application platforms in the world. It helps students like you streamline the application process by sharing the same information with multiple universities with the click of a button.

You can then customize your applications based on the unique requirements of each school.

One of the most important aspects of the Common Application is the essay prompts. You’ll need to show off your writing abilities by answering one of the questions. This year’s essay prompts are the same as last year’s. Take a look at the prompts below: 

  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.

Tip: This is a good place to talk about any unique abilities or experiences you might have. Try to be surprising and unique when...

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The Essay Is NOT the Most Important Element of Your Application

If you think that the essay is the most important part of a college application, you’re wrong. College admission officers place more value on items that actually reflect how you or your college-bound child will fair at their university.

Writing a snappy, heartfelt essay about your trip through South America may give you some points for individuality, but this piece of material does not give admissions officers an accurate portrait of your future performance as a student. Take a look at the top five factors college admissions officers look at most when it comes to evaluating the candidacy of a student. 

Every year the State of College Admission Report collects data on what admissions officers are looking for when evaluating applicants. And the results might surprise you. Based on last year’s report, the following five categories hold the most weight when it comes to a yay or nay vote and swaying the minds of admission officers.

  1. Grades in College Prep Courses
  2. ...
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Help! I’m stuck on my essay and advice on college essays

The college essay is one of the most painstaking aspects of the college process for many students. Remember, most of the time, the college essay will not be great if you don’t get any feedback. So don’t keep it all to yourself. If you get stuck, just do the following steps: 

Help! I’m stuck on my essay and advice on college essays

•       Just start. Turn off your cell phone and computer. Pull out a pen and paper. Write for 15 minutes once per day for a week. Don’t be surprised if the topic comes to you in a surprise inspiration while in your writing session.

•       Get a brainstorming buddy. A college counselor or friend who knows you well can help you come up with topics if you’re having trouble getting started.

•       Don’t over-edit your essay. If you follow one of the systems to write your essay, you will get it done to...

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How to Write Your Common App Essay in 7 Steps

It may not be what you want to hear, but it’s true. The only way to make your essay great is by taking a deep dive into yourself. Admissions officers want to know how you work. Particularly, what motivates you and what you’ve learned along the way in life so far.

The Common App essay helps admissions officers get to know you and your worldview.

Taking a deep dive into yourself is easier said than done. The good news is, you don’t have to take the dive alone and without support.

Follow these 7 steps to complete your essay, and the deep dive will happen along the way:

1. Compare your 7 Common App prompt options. Which prompt strikes you as most like you? I wrote a blog on the strengths and pitfalls of the essay topics to help you make a choice.

2. Assess your strengths. You can use a free survey (you have to register your email) like the VIA survey.  After learning about your strengths, answer for yourself: What’s an example of a scenario...

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How to Write An Essay that Kills (advice on college essays)

Standup comedians either “kill” (win over audiences) or flop (get no laughs, or get booed). While the reaction of the admissions officer may not be so dramatic, their reaction will fall somewhere on the spectrum between “kill” and “flop.” 

There are three components How to Write An Essay that Kills Or advice on college essays.

1) Clear Context. Have you ever picked up a book and turned to page 53 out of 200? No one usually does – why? Because you the reader won’t understand what happened before or what will happen after without some kind of introduction. This introduction orients a reader to what’s going on. Similarly, you need to make sure your essay is understood by an outside reader without asking a lot of questions about how and why this story came to be.

2) Persuasive voice. Many students fall into the trap of finding the “smartest” sounding words in the dictionary without an...

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