The Common Application has recently released their official essay prompts for the 2017-2018 application year. We are actually very excited about this year’s options!
In previous years, The Common App has instructed: The essay demonstrates
your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response.
This is not a long essay! Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don’t feel obligated to do so. (The application won’t accept a response shorter than 250 words.) A typical 650-word essay, single spaced, is only slightly longer than one page.
Here are the updated Common Application main essay prompts. Note that the 2017-18 changes or additions are in Italics.
- 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.
- 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?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- 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.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- 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?
- 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.
Aren’t these great choices? Remember, you only CHOOSE ONE PROMPT for your essay! In the simplest terms, this essay is supposed to focus primarily on
WHO YOU ARE, and NOT simply on WHAT YOU DID. Happy brainstorming!