Basking in the hot sun to perfect your tan may have fallen out of favor, but summer still has its uses. For example, summer is just about the best time for most high school students to prep for the SAT & ACT. But that’s not all: summer is also the best time for rising seniors to work on that all-important admissions essay.
One of the keys to an AMAZING college essay is selecting the right prompt. Fortunately, the prompts and directions haven’t changed much over the last couple years, so here are your options for the 2016-17 Common App:
Instructions. 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. 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.)
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.
2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
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.
5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
An amazing college essay will set you apart from other applicants, so choose your prompt wisely. If you are looking for help conceiving and crafting your best possible admissions essays, we’d be happy to recommend some outstanding resources.