Most college applications require you to write a brief essay, usually between 250 and 650 words. If you are applying to schools that accept the Common Application, there are five essay prompts from which you can choose. Schools that do not accept the Common App will provide their own essay prompts, and schools may require additional short answer essays. The essay is widely considered to be the third most important factor in the college application process, after grades and test scores. It is your chance to speak to the admissions officers in your own voice, to become a three-dimensional person rather than a collection of statistics. This is where you can share your passions, your dreams, your talents, your story, and most importantly what makes you special.
Need help getting started? Download "Writing Your College Essay: A Twelve-Step Program from Grady's CCC." Make sure to download these sample essays, as well (reading sample essays is Step One).
2018-2019 Common Application Essay Prompts (650 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 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?
3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
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, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
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?
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.Essay Tips (click here)Resources for essay and resume help:
The Writing Center: located in the Media Center and open Monday—Thursday from 3:15 to 6 p.m. No appointment necessary.
The CCC: one-on-one essay help is available during lunch periods. Sign up by e-mailing CCCessayhelp@gmail.com for a 25-minute session with a private tutor to brush up and refine your story.Helpful Links:
- What makes a good essay? http://www.princetonreview.com/college/essay.asp x
- Sample essays: http://www.accepted.com/college/sampleessays.aspx and http://www.teenink.com/college_guide/college_essays/
- Common Application essay prompts and tips: http://collegeapps.about.com/od/essays/a/common-application-essay-prompts.htm
Short AnswersSchools sometimes ask for additional supplemental essays. Make sure you check each school's requirements. One common question is Why do you want to attend this university? Click here for advice.
- Bad essay topics with links to good sample essays: http://collegeapps.about.com/od/essays/tp/bad-essay-topics.htm