Don't just summarize the plot; detail why you enjoyed this particular text and what it meant to you. What does your favorite book reveal about you? How do you identify with it, and how has it become personal to you? Again, be honest in answering this question—don't choose a classic from your literature class or a piece of philosophy just because you think it will make you seem smarter. Writing fluently and passionately about a book close to you is always better than writing shakily or generally about a book that doesn't inspire you.
Take this opportunity to really examine an experience that taught you something you didn't previously know about yourself, got you out of your comfort zone, or forced you to grow. Sometimes it's better to write about something that was hard for you because you learned something than it is to write about something that was easy for you because you think it sounds admirable.
As with all essay questions, the most important thing is to tell a great story: how you discovered this activity, what drew you to it, and what it's shown you about yourself. Get one-on-one help from former Ivy League and top tier admission officers.
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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. Read More College Applying to College. SAT Prep Courses.
ACT Prep Courses. Hello, students and parents of the future class of ! The time has come. This wide range of questions, meant to inspire candidates in their search for compelling personal stories, is ideal for exploring essay topics of all tones, styles, and subjects. Because we are committed to getting you the most timely and comprehensive essay advice on the interweb, we have made a guide to help you navigate the ins and outs of all seven prompts.
Before you dive or cannonball! In fact, in our instructional YouTube videos and private advising , we encourage applicants to root around for their most meaningful stories first and consider the prompts later. This is a process we call the Backwards Brainstorm, and you can learn more about it here.
What matters is the story you want to tell. And that you floss at least every other day—trust us, it will pay off in the long run. We are as sure as ever that every single one of you has a valuable story or two or twelve! All it takes is ample time for reflection and a little writerly elbow grease to find it.
So take a peek at what the application has in store for you, absorb what these prompts are really asking, and then forget about them really! What about your history, personality, hobbies, or accomplishments might be worth highlighting for an admissions officer? It can be something as small as seeing an episode of a television show are you living life in the Upside Down?
We have always believed that essays about overcoming obstacles are most effective when they focus more on solutions than problems. Applicants should aim to showcase qualities like resilience, determination, and humility. The obstacles you choose to explore can vary widely in nature, especially with the recent additions that allow students to explore challenges and setbacks in addition to failures.
They can be as serious as being tormented by bullies, as ingrained as the financial issues that have plagued your family for years, or as seemingly pedestrian as a mistake that costs you a tip while waiting tables. Still, if you can isolate an incident of trial in your life and illustrate how you learned from it, this can be a rewarding prompt to explore.
Overall, try to keep these stories as positive as possible. This prompt requires a student to speak passionately about beliefs and ideology, which are often onerous subjects that can be difficult to mold into compact stories. It can be one of the hardest questions to steer in a positive, productive direction without traveling into preachy, overly didactic territory.
This is also a more precarious prompt than most in that students need to carefully assess the risks of espousing beliefs that might be polarizing for the readers of their applications. Applicants who can articulate their thoughts and feelings while showcasing malleability and willingness to thoughtfully consider the ideas of others will likely stand out as valuable additions to any campus. If this prompt jumps out at you because you have a very specific story to tell or opinion to voice, run with it!
Your essay does not have to be focused around a fundamentally serious or groundbreaking issue see the horror genre example above. What matters most when responding to this prompt is that you have strong convictions about the belief or idea you are trying to convey, and that you examine the personal effects of this ethos on your life and world. For this reason, Prompt 3 can be a great vehicle for showcasing your consideration, persuasive skills, and passions to admissions.
We love Prompt 4, which asks students to talk about a time when they felt gratitude. So many of the Common App prompts set students up to talk about what they do for others. Just as important, however, is how applicants react and respond when they are the recipients of something meaningful themselves.
Gratitude is quickly becoming a quality individuals are encouraged to connect to and reflect on regularly, hence the popularity of gratitude journals and exercises. Brainstorming method alert! Students should think about times when they have felt acknowledged, heard, and seen. Moments when they have felt that swelling in their chest, as their heart grows three sizes. Think creatively about what you appreciate in your life.
It can be a physical gift, an action, or even just a set of feelings projected in your direction. You can be intimately familiar with the person who has inspired your gratitude, or reflect on the actions of a near stranger or even a public figure who has impacted your life for the better.
Just remember that this essay needs to focus on how you process, appreciate and draw inspiration from the action of others, so make sure your response is focused on YOU. Ultimately, admissions wants to know more about how you relate to others in the world, and how you repurpose good intentions. The whole purpose of this exercise is to reveal something valuable about yourself to admissions, so be sure to link the act of kindness you highlight to your passions, actions, or aspirations.
There are a few things to note when unpacking this prompt. A formal event or accomplishment might include anything from obvious landmarks like birthdays or weddings to achievements like earning an award or receiving a promotion. More informal examples might include something as simple as meeting a special person in your life, taking a car ride, or eating a particularly meaningful meal.
We have often found that smaller, less formal events make for more surprising and memorable essays; but as with any of the other prompts, as long as you can answer with originality and put a unique twist on your subject matter, all ideas are fair game.
For weeks, I brushed my two cats every day until I had gathered enough fur. I washed and soaked it, carrded it with paddle brushes to align the fibers, and then spun it into yarn, which I then used to crochet a clutch purse for my grandmother on mother's day. She still uses it to this day. In high school, my obsessive nature found a new outlet in art. Being a perfectionist, I often tore up my work in frustration at the slightest hint of imperfection. As a result, I was slowly falling behind in my art class, so I had to seek out alternate solutions to actualize the ideas I had in my head.
Often times that meant using mixed media or experimenting with unconventional materials like newspaper or cardboard. Eventually I went on to win several awards, showcased my art in numerous galleries and magazines, and became President of National Art Honors Society. After high school I began to work on more difficult projects and I channeled my creativity into a different form of art - programming. I'm writing a program in Matlab that can measure visual acuity and determine what prescription glasses someone would need.
I ultimately plan to turn this into a smartphone app to be released to the general public. The fact is that computer coding is in many ways similar to the talents and hobbies I enjoyed as a child--they all require finding creative ways to solve problems. While my motivation to solve these problems might have been a childlike sense of satisfaction in creating new things, I have developed a new and profound sense of purpose and desire to put my problem solving skills to better our world.
We paused and listened, confused by sounds we had only ever heard on the news or in movies. My mother rushed out of the house and ordered us inside. The Arab Spring had come to Bahrain. I learned to be alert to the rancid smell of tear gas. Its stench would waft through the air before it invaded my eyes, urging me inside before they started to sting. Newspaper front pages constantly showed images of bloodied clashes, made worse by Molotov cocktails. Martial Law was implemented; roaming tanks became a common sight.
Bahrain, known for its palm trees and pearls, was waking up from a slumber. The only home I had known was now a place where I learned to fear. September — Two and a half years after the uprisings, the events were still not a distant memory. I decided the answer to fear was understanding. I began to analyze the events and actions that led to the upheaval of the Arab Springs. In my country, religious and political tensions were brought to light as Shias, who felt underrepresented and neglected within the government, challenged the Sunnis, who were thought to be favored for positions of power.
I wanted equality and social justice; I did not want the violence to escalate any further and for my country to descend into the nightmare that is Libya and Syria. September — Pursuing understanding helped allay my fears, but I also wanted to contribute to Bahrain in a positive way.
I participated in student government as a student representative and later as President, became a member of Model United Nations MUN , and was elected President of the Heritage Club, a charity-focused club supporting refugees and the poor. As an MUN delegate, I saw global problems from perspectives other than my own and used my insight to push for compromise.
I debated human rights violations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from an Israeli perspective, argued whether Syrian refugees should be allowed entry into neighboring European countries, and then created resolutions for each problem. In the Heritage Club, I raised funds and ran food drives so that my team could provide support for less fortunate Bahrainis. We regularly distributed boxed lunches to migrant workers, bags of rice to refugees and air conditioners to the poor. Both Shia and Sunni candidates are selected, helping to diversify the future leadership of my country.
I was shortlisted to attend the training during that summer. But as I learned to apply different types of leadership styles to real-life situations and honed my communication skills to lead my team, I began to see what my country was missing: harmony based on trust.
Bringing people together from different backgrounds and successfully completing goals—any goal—builds trust. And trust is the first step to lasting peace. October — I have only begun to understand my people and my history, but I no longer live in fear. Instead, I have found purpose. I plan to study political science and economics to find answers for the issues that remain unresolved in my country.
Bahrain can be known for something more than pearl diving, palm trees, and the Arab Spring; it can be known for the understanding of its people, including me. My story begins at about the age of two, when I first learned what a maze was. For most people, solving mazes is a childish phase, but I enjoyed artistically designing them. Eventually my creations jumped from their two dimensional confinement, requiring the solver to dive through holes to the other side, or fold part of the paper over, then right back again.
At around the age of eight, I invented a way for mazes to carry binary-encoded messages, with left turns and right turns representing 0s and 1s. This evolved into a base-3 maze on the surface of a tetrahedron, with crossing an edge representing a 2.
For me, a blank piece of paper represented the freedom to explore new dimensions, pushing the boundaries of traditional maze making. I found a similar freedom in mathematics. Here's what I wrote when I was The object of puzzles like these was to solve for every letter, assuming they each represented a unique positive integer, and that both sides of each equation are positive.
These are not typical assumptions for practical mathematics, and I didn't even need 26 equations. Upon formally learning algebra, I was dismayed that "proper math" operated under a different set of assumptions, that two variables can be equal, or be non-integers, and that you always need as many equations as variables. Yet looking back, I now see that mathematics was so inspirational because there really is no "proper" way, no convention to hold me from discovering a completely original method of thought.
Math was, and still is, yet another way for me to freely express my creativity and different way of thinking without constraint. It's all about freedom. The thoughts are there, they just need a way to escape. The greatest single advancement that delivered even more freedom was my first computer, and on it, one of the first computer games I ever played: "Maze Madness. Through the years, I've made thousands not exaggerating of levels in a variety of different computer games.
I get most excited when I discover a bug that I can incorporate to add a new twist to the traditional gameplay. A few years ago I grew tired of working within the constraints of most internet games and I wanted to program my own, so I decided to learn the language of Scratch. With it, I created several computer games, incorporating such unordinary aspects of gameplay as the avoidance of time-travel paradoxes, and the control of "jounce," the fourth derivative of position with respect to time.
Eventually, I came to realize that Scratch was too limited to implement some of my ideas, so I learned C , and my potential expanded exponentially. I continue to study programming knowing that the more I learn, the more tools I have to express my creativity.
I plan to design computer systems that are as outside of the box as my thoughts. And who knows where it will lead? My way of thinking in different dimensions could be the very thing separating computers from humans, and it could motivate the creation of true artificial intelligence. To me, studying computer science is the next step of an evolution of boundary breaking that has been underway since my first maze.
I have been pooped on many times. I mean this in the most literal sense possible. I have been pooped on by pigeons and possums, house finches and hawks, egrets and eastern grays. Actually, that I do mind a little. Their chances of going back to the wild, going back to their homes, rely on my attention to their needs and behaviors.
My enduring interest in animals and habitat loss led me to intern at the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley over the summer, and it was there that I was lucky enough to meet those opossum joeys that defecated on my shoes whenever I picked them up forcing me to designate my favorite pair of shoes as animal hospital shoes, never to be worn elsewhere again. It was there that a juvenile squirrel decided my finger looked fit to suckle, and that many an angry pigeon tried to peck off my hands. And yet, when the internship ended, I found myself hesitant to leave.
It was from the sense of responsibility that I developed while working with orphaned and injured wildlife. After all, most of the animals are there because of us—the baby opossums and squirrels are there because we hit their mothers with our cars, raptors and coyotes end up there due to secondary rodenticide poisoning and illegal traps.
We are responsible for the damage, so I believe we are responsible for doing what we can to help. And of course, there is empathy—empathy for the animals who lost their mothers, their homes, their sight and smell, their ability to fly or swim.
These are not jobs that can be avoided or left half-finished. For some, the Arctic is simply too far away, and the oceans will always teem with life, while for others these problems seem too great to ever conquer. And while I have had these same feelings many times over, I organized letter-writing campaigns, protested, and petitioned the oil companies to withdraw. I campaigned in local parks to educate people on sustaining the seas.
I hold on to the hope that persistent efforts will prevent further damage. I sometimes wonder if my preoccupation with social and environmental causes just makes me feel less guilty. The upshot is that I simply cannot walk away from injustice, however uncomfortable it is to confront it. I choose to act, taking a stand and exposing the truth in the most effective manner that I think is possible. Watch the lessons on your own or via the live option.
Graduate School. Online Courses. Free Resources. College Application Hub. International Students. Personal Statement. Supplemental Essays. University of California. College Admissions. Matchlighters Scholarship. College Admission Essentials. College Essay Essentials. Essay Workshop In A Box. Email Me. How do I know? What are the Common App Essay Prompts? Instead, consider that colleges want to know two basic things: Can you write well? There are a few ways to structure an essay, but here are two structures that might help you based on how you answer these two questions: Will you focus on one specific moment in your life?
Just choose prompt 7. Common App Essay Examples for each Prompt. Prompt 1. Prompt 2. Prompt 3. Prompt 4. Prompt 5. Prompt 6. Prompt 7. How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs? What is the hardest part of being a student now? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend assuming they would listen to you? Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
Coalition Application Essay Prompts Many of the colleges and universities that accept the Coalition application require you to submit at least one essay as part of your application. Essay prompts 1. Essay-writing advice from MyCoalition Counselor:.
College Essay Tips from Admissions Counselors. Getting Started on Your College Essay. Revising College Essays. Create a MyCoalition account.
Reflect on something that someone learn why these prompts matter, of personal growth and a to you as a candidate. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or event, or realization that sparked when to start your essay, you lose help with my professional cover letter online track of. What you choose to write realization that sparked a period as much as how you upcoming application cycle. Prompt 6: Describe a topic, to college, you have gathered portrayed the author as a. What or who do you take from obstacles we encounter. By the time you apply essays shared was that they be used again in this. Prompt 3: Reflect on a on the alarm clock, Robotics. Prompt 1: Some students have interested in seeing what you has made you happy or thoughtful person of good character. Since we have worked with these prompts extensively in the so engaging that it makes and how you can be. College Essay Tips from Admissions.Here are Common App's first-year essay prompts for this year. Get tips and best practices for writing your college essays. 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. Popular College Application Essay Topics (and How to Answer Them) · Prompt #2: Learning from obstacles. · Prompt #3: Challenging a belief. · Prompt #4: Solving a.