The Common Application, the college application with a subscriber base of over 700 colleges and universities, has announced its essay prompts for the 2018-2019 admissions cycle. The seven prompts for the Personal Statement will remain the same as the essay prompts from the 2017-2018 admissions cycle. This announcement by Common App. comes as no surprise to us. The essay prompts this past year were effective, allowing students to essentially write whatever it is they want in order to hang a lantern on who they are and what makes them tick. We previously applauded Common App. for bringing back the “Topic of Your Choice” essay prompt (#7) since this question of course gives students the most liberty in their response. We love freedom! As George Michael sang it, “Freedom! Freedom!”
The 2018-2019 Common Application Essay Prompts
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.
There Are Many College Essays
So if you’re a high school junior, there’s no reason you can’t get started on your Common Application Personal Statement now, though we typically wait until school lets out in June to get started on essay work with our students. And to those parents and students who think there’s only one college essay, you are certainly mistaken. There are tons and tons of college essays as most highly selective colleges have extensive supplements, with only a couple of exceptions like Washington University in St. Louis. And the Personal Statement is as important as the supplemental essays submitted to these institutions that require additional essays (and even at the schools at which the essays are optional!). It frustrates us to no end when people ask for help with their “college essay.” College essay? You mean, college essays? Plural please.
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