2017- 2018 Common App Essay Prompts (250 – 650 words)
- 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.
2018 Common App Additional Information Prompt (up to 650 words)
This section is often overlooked although it appears on the “Writing” page right below “Disciplinary History.” It is a perfect opportunity to provide a glimpse into the candidate’s strengths or some aspect of the candidate’s history that will be of value to the admissions officers.
The Additional Information section allows up to 650 words, with no minimum. The prompt is:
“Please provide an answer below if you wish to provide details of circumstances or qualifications not reflected in the application.”
Although originally this section was meant to allow the candidate to explain a weakness, personal issue, anomaly in a transcript, etc., it now gives you a chance to expand upon a “qualification” that could range from a personal interest to a major social action project. Think carefully about this! It shouldn’t be another personal statement, but it can be a thoughtful and detailed explanation of something that could just make the difference!
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