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What Are College Essay Prompts?
Any student that plans on applying to an educational institution (University) in the USA must be ready to present their writing skills on one out of several essay writing topics. Obviously, colleges value a student's GPA, extracurricular activities, special talents and so on; the college admission essay gives the university a different perspective on a student's academic skill set and allows them to catch a first glimpse of what to expect from the individual. Students who tend to write mediocre work on personal essay topics can expect to see their applications rejected more often than not. Though there is no fact that these things are in rhythm, a correlation is evident between good application essays and higher acceptance rates; in other words, it is definitely not an accident!
College application essay writing prompts are given to the student as templates that serve as a medium for admission officers to receive the specific information they need. The main purpose for the creation of essay prompts is to help strengthen the overall application by showing what unique information a specific student can provide! Usually, students will be given either persuasive essay prompts that aim to convince the admission officer as to why the student is worthy of the university or personal essay prompts that allow the student to provide a personal experience and how its impact on the student will also be beneficial to the university.
Read more: How To Write a College Application Essay
Actual 2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts
We are so happy to share with you the 2017-2018 Common Application essay prompts. The corrections you can see below demonstrate the feedback of 108 Common App member colleges and more than 5.000 other common app constituents.
2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts
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? (New)
- 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. (New)
Prompts were taken from commonapp
Common App Essay Tips
The common application is a website that students can use as a tool to send out various applications faster and more efficiently. Thanks to its implementation into the academic regime, many students have found it to be a very useful medium for the college admission process and thus its audience has been growing ever since! Taking the position of essentially being a database for college application info, the website has had to implement some requirements. First of all, the common app essay word limit for 2016 can be no greater than 650 words. So if one was planning to start their career as an author through this medium, they might have to look elsewhere! That being said, 650 words may not seem like enough to tell a truly exquisite story. This is why college essay writing prompts train students to write concisely as well as delicately; ideally, having “extra” words or even sentences in your text is frowned upon and it forces the reader to deviate from the main points. So without further ado, here are some effective writing tips to make your common app essay stand out!
- When choosing essay writing topics, it is best to focus on narrative essay topics that are not voluminous; 650 words are not enough to write a short novel, so try to focus your thoughts on to one specific memory that can be seen as a valuable life experience. For example, interesting essay topics could talk about the experience and information learned from leaving your comfort zone (hopefully without the use of drugs or alcohol), or the drastic neuroplastic change that occurred after working your first minimum wage job, and what that really taught you about the value of money!
- Entertainment value should be high. Think about how many college application essays the admission officer has read just that day before getting to yours. Their brain is slowly running out of energy and patience from reading the same type of content over and over again, so throw them for a loop. Make them actually WANT to read your essay! How can you do this? Simple, put together the parts of this formula into one piece of text, and that is your best bet for adding excitement and quality to your work. Have an enthralling topic, coherent and harmonious writing structure, voluminous vocabulary (to an extent), meticulous grammar and a unique writing style! Though mastering the 5 parts may sound daunting to the pits of hell, it is definitely achievable with some enthusiasm and repetition!
- Vivid details and careful editing are two writing pillars that captivate any reader. Give the writing life by offering a setting and explaining where, when and how you were doing something. Instead of saying “dogs are my favorite animal”, try something more spice such as “Blake the homeless golden retriever appeared at my front door on a frosty Thursday morning seemingly starving and exhausted. What else could I do besides bring him in?” In other words, give your story action and show its impact on you in a clear and concise manner. Lastly, an hour of editing can never hurt. Read the essay from start to back and make sure that it flows like a peaceful creek as well as keeps the reader's attention!
Breaking Down College Application Essay Topics
College application essay topics are a key part of an entertaining and compelling piece of writing. Sometimes, they can even make or break the attention and interest of an admission officer. Having fantastic grammar, vocabulary, structuring, and style is definitely important, but if the topic seems dull from the beginning, it will be difficult to captivate the reader's interest. This is why choosing a good topic is the first step to writing a stellar college admission essay.
According to statistics, 47% of students choose to write about themselves, meaning that they talk about their interests, talents or background. 22% talk about some sort of personal achievement, 17% discuss a bad decision or failure, 10% talk about the solution to some issue and the remaining 4% challenge an accepted idea. With these statistics, an obvious trend can be noted. Most students tend to go with easy essay topics by talking about themselves, doing their best to express their unique qualities and attempting to stand out from the rest of the pack. Only 14% of students attempt to go above and beyond the norms by trying to apply themselves towards “real world” situations.
86 percent of application essay writers gravitate towards reflective essay topics and narrative essay topics. They attempt to use their personality traits and creative writing skills to build enthusiasm within the admission officers. Though this may seem like a logical strategy, the problems come from the fact that it is too redundant in the world of college applications, especially common app essays. Now, this does not mean that one should avoid writing an awesome story that they feel is semi-revolutionary. Just consider the overall quality of your reflective or narrative essay and if you feel that it will genuinely interest the reader, then go forth with it!
If you want to truly IMPRESS the admissions team, attempt to use real world application in your writing. This means that persuasive essay topics and analytical essay topics are the ones that you should be aiming for. So for example. If you were to try and argue that the minimum wage should be raised, you would put your admission essay together in the style and structure of a persuasive or analytical essay. This means using the 5-paragraph-format and creating a hypothesis, etc. The important thing to consider is that there have been so many research papers and tests made on these essay writing topics, so what you have to do is find facts and information that will allow your essay to be authentic. Just like in personal essay writing, find undiscovered gems that will give your essay that boost it needs! If you can write a truly convincing piece on a real world application using unique facts and research, then your chances of receiving admission to a top level university will definitely grow!
Best College Essay Prompts Overall
Many students constantly ask themselves: “When I write my essay online, what topic should I choose?” Well, EssayPro has good news! Through years of experience in the admission process, our essay writing team has put together a list of essay topics that can spark interest in any reader. Here are five of the best:
- Portray an event or experience that occurred in your life that had ever-lasting effects. What was the experience and how did it mold your views and mentality?
- Students say they go to College to “learn” or “get a degree” which is a cop-out for saying that they have no idea about their future plans or goals. What are some of your future and long term goals? How would you answer the question: “Why are you going to University?”
- Think back to a time when you heard a quote that really impacted you in some way. What was the quote and what kind of changes did it bring about in your life?
- Life is based on the around the cold hard fact that in order to succeed in this world, you must solve problems. Describe a time when you solved a problem or resolved a conflict and explain what grand changes it had in your life or in others.
Related: College Essay Writing Help
Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team
The article astutely states how to narrow down options for finding a good college admissions essay topic and describes which topics are the most interesting and compelling to explore. My piece of advice is: before writing your admissions essay, brainstorm for a very long time on what exactly you want to write. Make a bullet-point list of your best qualities, your favorite experiences, and your greatest achievements, then make another list of all the things you would like to read about if you were the admissions officer. Then see if any of those bullet points overlap and write about that.
One thing to keep in mind, though, is that the topic you choose should accurately demonstrate who you are. Compromising your narrative voice and stripping your essay off of your personality will damage your chances at writing a successful essay. One thing admissions officers don’t stress is that essays that are uniquely written and have a lot of personality and life in them will be more interesting to read than essays that sound bigoted and pretentious but “challenge an accepted idea,” especially if you’re aiming to the Ivy’s. The simple truth is: your essay doesn’t matter as much as you think it does and the deciding factor to getting into those top-tier schools is luck.
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