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By submitting my email address. i certify that i am 13 years of age or older, agree to recieve marketing email messages from the princeton review, and agree to terms of use., popular college application essay topics (and how to answer them).

Get help writing your college application essays. Find this year's Common App writing prompts and popular essay questions used by individual colleges.

The college essay is your opportunity to show admissions officers who you are apart from your grades and test scores (and to distinguish yourself from the rest of a very talented applicant pool).

brainstorming college application essay topics

2019–20 Common App Essays

Nearly 700 colleges accept the The Common Application , which makes it easy to apply to multiple schools with just one form. If you are using the Common App to apply for college admission in 2019, you will have 250–650 words to respond to ONE of the following prompts:

Read More: Get Expert Essay Advice From Former Admissions Officers!

Tackling the Common App Essay Prompts

Prompt #1: share your story..

Answer this prompt by reflecting on a hobby, facet of your personality, or experience that is genuinely meaningful and unique to you. Admissions officers want to feel connected to you and an honest, personal statement about who you are draws them in. Your love of superheroes, baking chops, or family history are all fair game if you can tie it back to who you are or what you believe in. Avoid a rehash of the accomplishments on your high school résumé and choose something that the admissions committee will not discover when reading the rest of your application.

Prompt #2: Learning from obstacles.

You're trying to show colleges your best self, so it might seem counterintuitive to willingly acknowledge a time you struggled. But overcoming challenges demonstrates courage, grit, and perseverance! That’s why the last piece of this prompt is essential. The obstacle you write about can be large or small, but you must show the admissions committee how your perspective changed as a result.

Perfect your college essay video

Prompt #3: Challenging a belief.

Your answer to this question could focus on a time you stood up to others or an experience when your own preconceived view was challenged. Choose this prompt if you have a relevant—and specific!—experience to recount (and reflect on). A vague essay about a hot button issue doesn’t tell the admissions committee anything useful about YOU.

Prompt #4: Solving a problem.

This essay is designed to get at the heart of how you think and what makes you tick. Present a situation or quandary and show steps toward the solution. Admissions officers want insight into your thought process and the issues you grapple with, so explain how you became aware of the dilemma and how you tackled solving it. Don’t forget to explain why the problem is important to you!

Prompt #5: Personal growth.

Just like Prompt #2, the accomplishment or event you write about can be anything from a major milestone to a smaller "aha" moment. Describe the event or accomplishment that shaped you but take care to also show what you learned or how you changed. Colleges are looking for a sense of maturity and introspection—pinpoint the transformation and demonstrate your personal growth. 

Prompt #6: What captivates you?

This prompt is an invitation to write about something you care about. (So avoid the pitfall of writing about what you think will impress the admission office versus what truly matters to you). Colleges are looking for curious students, who are thoughtful about the world around them. The "what or who do you turn to when you want to learn more” bit isn't an afterthought—it's a key piece of the prompt. Make sure you explain how you pursue your interest, as well.

Read More: QUIZ: Test Your College Knowledge!

Prompt #7: Topic of your choice.

This question might be for you if you have a dynamo personal essay from English class to share or were really inspired by a question from another college’s application. You can even write your own question! Whatever topic you land on, the essentials of a standout college essay still stand: 1.) Show the admissions committee who you are beyond grades and test scores and 2.) Dig into your topic by asking yourself how and why. There isn’t a prompt to guide you, so you must ask yourself the questions that will get at the heart of the story you want to tell.

More College Essay Topics

Individual schools sometimes require supplemental essays. Here are a few popular application essay topics and some tips for how to approach them:

Describe a person you admire.

Avoid the urge to pen an ode to a beloved figure like Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln. The admissions committee doesn't need to be convinced they are influential people. Focus on yourself: Choose someone who has actually caused you to change your behavior or your worldview, and write about how this person influenced you .

Why do you want to attend this school?

Be honest and specific when you respond to this question. Avoid generalities like "to get a good liberal arts education” or “to develop career skills," and use details that show your interests: "I'm an aspiring doctor and your science department has a terrific reputation." Colleges are more likely to admit students who can articulate specific reasons why the school is a good fit for them beyond its reputation or ranking on any list. Use the college's website and literature to do your research about programs, professors, and other opportunities that appeal to you.

Read More: 5 Ways College Application Essays and High School Essays Are Different

What is a book you love?

Your answer should not be a book report. 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.

What is an extracurricular activity that has been meaningful to you?

Avoid slipping into clichés or generalities. 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.

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2022-2023 Common App Essay Prompts


The Common App essay prompts will remain the same for 2022-2023. Because as we enter the third year of a global pandemic, consistency is not a bad thing.

That’s not the only reason, of course. We know from our most recent survey on the topic that over 95% of every group who responded--students, counselors, teachers, and admission officers--agree that the prompts spark effective essays. That’s why we kept them the same last year as well, with the exception of adding a new one about gratitude .

As we’ve said in the past, this announcement is not an invitation to juniors to start writing. And it’s definitely not a signal that they start thinking about applying. Those things will come in time. We share this news in January because it’s when some schools begin conversations about college options. It’s a time for learning, reflecting, and planning. That’s where the prompts can be useful: in helping students understand the aspects of their lives that colleges are curious about. 

"We share this news in January because it’s when some schools begin conversations about college options. It’s a time for learning, reflecting, and planning. That’s where the prompts can be useful: in helping students understand the aspects of their lives that colleges are curious about." Scott Anderson, Senior Director, Common App

Something else we’ve said in the past: prompts are not topics. They are simply questions designed to spark thinking. Our Telling Your Story resource shows students just how much flexibility they have in what they write when the time comes.

Below is the full set of essay prompts for 2022-2023. We will also retain the optional COVID-19 question within the Additional Information section.


2023-2024 Common App Essay Prompts


2022 reflections: Bringing joy to college admissions


Common App launches third round of direct admissions pilot with 14 colleges and universities

Ideas, Inspiration, and Giveaways for Teachers

We Are Teachers

60+ College Essay Prompts From Actual 2022-2023 Applications

Ideas to inspire every college applicant.

Jill Staake

Writing a college application essay can be a stressful task for a lot of students. The more practice they get in advance, the better! This round-up of college essay prompts gives applicants a chance to explore their thinking, polish their writing, and prepare to make the best possible impression on selection committees. Every one of these questions is taken from real college applications for the 2022-2023 season, so they’re meaningful and applicable to today’s high school seniors.

Common App 2022-2023 College Essay Prompts

2022-2023 coalition for college essay prompts, life experiences college essay prompts, personal college essay prompts, academics college essay prompts, creative college essay prompts.

Hundreds of colleges and universities use the Common App process . For many schools, this includes responding to one of several college essay topics, which can change each year. Here are the essay prompts for the current application cycle (check with your chosen school/s to see if an essay is required).

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?

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

More than 150 colleges and universities use the Coalition for College process . Here are their essay prompts for 2022-2023.

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

What success have you achieved or obstacle have you faced? What advice would you give a sibling or friend going through a similar experience?

Answer these questions by sharing specific examples from your own experience.

Share an example of how you have used your own critical-thinking skills on a specific subject, project, idea, or interest.

Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes, or contributed to group efforts over time.

These essay topics give schools a better sense of who you are, what you value, and the kind of student citizen you might be.

How has your own background influenced the types of problems you want to solve, the people you want to work with, and the impact you hope your work can have?

If you had the power to change the course of history in your community or the world, what would you do and why?

Topics like these show your academic interests and demonstrate your commitment to learning and discovery.

Academic inquiry starts with bold questions. What are some of the bold questions you have pondered that get you excited, and why do they interest you?

What do you love about the subject(s) you selected as potential major(s)? If undecided, share more about one of your academic passions.

Use these college essay topics to show off your creativity and innovative thinking.

You are tasked with creating a new category for the Nobel Prize. Explain what it would be, why you chose your specific category, and the criteria necessary to achieve this accomplishment.

Imagine that you could have one superpower. What would it be and how would you use it? What would be your kryptonite?

How do you help your students prepare their college application essays? Come share your ideas and ask for advice on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, check out  the ultimate guide to college scholarships.

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Jill Staake is a Contributing Editor with WeAreTeachers. She has a degree in Secondary English Education and has taught in middle and high school classrooms. She's also done training and curriculum design for a financial institution and been a science museum educator. She currently lives in Tampa, Florida where she often works on her back porch while taking frequent breaks for bird-watching and gardening.

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college personal statement prompts

college essay advice tips prompts

For this essay, try finding a part of your identity that will set you apart and highlight the unique perspective you will bring to the university. Try to avoid writing an essay that a school will most likely get a million different times — for example, an essay about your talent playing a sport or your early love of learning. Think about an aspect of your personality, family or upbringing that is truly special.

Don’t be afraid to dig deep and talk about something that may feel vulnerable. Try to conclude with an example of how the failure improved the way you deal with similar situations now. It can be uncomfortable for anyone to admit they’re less-than-great at something, but that honesty can be refreshing, especially if you tell your story in an authentic, relatable way.

In this essay, choose a time that you were able to listen to experiences and perspectives contrary to yours with respect and maturity. Demonstrate that you are able to zoom out from your personal worldview and learn from those you may disagree with. This can not only give colleges an idea of your ability to engage in difficult ideological debates, but also your character and humility.

For this question, don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. It is easy to say a typical world issue — like hunger — but a creative problem can showcase your specific passions and interests and set you apart. An admissions officer is much more likely to remember an applicant who has a very specific essay written in a unique and quirky way.

If you can’t immediately think of a pivotal event for this essay, you may want to skip it and try a different one. Essays like this are best answered with significant and unique moments rather than less important ones.

The defining factor for this essay is what book or movie you choose. Stay away from pop culture novels that many people may use ( Harry Potter , The Hunger Games , etc.) and try to pick a book you have read in school or something unique you read for fun that stayed with you. However, don’t use a book you didn’t enjoy! Inauthenticity will always come through in your writing.

Coordinate tutoring sessions for admission help with a sign up.  SAMPLE

With this prompt, get creative. Don’t simply put 10 things you enjoy — get specific! Pick something you love and give your top 10 — maybe top 10 memories of your life, top 10 favorite books, top 10 quotes, etc. Make sure you give clear explanations of the items on your list as well. The more specific your list is, the better.

For this essay, don’t hesitate to get silly or serious — but make sure you go all the way whichever side you choose! Pick an issue that doesn’t come immediately to mind. Try to pinpoint a specific “a-ha” moment your opinion changed, and make sure to give an example of how your changed perspective has influenced your behavior.

To answer this prompt, go beyond the generic career and family goals. Try to answer things with a personal spin — maybe talk about goals you have for yourself as a person (e.g., to be more kind) or something unique you want to check off your bucket list! 

For this essay, choose a quotation that the admissions officers won’t see over and over. Stay away from individuals who are constantly quoted — like Dr. Seuss — and make 100 percent certain your quote is correctly attributed! Genius Tip : Check out these 25 inspiring volunteer quotes . 

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This is a great opportunity to get creative and share a funny experience! Try transitioning the experience into a more serious explanation of how it changed you — for example, maybe it encouraged you to be more considerate toward others’ feelings. 

For this situation, if you made a poor decision, focus on the way you would change it. On the other hand, if you made a good decision, focus on what influenced you to make that decision and how it has changed you. You might think you have to pick an example where you took a risk, but your essay could be more memorable if you choose a candid example of when you chose to play it safe. 

This is the perfect essay to set yourself apart from other applicants. Talk about that thing you love, that obscure topic you’re an expert about — anything, as long as your passion shines through in your writing! 

This is a great instance to use an essay you’ve already written for another college. (Make sure to include modifications as needed.) This way, you can limit the number of essays you write and focus on quality of writing over quantity of essays. 

Manage student advising appointments with an online sign up.  SAMPLE

Don’t write a generic essay — find an example of advice that was specific and personal to you. Explain why it was so important, and connect it to a specific example in which you did or did not follow it. 

This prompt gives you the opportunity to talk about your passions and show off your extracurricular activities. Make sure to connect the importance of the activity to a certain experience or story to give the essay direction. 

For this prompt, stay away from figures that are likely to be written about by hundreds of potential students (presidents, Mother Teresa, etc.), and pick a figure you are actually passionate about and interested in, rather than what you think sounds most academic. If you want to go personal and choose a family member, make sure you have a memorable and unique reason. 

When writing this essay, pick a topic of interest. Additionally, make sure whatever you write about has a clear, one sentence takeaway that you can stress throughout the essay to give it direction. To prep, watch a few TED talks online to help give your essay voice. 

This essay topic is a great opportunity for humor. Choose a unique topic that others might not think of, and whatever you choose, make sure you know a lot about it! 

For this essay, make sure you think of a turning point that’s also an interesting story. This can be an opportunity to talk about an experience from one of your jobs or extracurricular activities. Tie it in to what you learned and how you’ve taken that lesson and incorporated it into your life. 

This can be a great opportunity to talk about what’s important to you and what beliefs you hold most central to who you are. Center the essay around one experience or time in your life. Don’t play this one down the middle — take a stance and defend it. 

Take this essay as big or as small as you want, but commit to it! Whether you write a funny essay about pet peeves or write one about large social problems, go all the way.  

If you can’t immediately think of a significant day, you probably don’t have a lot of material for this essay. Save this essay for an unusual experience! 

For this essay, focus on a unique accomplishment that illustrates the diversity that you can bring to your university and really tells a lot about who you are. It can be a big or small accomplishment as long as it means a lot to you. 

When writing this essay, either pick a historical, personally significant or futuristic moment, but make sure you are passionate about whichever moment you choose. Begin with explaining the moment’s significance and your desire to experience it, then describe your personal connection to it. 

Organize after-school help with an online sign up.  SAMPLE

In this essay, try to stay positive. Give advice about helpful things the student could do to benefit their high school career, rather than pointing out and seemingly complaining about the negative parts of high school (unless you are really funny) and then giving advice about how to deal with it. Be honest about your high school experiences while also displaying the perspective you have gained. 

Try to be unique for this prompt. Make sure to outline not only your reasons for choosing the invention, but also the impact that the invention not being created would have on the world. 

For this essay: BE SPECIFIC! Colleges can tell when your essay is just a form essay. Make sure your essay mentions specific and unique aspects of the college/university you’re applying to so it’s clear that your essay is not just generic. There’s so much information out there on the Internet that there’s really no excuse for a poorly researched response. 

There are many ways to interpret this kind of prompt. Whether you talk about a political law, religious law, physical law or something else, make sure to connect it your personal experiences. The more unique you are, the more likely an admissions officer will remember your essay. 

In this essay, don’t be afraid to get vulnerable and be specific. Whether you pick a trait or simply a specific memory, connect it to what it means to you personally and why you don’t generally tell people about it. 

Silly or serious, this essay can be fun. Just make sure the amendment is NOT already part of the Constitution, and be sure to outline the impact your new amendment would have. Go a step further by explaining your strategy for getting the amendment passed. 

For this essay, give a few examples of how this person has impacted you. Then, conclude the essay with how you have understood yourself better because of these experiences. 

Stay away from books that are likely to appear many times. This might go without saying, but make sure it’s a book you’ve already read! Rather than just summarizing the book, explain why you’re recommending it. 

If you don’t have a good example for this essay, don’t massage a story to make it fit. You’ll risk sounding privileged. This essay can be good, but it needs to be about a significant moment where you spoke up for someone who couldn’t speak for him/herself. 

In this essay, focus on the interests/activities that you’re passionate about. Make sure to focus your essay around one or two focused and achievable goals. This is also a great opportunity to mention specifics about the college you’re applying to. 

With these prompts and ideas, you’ll be off to a great start on your college applications. One last piece of advice: Give yourself plenty of time to outline ideas and review — don’t wait until the last minute!

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college personal statement prompts

35 College Essay Prompts and Topics

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. While there is no perfect length for an essay, we recommend that you aim for 500 to 650 words. For more information on specific application requirements, please consult the website for each institution to which you are applying, as requirements often vary.

Essay prompts

Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.

What interests or excites you? How does it shape who you are now or who you might become in the future?

Describe a time when you had a positive impact on others. What were the challenges? What were the rewards?

Has there been a time when an idea or belief of yours was questioned? How did you respond? What did you learn?

What success have you achieved or obstacle have you faced? What advice would you give a sibling or friend going through a similar experience?

Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.

Essay-writing advice from My Coalition Counselor:

Consejos para ensayos universitarios de consejeros de admisiones

Future Students  

Current students  , alumni & friends  , faculty & staff  , visitors  , personal statement writing prompts.

Students are encouraged to submit a personal statement along with their application for admission. It should be at least 250 words in length and can be on any of the topics below.

College Transitions

2023-2024 Common App Essay Prompts

The folks at the Common Application have officially announced that the Common App essay prompt menu for the upcoming 2023-24 admissions cycle will remain exactly the same as it was the previous year. In the opinion of the College Transitions staff, the decision to stay the course was a wise one. A quick look at the data shows that the prompts, as presently constituted, received rave reviews across the board—more than 95% of admissions officers, guidance counselors, parents, and students rated the selections positively.

In this blog we will review:

What’s New for 2023-24?

Absolutely nothing! Again, this is a good thing. The Common App seems to have found an array of topics with something to offer just about everyone. Last year, they altered prompt number four, to include an invitation to talk about gratitude, a welcome addition in this crazy pandemic-impacted world in which we find ourselves.

The COVID-19 Optional Essay

The optional COVID-19 question will remain within the Additional Information section. For tips on whether to/how to best utilize this space, check out our blog on the topic —  How to Answer the COVID-19 Question on the Common App.

Common App Essay Word Limit

The Common App essay word limit remains at 650 words. There is also a minimum floor of 250 words.

All 2023-24 Common App Essay Prompts

Which prompts are most popular?

In the most recent cycle reported by the Common App, the most frequently selected topic was #7, the “topic of your choice” essay. This prompt was chosen by 24.1% of applicants. Prompt #5, the “discuss an accomplishment” essay was a close second, attracting 23.7% of seniors. The bronze medal went to prompt #2, the “challenge, setback, or failure” themed essay, which netted 21.1% of Common App filers. Overall, the three most popular prompts accounted for 68.9% of applicants.

Looking for Supplemental Essay Prompts and Advice?

The Essay Section of our blog has you covered with the latest prompts and tips for 50+ top colleges.

Common App Essay Prompts – Advice on brainstorming/writing your essay

The basic rules for writing a stellar college essay vary little from the general guidelines for producing any strong piece of written work: be authentic, tell a story that is personal and compelling, and diligently edit, revise, and polish your product.

Writing an essay that is compelling doesn’t mean that you need to have wrestled a puma, grown up in a cult, or discovered a new galaxy at age seven.  A great college essay can take place on a grand stage but it can just as effectively take place in everyday life.  There is a ready supply of drama, tension, and conflict in a typical day.  Over the course of your life, you have undoubtedly had experiences that constitute worthy essay topics.  Think it over.  Talk to family and friends.  Your compelling story will emerge.

We also invite you to review the following resources to help with your college essay writing:

college personal statement prompts

Dave has over a decade of professional experience that includes work as a teacher, high school administrator, college professor, and independent educational consultant. He is a co-author of the books The Enlightened College Applicant (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016) and Colleges Worth Your Money (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020).

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The 2022-2023 Common App Prompts (7 Example Essays & Analysis)

college personal statement prompts

THEY’RE HERE. The 2022-2023 Common App Prompts have been released and it’s time to slay the beast that is the 650-word Common Application essay. What’s that, you ask? Oh, just the personal statement you’ll be submitting to any of the hundreds of colleges that use the Common App.

You’ve got this. How do I know?

Because I wrote the book on college essays and have worked with thousands of students on their college applications and I have yet to meet a student who couldn’t, with some hard work and a few resources, make this happen.

The Common App is a college admission application with 900 member colleges that students can apply to. The Common App can allow students to submit essays, recommendation letters, and numeric measures like test scores and class rank.


Which Common App Essay Prompt is Best?

What are the Common App Essay Prompts?

According to the 2022/2023 Common Application , they are as follows:

1. Background Essay

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. Challenge Essay

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. Belief Essay

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

4. Gratitude Essay

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

5. Accomplishment Essay

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

6. Topic Essay

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. Create-Your-Own Essay

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.

Note: While you might be tempted to just pick one of the questions and start writing, I say hold off.

Why? I’ll explain in a minute. First, let’s go through a few important questions.

What’s the Common App Essay Word Limit?

650 words. Yep, that’s all you get.

Why are the Common App Essay Prompts Important?

Hundreds of schools use the Common App, so it’s likely that every school you apply to will read your personal statement. This is your chance to tell a story about yourself that tells us more than your test scores and grades do … to let colleges know about the wide range of skills, qualities, values, and interests that have shaped who you are today. And, most importantly, how those skills and values show that you’re prepared to attend college.

Let’s find out which college essay prompt you should choose.

There is no “best’ prompt. And this isn’t just my opinion (though it is also that), but what I know from talking to lots of admission officers. 

Instead, think of these as a few different ways that the folks at the Common App are trying to help you talk about yourself in some interesting ways. And if none of those spark your interest, take a look at prompt #7, which is basically their way of saying, “You can write about your background or identity, a challenge you’ve overcome, a topic or idea that is interesting to you, or… just write about whatever the heck you want.”

So while some students might spend hours agonizing over why topic #6 on the Common App is actually better than topic #3, it’s actually not super useful to spend too much time thinking about it.

Instead, consider that colleges want to know two basic things:

Can you write well?

Will you make valuable contributions on our college campus and beyond?

If your essay provides insight into those two questions, you’re doing great.

In fact, my favorite college essay prompt to get students thinking about possible topics isn’t even on that list. In fact, if I see a student struggling with what to write about, I’ll sometimes give them this prompt:

Describe the world you come from and how it has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

It’s beautiful. The “world you come from” can mean almost anything: your grandma’s cooking, the neighborhood or home country in which you grew up, or even the challenges that you faced at home.

Your “dreams and aspirations” could mean your future career or major, or even just your hope for your city, country, or the world.

So now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s dive into the fun part.

How do you Answer the Common App Essay Prompts?

This is the part I’ve been thinking about for over 15 years.

I answer this question in much more depth in my free guide to the personal statement , but here’s the TL;DR version.

1. It starts with great brainstorming.

When getting started, I recommend that students don’t look at the college essay prompts at all. Instead spend some time digging deep. This blog post has a list of my favorite brainstorming exercises.

By the time you’re done, you should have a giant menu of ideas, images, or experiences from your life that can serve as a potential essay topic, either for your main essay or for your supplemental essays .

2. It continues with finding a solid structure for your essay.

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? If so, consider using what I call what I call a Narrative Structure . 

Or will you focus on a series of moments or images in your life. If so, you might consider using the Montage Structure .

3. Then, it’s lots of revising.

From there, it’s all downhill (but like in the good way). I recommend planning to do 6-8 drafts after getting feedback from your counselor, a teacher, a trusted mentor, or friend.

Either way, the key is to write your deepest story and reveal insight into who you are and what you care about. (If you’re curious, here are the four qualities I think every great college essay should demonstrate.) 

If you need some help revising your essay to improve the flow, I’ve got a full blog post on Revising Your Essay in 5 Steps .

4. Get feedback.

One roadblock to improving stagnant essays is not having an outside perspective. Find a teacher, parent, or peer whose opinion you trust and ask their feedback on what they like about the essay and what they think might improve it. Remember: Sometimes people can give conflicting feedback, so beware of trying to please everyone. If you’re looking for some advanced help on your essay and you can’t afford it, you may qualify for the Matchlighters Scholarship to receive some individualized feedback.

If you and a peer have swapped essays to get each other feedback, you can always follow the guide to giving feedback in the Choose Your Own Adventure Tool .

If you’re at a loss for where to go next and don’t have someone to get feedback from, you can always self-assess using the Great College Essay Test to see if your final draft is doing all of the things a great college essay should.

5. Then decide which prompt fits your essay.

At the end, once it’s time to submit, you can scan the prompts and see which prompt fits best. Often, great personal statements work for multiple prompts.

Don’t see one that fits? Just choose prompt #7.

Lastly, I think it helps to take a look at essays that do a great job. Why?

By seeing what other students have written and seeing a range of topics, structures, and style, you might get some inspiration on how to tell your own story. 

Common App Essay Examples for each Prompt

Here are some of my favorite sample essays, with a bit of analysis on why I like each one so much.

When I was very little, I caught the travel bug. It started after my grandparents first brought me to their home in France and I have now been to twenty-nine different countries. Each has given me a unique learning experience. At five, I marveled at the Eiffel Tower in the City of Lights. When I was eight, I stood in the heart of Piazza San Marco feeding hordes of pigeons, then glided down Venetian waterways on sleek gondolas. At thirteen, I saw the ancient, megalithic structure of Stonehenge and walked along the Great Wall of China, amazed that the thousand-year-old stones were still in place. It was through exploring cultures around the world that I first became interested in language. It began with French, which taught me the importance of pronunciation. I remember once asking a store owner in Paris where Rue des Pyramides was. But when I pronounced it PYR–a–mides instead of pyr–A–mides, with more accent on the A, she looked at me bewildered. In the eighth grade, I became fascinated with Spanish and aware of its similarities with English through cognates. Baseball in Spanish, for example, is béisbol, which looks different but sounds nearly the same. This was incredible to me as it made speech and comprehension more fluid, and even today I find that cognates come to the rescue when I forget how to say something in Spanish. Then, in high school, I developed an enthusiasm for Chinese. As I studied Chinese at my school, I marveled how if just one stroke was missing from a character, the meaning is lost. I loved how long words were formed by combining simpler characters, so Huǒ (火) meaning fire and Shān (山) meaning mountain can be joined to create Huǒshān (火山), which means volcano. I love spending hours at a time practicing the characters and I can feel the beauty and rhythm as I form them. Interestingly, after studying foreign languages, I was further intrigued by my native tongue. Through my love of books and fascination with developing a sesquipedalian lexicon (learning big words), I began to expand my English vocabulary. Studying the definitions prompted me to inquire about their origins, and suddenly I wanted to know all about etymology, the history of words. My freshman year I took a world history class and my love for history grew exponentially. To me, history is like a great novel, and it is especially fascinating because it took place in my own world. But the best dimension that language brought to my life is interpersonal connection. When I speak with people in their native language, I find I can connect with them on a more intimate level. I’ve connected with people in the most unlikely places, finding a Bulgarian painter to use my few Bulgarian words with in the streets of Paris, striking up a conversation in Spanish with an Indian woman who used to work at the Argentinian embassy in Mumbai, and surprising a library worker by asking her a question in her native Mandarin. I want to study foreign language and linguistics in college because, in short, it is something that I know I will use and develop for the rest of my life. I will never stop traveling, so attaining fluency in foreign languages will only benefit me. In the future, I hope to use these skills as the foundation of my work, whether it is in international business, foreign diplomacy, or translation. I think of my journey as best expressed through a Chinese proverb that my teacher taught me, “I am like a chicken eating at a mountain of rice.” Each grain is another word for me to learn as I strive to satisfy my unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Today, I still have the travel bug, and now, it seems, I am addicted to language too. — — —

Tips + Analysis:

Find a thematic thread. After a close read, you’ll notice that the author didn’t necessarily overcome a specific challenge but rather used the Montage Structure to write around a general theme (or multiple themes). In this case, the guiding themes were the student’s love of language and travel. Think of these themes as a clothesline and each body paragraph as a particular article of clothing being hung on it to dry. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t have a narrative story to tell. Notice how well the author gives us a visceral sense of time and place, jumping from different memories and observations about people he’s met and places he’s been. This type of essay gives you tons of room to experiment and cover lots of different topics at once.

Show (don’t tell) your values. One of the most important things to do in your personal statement is give your reader a sense of who you are and what you value . Of course you can’t cover everything, but a great essay (no matter the prompt) will give people a sense of what makes you, well, you. In this essay, some of the core values this author shows are: adventure, culture, curiosity, attention to detail, history, abstract thinking, human connection, and others too. If you’re not totally sure what your values are, that’s totally okay! Check out our Values Exercise to get started.

Think about the future. Whatever type of essay you choose to write, it’s a good idea to spend some time thinking about what’s next. This essay discusses the qualities that he believes will serve him in his future career. But don’t freak out about it. You don’t necessarily have to get hyper-specific about what career you plan to go into (although if you know what you want to do, go for it!). You can also talk about things more generally in terms of the interests or values that guide you so your reader knows you have some sense of direction.

They covered the precious mahogany coffin with a brown amalgam of rocks, decomposed organisms, and weeds. It was my turn to take the shovel, but I felt too ashamed to dutifully send her off when I had not properly said goodbye. I refused to throw dirt on her. I refused to let go of my grandmother, to accept a death I had not seen coming, to believe that an illness could not only interrupt, but steal a beloved life. When my parents finally revealed to me that my grandmother had been battling liver cancer, I was twelve and I was angry--mostly with myself. They had wanted to protect me--only six years old at the time--from the complex and morose concept of death. However, when the end inevitably arrived, I wasn’t trying to comprehend what dying was; I was trying to understand how I had been able to abandon my sick grandmother in favor of playing with friends and watching TV. Hurt that my parents had deceived me and resentful of my own oblivion, I committed myself to preventing such blindness from resurfacing. I became desperately devoted to my education because I saw knowledge as the key to freeing myself from the chains of ignorance. While learning about cancer in school I promised myself that I would memorize every fact and absorb every detail in textbooks and online medical journals. And as I began to consider my future, I realized that what I learned in school would allow me to silence that which had silenced my grandmother. However, I was focused not with learning itself, but with good grades and high test scores. I started to believe that academic perfection would be the only way to redeem myself in her eyes--to make up for what I had not done as a granddaughter.   However, a simple walk on a hiking trail behind my house made me open my own eyes to the truth. Over the years, everything--even honoring my grandmother--had become second to school and grades. As my shoes humbly tapped against the Earth, the towering trees blackened by the forest fire a few years ago, the faintly colorful pebbles embedded in the sidewalk, and the wispy white clouds hanging in the sky reminded me of my small though nonetheless significant part in a larger whole that is humankind and this Earth. Before I could resolve my guilt, I had to broaden my perspective of the world as well as my responsibilities to my fellow humans.    Volunteering at a cancer treatment center has helped me discover my path. When I see patients trapped in not only the hospital but also a moment in time by their diseases, I talk to them. For six hours a day, three times a week, Ivana is surrounded by IV stands, empty walls, and busy nurses that quietly yet constantly remind her of her breast cancer. Her face is pale and tired, yet kind--not unlike my grandmother’s. I need only to smile and say hello to see her brighten up as life returns to her face. Upon our first meeting, she opened up about her two sons, her hometown, and her knitting group--no mention of her disease. Without even standing up, the three of us—Ivana, me, and my grandmother--had taken a walk together. Cancer, as powerful and invincible as it may seem, is a mere fraction of a person’s life. It’s easy to forget when one’s mind and body are so weak and vulnerable. I want to be there as an oncologist to remind them to take a walk once in a while, to remember that there’s so much more to life than a disease. While I physically treat their cancer, I want to lend patients emotional support and mental strength to escape the interruption and continue living. Through my work, I can accept the shovel without burying my grandmother’s memory. — — —

Tips + Analysis

Start with a great hook. Before you can tell your reader anything about yourself, they have to be invested enough to keep reading. That’s why your first couple sentences are so important . Think of writing your personal statement as a first date, you want to make a great impression from the very beginning. Starting with an interesting detail, funny anecdote, or shocking moment are a couple ways to do that. In this essay, the author does a great job of hooking us in with the visceral details about his grandmother’s funeral and the complex set of emotions he felt in the moment. It doesn’t take up too much of the word count, but afterwards, you can’t help but want to read more.

Be vulnerable. This is one of the most important tips we can give you about writing your personal statement. A great essay should give your reader critical insights into what motivates or interests you and that requires a level of vulnerability. Does this mean you need to tell them every part of your life story? Definitely not. But notice in this essay how raw the topic is for the author and how honest he is about his feelings. Seeing him struggle with the death of a loved one helps us understand how he thinks and allows us to empathize with him. And, to be vulnerable, you don’t have to write about a topic like a death in the family. Being vulnerable is as simple as digging into the “why.” You may not have gone through something life changing or traumatic like this author, but we promise you that you have tons to offer. Connect your experiences to your values and don’t be afraid to pose questions you don’t quite know the answer to yet. The more care you put into your essay, the more your reader will care as well.

Find your narrative arc. Unlike the first example essay, this one follows a Narrative Structure . This is a great structure for this student because they faced a significant challenge and could break it down into an initial challenge (their grandmother dying), what they did about it (channeled their grief into school and then eventually into volunteering and the cancer center), what they learned (they want to be an oncologist). These three components afford them a natural narrative arc for their essay that is satisfying to read and gives us a sense of how an important event/person shaped the person they are today. This author knows what career path they’re interested in pursuing, but if you’re not totally sure what you want to do in the future but have a significant challenge to write about, you can just talk about what you learned in more value-based terms (ie. I became more resourceful, this experience spurred an interest in artistic collaboration and creativity, etc.).

For over two years, my final class of the day has been nontraditional. No notes, no tests, no official assignments. Just a twenty-three minute lecture every Monday through Thursday, which I watched from my couch. Professor Jon Stewart would lecture his class about the news of the day, picking apart the absurdities of current events. The Daily Show inspired me to explore the methods behind the madness of the world Stewart satirized. Although I’d always had a passion for the news, I evolved from scrolling through Yahoo ’s homepage to reading articles from The New York Times and The Economist . I also began to tie in knowledge I learned in school. I even caught The Daily Show inexcusably putting a picture of John Quincy Adams at a table with the founding fathers instead of John Adams! Thanks, APUSH.   Clearly, The Daily Show has a political slant. However, Stewart convinced me that partisan media, regardless of its political affiliation, can significantly impact its viewers’ political beliefs. I wrote a psychology paper analyzing the polarizing effects of the media and how confirmation bias leads already opinionated viewers to ossify their beliefs. As a debater, I’ve learned to argue both sides of an issue, and the hardest part of this is recognizing one’s own biases. I myself had perhaps become too biased from my viewing of The Daily Show , and ultimately this motivated me to watch CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, allowing me to assimilate information from opposing viewpoints. I embraced my new role as an intellectual moderator in academic discourse… at my friend’s 17th birthday party. It was there that two friends started arguing over the Baltimore riots. One argued that the anti-police rhetoric of the protest was appalling; the other countered by decrying the clear presence of race discrimination still in the country. Both had their biases: the friend who argued on behalf of the police was the son of a police officer, while my friend who defended the protests personally knew people protesting in Baltimore. I questioned both on their positions, and ultimately, both reconsidered the other’s perspective. However, I began to wonder: was I excusing myself from the responsibility of taking a position on key issues? Perhaps there are times that I shouldn’t merely understand both sides, but actually choose one. In biology, for example, we studied the debates over evolution and climate change. Is it my role, as an informed student, to advocate both sides of the debate, despite one side being overwhelmingly supported by scientific evidence? Maybe I must sometimes shed my identity as Devil’s advocate and instead be an advocate for my own convictions. Although I don’t have a news (or fake news) network where I can voice my opinions, I look towards further assessing my own viewpoints while maintaining my role as an impartial academic debater. I am eager to delve into an intellectual environment that challenges me to decide when to be objective and when to embrace my bias and argue for my own beliefs. — — —

Demonstrate craft. While content is important, craft is what’ll bring the best stories to life. In some shorter supplemental essays , you might be more pressed in terms of word count and you may have to sacrifice poetry in favor of the facts. But, in the personal statement, it’s really important to demonstrate your ability to communicate relevant information in an interesting way. That’s why it’s helpful to think of writing as a process—it’s very rare that we’ve seen an outstanding personal statement that didn’t go through at least 5 drafts. Everything you write should be carefully considered . You don’t want your ideas to come off as sloppy or half-baked. Your reader should see the care you put into brainstorming and writing in every sentence. Notice how well this author uses the idea of having Jon Stewart of The Daily Show as his “teacher” every Friday, into his interest in debate and unbiased journalism/information. Through and through, the piece is clever, engaging, and unexpected in the best ways.

Show insight and growth. Your personal statement should ideally have at least 3-5 “so what” moments, points at which you draw insights or reflections from your experiences that speak to your values or sense of purpose. Sometimes, “so what” moments are subtle. Other times, they’re more explicit. Either way, the more illuminating, the better. They shouldn’t come out of nowhere, but they also shouldn’t be predictable. You want the reader to see your mind in action and take that journey of self-reflection with you. In this essay, the author questions whether or not he is using his dedication to impartiality as an excuse not to take sides on important issues. And although this tension isn’t fully resolved, his awareness of this potential blind spot is an example of a “so what” moment because it shows his increased ability to think critically about his own biases (or lack thereof) and demonstrates a new level of maturity as he develops his sense of self.

Embed your values in your essay. In a great personal statement, we should be able to get a sense of what fulfills, motivates, or excites the author. These can be things like humor, beauty, community, and autonomy, just to name a few. So when you read back through your essay, you should be able to detect at least 4-5 different values throughout. For instance, in this essay, the author emphasizes values like truth, honesty, clear communication, and introspection. When you look for these values in your own essay, also consider whether or not they’re varied or similar. For instance, values like hard work, determination, and perseverance … are basically the same thing. On the other hand, more varied values like resourcefulness, healthy boundaries, and diversity can showcase different qualities and offer a more nuanced sense of who you are.

What are you? I’ve been asked this question most of my life because people don’t know what to make of a face that’s both Japanese and Caucasian. But when I think about who I am, I think of Baba and Jiji. I think about making our favorite recipes, how each dish tastes a little bit different according to “ingredients” like the hour, place, or conversation. Much like these recipes, I am always changing in response to the things I learn from the people I love. One hot dog, a buttery rice ball, and a dash of shoyu. The butter and shoyu’s saltiness, the hot dogs’ smokiness, the nostalgia of every spoonful. They take me back to New York, where my grandparents lived only minutes away. Several days a week, a common scene unfolded in our apartment: Jiji stacked animals with me and my sister, while Baba serenaded us with the clink of pans in the kitchen as she prepared her signature “butter rice”. The pure joy I felt in those fleeting moments are important for me to remember because they keep my definition of joy alive and clear. A nori sheet, sticky rice, one shiso leaf, and two sashimi slices. The nori’s texture contrasts with the chewiness of the fish and rice, but this dish’s tastiest elements were the vegetables Baba carefully picked from the supermarket. What made them truly special was how we constructed and ate them between turns on Mahjong. Our family’s tradition of making handrolls and playing board games emerged after my grandparents moved to Hawaii to be closer to Japan. As our visits became less frequent, I began to grasp the lengths my family took to conserve our relationship with Baba and Jiji. With every trip, I grew more appreciative of the time we spent together, which deepened my understanding of joy by seeing that it creates ground from which gratitude can grow. Steaming shoyu broth, a boiled egg, bean sprouts, three nori sheets, and a serving of noodles. During my two-week visit to Japan, I had dozens of ramen bowls and traveled on the Shinkansen from the Golden Pavilion to the Fushimi-Inari Trail. However, what surprised me most about Japan was what I learned about my grandparents. Seeing them run errands, meet with friends, and take walks together gave me a sense of admiration for Baba and Jiji as individuals who led their own lives, rather than simply as doting grandparents. This admiration not only made me grateful for the time we shared; it brought me greater awareness of myself. I reflected on our experiences together to connect with my Japanese identity rather than relying on their physical presence in my life. When I heard Baba and Jiji wouldn’t be visiting anymore, I felt worried. Worried about what would happen to all our traditions of food and board games, worried that without them there, all the memories would fade away. But my relationship with Baba and Jiji has grown stronger by weathering time and distance. It’s become a part of who I am: a person who values change as a constant; a person who sees myself through the shifting lens of relationships rather than as a fixed set of traits; a person who employs joy, gratitude, and awareness to move through the world. — — —

Dig into the details. One of the main things that makes this essay stand out is the author’s incredible attention to detail. He uses sensorial observations about food he’s eaten as the thematic string to tie his essay together (if you’re wanting to find a theme or object like this for yourself, check out our Essence Objects brainstorming exercise). Notice how the first sentence of each body paragraph comes back to the details that root him in his culture and family (ie. “One hot dog, a buttery rice ball, and a dash of shoyu,” “A nori sheet, sticky rice, one shiso leaf, and two sashimi slices,” etc). Not only do these make the essay more fun and unique to read by harnessing the power of the senses, they also give us a consistent structure to orient ourselves throughout the piece. The more specific details you can give, the more you’ll be able to differentiate yourself from other applicants.

Ask questions. This essay actually starts with one—”What are you?” Don’t be afraid to reflect and ask big questions like this in your essay. Nobody knows the answer to everything, especially at this stage in your life. Don’t approach questions as a point of weakness, but rather as a source of strength and personal growth. Knowing how to ask a good question demonstrates a level of awareness, humility, and maturity that will endear you to readers rather than put them off. 

Embrace the “and” of identity. Another great aspect of this essay is the author’s approach to understanding his own identity. Like everyone, he’s multifaceted, with different components to his family lineage and cultural background. Rather than try to condense these different facets of his identity into one thing for the sake of a clear narrative, he actually uses his personal statement to reconcile the tension between them and the messiness of trying to find a succinct narrative. In your essay, don’t be afraid to do the same thing! You don’t necessarily have to solve the tension between different values you uphold, identities you have, or communities of which you are a part. Articulately thinking through their complexities can be a really powerful way to approach the personal statement.

February 2011– My brothers and I were showing off our soccer dribbling skills in my grandfather’s yard when we heard gunshots and screaming in the distance. 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. On my way to school, I nervously passed burning tires and angry protesters shouting “Yaskut Hamad! “ [“Down with King Hamad!”]. 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 2013– 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 2014– 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.   April 2016 – The Crown Prince International Scholarship Program (CPISP) is an intensive leadership training program where participants are chosen on merit, not political ideologies. 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. July 2016 – The CPISP reaffirmed for me the importance of cooperation. At first, building chairs out of balloons and skyscrapers out of sticks didn’t seem meaningful. 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 2016 – 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. — — —

Use structure to enhance clarity. Rather than be intimidated by the 650-word count, think about how you can break down your essay into smaller, bite-sized pieces. The author here does this through chronology, linking each paragraph to a specific time up until the present moment. This is helpful on a practical level because it prevents things from becoming one dense paragraph that’s hard to read. It’s also nice from a content point of view because it groups similar themes or experiences together in an intuitive way. This is especially helpful for a Narrative Essay like this one because it helps us visualize the distinct parts of the story rather than try to figure it out on our own. In a sense, an effective structure helps set a good pace for the narrative and acts as a visual guide for readers. We’d recommend using the Feelings and Needs Exercise if you need some help figuring out which components of your narrative you a) want to write about and b) need to group together.

Always bring it back to you . Some students choose to write their personal statements about complex and politically-charged topics. And that’s a great idea if it’s something that connects to your values, culture, identity, and/or life experiences. However, a lot of these kinds of topics are very nuanced and have deep-rooted histories that would take years to fully understand. Remember, while you may be focusing on a specific event, conflict, or place, this essay is ultimately about you and what you want out of your college experience. Don’t get so lost in the weeds of explaining something that you forget to tie it to your own choices, values, thoughts, or aspirations. This author does a great job of that. Although he’s talking about his experience of a bigger event (the Arab Spring), he connects it back to clubs he’s led or academic paths he’d like to pursue in the future. Remember to keep the majority of the essay centered around you even if the context for it is bigger than just your story.

Vary sentence and paragraph length. If you want to keep your reader engaged throughout your essay, it’s important to think about how you can use structure to pace your writing. Notice how most of this student’s paragraphs are no more than 3-4 sentences max. He doesn't drone on about one topic for long or try to cram everything into a huge, dense block of text that’s impossible to read. Short sentences and sentence fragments can also be your friend. If used well, they can create impact and help draw the reader’s attention to a specific idea or value. In other words, be intentional with how you write and structure your piece.

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 9: N+B=Z M^2=P E-(L+B)=G C/Y=Z-Q B+B=Y (D-V)^9-(P*L)=J W=(I-V)^2 Y+B+C=R O^2+(Y*O)=T F^3-(T+W)=F^2 V-R=H-U A^3-C=N Y^2+B=L J^2-J=J+(P+I) Y^3=X X-R=M-O D*A-B-(V+Y)=E U-X-O=W P/P=B S-A=U (Z+B)*C=P C(+/-)B=A U+C=H R-L=S-T 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." It was a silly and simple game, but I remember being awed that I could create my own levels. 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. — — —

Take creative risks. Okay so, it’s not exactly normal to see a 24-line math equation right smack dab in the middle of a personal statement. That being said, it’s actually a very effective strategy given the interests and narrative voice of this particular student. It highlights his clear penchant for math at a young age and shows his fascination with numeric experimentation. It breaks up the flow of the essay in a way that’s a breath of fresh air. Actually, by showing his experimentation with equations, he’s also experimenting with how he writes, highlighting his creativity on two levels! Of course, you never want to sacrifice clarity or content for a creative gimmick but when it will really help your reader see your thought process in action, we would definitely urge you to give it a go. This is what first, second, third, and however many more drafts are for!

Use “geeky” language, when possible. Don’t be afraid to show off your interest-specific knowledge—but in a way that doesn’t feel off-putting. This student takes a nice approach of not going overboard when discussing mathematical concepts and computer programming, while also making sure the reader knows he has some expertise in this area through illustrative details and occasional definitions.

Go back in time as far (or as little) as it seems relevant. Many people stress over trying to fit everything about themselves into this one 650-word personal statement. Our advice? You can’t fit everything in and you shouldn’t try to. What you’re trying to do here is use one theme, object, or story to illustrate your core interests and values. In this case, the author is emphasizing his love of freedom and experimentation as well as his aspirations to pursue a degree in computer science. Now, clearly he’s been interested in mathematics for a long time, but that doesn’t mean he has to tell us every detail about his life from the age of two onward. Instead, he picks and chooses moments at different points in time that speak to the core of who he is and what he loves. The first paragraph is about his days as a toddler and the second is nearly seven years later. And after that, he jumps forward to things he’s done in high school and wants to do in college. That’s totally okay! As you think about your essay, don’t stress about cramming everything in. Rather, pick out a couple great moments you can highlight that will show your reader the most important takeaways.

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. I don’t mind it, either. For that matter, I also don’t mind being pecked at, hissed at, scratched and bitten—and believe me, I have experienced them all. I don’t mind having to skin dead mice, feeding the remaining red embryonic mass to baby owls. (Actually, that I do mind a little.) I don’t mind all this because when I’m working with animals, I know that even though they probably hate me as I patch them up, their health and welfare is completely in my hands. 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. That hesitation didn’t simply stem from my inherent love of animals. 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. I couldn’t just abandon them. I couldn’t just abandon them the same way I couldn’t let big oil companies completely devastate the Arctic, earth’s air conditioner. The same way I couldn’t ignore the oceans, where destructive fishing practices have been wiping out ocean life. 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. Maybe I do it just to ease my own conscience, so I can tell people “At least I did something.” I hope that it’s not just that. I hope it’s because my mother always told me to treat others as I want to be treated, even if I sometimes took this to its logical extreme, moving roadkill to the bushes along the side of the road because “Ma, if I was hit by a car I would want someone to move me off the road, too.”  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. And while I’m sure I will be dumped on many times, both literally and metaphorically, I won’t do the same to others. — — —

Choose a topic you’re genuinely interested in and passionate about. This may seem obvious, but you don’t want to talk about something just because you think it’s what colleges want to hear. If you don’t care that much about it, that’ll likely be reflected in the essay you write. It’s so clear from this author’s language how much she genuinely cares about taking care of the world around her. If anything, we see that it’s in her very nature to lend a helping hand when she sees something or someone in need (even if it means she has to get pooped on). Try picking a topic that shows off several different facets of your personality and skill set while also staying true to your authentic interests.

Give us a glimpse into your world. One thing that stands out about this essay is the clarity the author has about specific moments and memories around animals and the environment. She then is able to connect these details (like her tendency to move roadkill or get pooped on) to values like empathy and advocacy. Using the 21 Details Exercise will help you identify these moments or observations in your own life and connect them to values. 

Be funny… or don’t. This author does a great job of using humor and sarcasm about her tendency to get pooped on as a lighthearted way to address meaningful connections she’s made with animals and the dedication she has to helping them. However, while humor is a great tool to use in some cases, it’s not the only way to write a great essay. If you’re a person who’s comfortable cracking a joke or two, go for it. If being funny doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t try and force it. Remember the personal statement can essentially be about anything and written in any way. The key is finding your authentic voice and channeling it into a topic that feels true to you.




Watch the lessons on your own or via the live option. 

college personal statement prompts


How To Answer the 2023-24 Common App Essay Prompts

Looking for help with the 2023-24 Common Application Essay? Below CEA’s Founder, Stacey Brook, breaks down all you need to know about this year’s prompts.

Stacey - College Essay Advisors Founder

Stacey Brook, Founder and Chief Advisor

Hello, students and parents of the future class of 2028! The time has come. The Common App essay prompts for 2023-24 have been released and—spoiler alert—they’re exactly the same as last year’s! 2023-24 college applicants, like those who came before them, will have seven (that’s right, seven) essay prompts to choose from. 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. Students’ personal stories and feats of insight will again be relegated to 650 words, which equates to a little more than a single-spaced page. We happen to believe this is the perfect amount of space in which to make a quick and powerful impression with admissions (or write a comprehensive fan letter to Beyoncé), so as far as we’re concerned, you’re golden.

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!) into our pool of essay advice, we’d like to leave you with one last little secret: the prompts are not actually as important as you think they are . 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 . For now, the main point we want you to take away is this: The prompts don’t really matter. 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!) to communicate to admissions. All it takes is ample time for reflection and a little writerly elbow grease to find it. So take a peek at what the 2023-24 application has in store for you, absorb what these prompts are really asking, and then forget about them (really!) as you explore the endless possibilities.

How To Write Common App Prompt #1: The Background Essay

Common Application Prompt 1

PROMPT #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.

The Common App’s Prompt #1 is the Old Faithful of essay questions. It’s been around for years and offers all the flexibility an applicant could ask for from a prompt, with just enough direction to get those creative fountains flowing. Focus on the key words, “background,” “identity,” “interest,” and “talent,” and use them as launch points for your brainstorming. 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?) or as large as the struggle of moving to a foreign country (especially if you had to leave behind grandma’s cooking). The most important thing to consider for this prompt is that your subject and/or perspective is dynamic and specific to you and who you are and no one else.

Some questions to ask yourself as you brainstorm:

And some examples to consider:

Overall, this prompt is what we at College Essay Advisors call a “choose-your-own-adventure” prompt. It has historically served as a fabulous catch-all for subjects that don’t fit within the confines of the other prompt options. A recent addition to the Common App’s prompt selection now offers even more freedom to applicants (more on that later), but students should still think of Prompt #1 as a topic of immense choice, reeled in by a few helpful guidelines.

How To Write Common App Prompt #2: The Setback Essay

Common Application Prompt 2

PROMPT #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?

We have always believed that essays about overcoming obstacles are most effective when they focus more on solutions than problems. Accordingly, Prompt #2 essays should be predominantly filled with a student’s response, outlook, and demeanor when presented with one of life’s many hurdles, rather than a detailed account of the hurdle itself. 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. While the possibilities are almost endless, students should be careful not to choose challenges that may seem trite (the inability to achieve an A on an exam and/or secure tickets to that BTS concert) or that illustrate a lapse in good judgment (that time you crashed your car or ate 15 bags of Cheetos in one sitting). 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.

Some key questions to consider:

And a few examples to think about:

Overall, try to keep these stories as positive as possible. Remember, these essays are not contemplative musings on your toughest times or reflections on the hiccups that populate everyday life (though these things can certainly be touched upon); they are about overcoming obstacles and refusing to submit to life’s greatest challenges.

How To Write Common App Prompt #3: The Challenger Essay

Common Application Prompt 3

PROMPT #3: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

This remains one of the most challenging prompts of the Common App’s selection, even though it has become slightly friendlier with the addition of the option to discuss a time you questioned an idea instead of challenged one. 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.

That said, a response to this prompt can be incisive and deeply personal, as it was for a student who stood up to her parents’ old-fashioned outlook on feminism. 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!

Consider these questions as you brainstorm:

And here are a few examples for you to ponder:

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.

How To Write Common App Prompt #4: The Gratitude Essay

Common Application Prompt 4

PROMPT #4: Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

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!) This question is meant to offer students the opportunity to reflect on the role gratitude plays in their lives, as well as how the practice of giving thanks and acknowledging life’s gifts motivates and inspires them. 

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. 

Some questions to ponder:

And examples to use as food for thought:

It’s important that the story you choose to tell is linked to your life and world in a meaningful way. 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. And don’t forget to detail how this gift affected you then and still motivates you now. Once you’ve settled into your prompt of choice, following instructions to the fullest and answering all parts of each question are critical.

How To Write Common App Prompt #5: The Accomplishment Essay

Common Application Prompt 5

PROMPT #5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

There are a few things to note when unpacking this prompt. Keep in mind that the words “accomplishment” and “event” leave themselves open to interpretation; thus, an essay inspired by this question can tackle anything from a formal event to a very small occurrence. 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.

Your reflection on what you have learned and how you have grown will be a source of great insight for admissions, and you want to make sure your essay highlights the intangible qualities that don’t show up anywhere else on an application.

Some other things to consider:

For example:

The most important things to keep in mind when searching for these moments are the elements of growth, understanding, and transformation. The event, accomplishment, or realization you discuss should be something that helped you understand the world around you through a different, more mature lens.

How To Write Common App Prompt #6: The Passion Essay

Common Application Prompt 6

PROMPT #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?

One could argue that college is largely about the pursuit of knowledge, so you can imagine it would be quite appealing for an admissions officer to have a meter for your level of self-motivated learning, along with a better understanding of how and why you choose to pay attention to the things that intrigue you. This is a window into your brain: how you process information, how you seek out new sources of content and inspiration. How resourceful are you when your curiosity is piqued to the fullest? The answer to this prompt should also reveal something to admissions about the breadth or depth of your interests. For example, if you’re interested in studying astrophysics, you might choose to discuss a concept that shows how far your exploration of the sciences truly reaches. How consumed are you by this passion you are choosing to pursue academically?

And a few examples to get those wheels turning:

Whatever you’re into, embrace it. Show your feathers. Let your freak flag fly (within reason, obvs). This prompt is about the pursuit of knowledge and your desire to proactively challenge yourself. Whether you are devouring the classics on your Kindle or nerding out over the perfect cheese for calzone-making, your attachment to a subject may inspire admissions to want to learn more about it…and you.

How To Write Common App Prompt #7: Topic of Your Choice

Common Application Prompt 7

PROMPT #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.

Feared by some, coveted by others, and legendary in its existence; regardless of where you stand on the issue, this was a newsworthy addition to the 2017-18 Common App prompt choices. For years, students have been treating Prompt #1 (which asks about your background, etc.) as topic of your choice *light*—it wasn’t exactly the delicious, full-freedom version students were looking for, but they were able to make it work in a pinch. Applicants around the world likely let out a big exhale when they saw they could still serve up a big scoop of Prompt #7 to admissions in previous seasons. And this year will be no different.

Some questions to consider as you brainstorm, in addition to all of the ones we’ve posed thus far:

And a few examples of potential subjects and their related (custom!) prompts:

While being able to write about whatever you wish sounds great in theory, some students find—especially at the beginning of the brainstorming process—that they are debilitated by the “topic of your choice” option because it offers  too   much choice. If that is the case, fear not! Use some of the other prompts as starting points for your brainstorming and free writing journeys. Begin keeping a diary ( now! ) and jot down subjects, events, and memories as they float to the surface. Now that you have read our handy-dandy prompt guide and understand what admissions is looking for from these prompts, you could very well have a notebook filled with ideas that are ripe for expansion by the time you sit down to write.

So don’t worry about having too many ideas, or not having enough ideas, especially at the beginning of the topic selection process. Once you figure out what you’d like to say (and maybe even after you draft the crux of the essay itself), see if your concept fits one of the first six prompts. Trying to tailor your essay to a more specific prompt option may inspire an interesting spin on the story you are trying to tell—one you may not have thought of otherwise. Form influences content. If, after careful consideration, your magic essay topic does not work within the confines of Prompts 1-6, you are in luck. The glorious, all-encompassing Prompt #7 will be here to catch you.

With some brainstorming and hard work, every student can uncover a story worth telling in response to one of these prompts. Remember, admissions wants a glimpse of your personality, your values, your interests and your passions. They want to get an idea of what kind of attitude and energy you will bring to the classroom and campus life.

So take a few minutes to probe your memories, collect your stories and strike up that creative core. Every student has a fabulous essay inside of them – these prompts can help you find yours.

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Personal Statement

Personal Statement Prompts

Barbara P

Personal Statement Prompts: Topics & Ideas for Student

Published on: Apr 7, 2021

Last updated on: Jan 3, 2023

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A personal statement is a form of writing that an applicant drafts when applying for a college or a university. When applying to jobs or degree programs, students are often asked to draft this essay.

Depending on the institution you are applying to, the personal statement prompt may vary. Although, the format and purpose of this writing remain the same.

A personal statement is written against the prompt or essay question provided. In this article, multiple personal statement prompts are provided to give you an idea of how to develop a professional piece.

Continue reading the guideline and get help from the prompts given.

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Introduction to Personal Statement Prompt

Being the most important part of the application process, it is fundamental to draft this piece professionally. Therefore, applicants are required to present themselves in this essay and state why they are the best choice for the institute.

Moreover, a personal statement demands students to provide all the reasons why they should be a part of the college.

Writing a  personal statement  is a time-consuming task. From deciding on the prompt to finally put everything on paper, it requires countless steps. A personal statement prompt is a major question on which your document is based.

The writing process of the statement becomes much easier if you have chosen an accurate prompt. Some colleges and universities provide students with the prompt, while others provide a chance for you to go creative.

In either way, your document should answer the prompt clearly and to the point. Expert writers of have provided some prompts that can be of help when drafting your personal statement.

College Personal Statement Prompts

Writing a personal statement for your dream college can be really overwhelming. A general prompt that will help your application stand out would be a writhing based on your qualities and strengths. Also, an application would be incomplete without a good prompt.

In order to provide a direction, the following are some of the prompts to write an exceptional personal statement for college:

Personal Statement Prompts for Graduate Schools

When applying to a graduate school, a lot of documents are submitted. From recommendation letters to academic results, an applicant gathers different documents to persuade the admissions committee.

The weightage of a good personal statement is heavier than all the other documents. So if you want to get a seat in your preferred graduate school, choose a good prompt for your statement.

Following personal statement prompts can be used when applying for a reputable graduate school:

Common App Personal Statement Prompt

The common app personal statement prompt demands the applicant to share a story. Colleges often require students to submit a personal statement along with their documents to examine their creative skills. Moreover, a personal statement also provides a chance to impress the committee with your personality, qualities, and knowledge.

The following are some prompts for your common app personal statement. Select one and draft an effective piece.

UC Personal Statement Prompts

The UC application can be tricky. In this, students are required to draft 4 essays out of 8 provided prompts. Each essay that you draft not only asks for the answer of the prompt but also an interesting incident or story.

Below are some examples of personal statement prompts for your UC and CSU applications:

Law School Personal Statement Prompts

Students are to write personal statements when applying for law schools as well. This provides them with an opportunity to inspire the law admission committee. Sharing ideas like who you actually are and what you are passionate about.

The following are some good prompt examples for your law school personal statements:

Personal Statement Prompt Example

In order to address the prompts professionally, it is advised to go through a plethora of interesting personal statement prompts. This is to get an idea about the overall structure and formation of your personal statement.

The expert personal statement writers of have provided an example of a strong personal essay. Read the sample provided to learn who to answer the prompt in the best possible way.

Sample Personal Statement (PDF)

Following the sample provided will let you draft a perfectly structured personal statement. Impress the admission committee with your college essay and get an opportunity to study in your dream college.

Writing an impressive and impactful personal statement can be really daunting. If you are scared and cannot risk your chance, get help for your  college essay  from professional essay writers.  is a professional writing company that provides services for all your academic assignments and papers. Be it a simple essay or a complex research paper, writers on our team can help you draft an amazing document.

In order to avail of our custom writing services, place your  order , and get quality assignments at the most reasonable prices.

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

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  1. Popular College Application Essay Topics (and How to Answer Them)

    Prompt #1: Share your story. · Prompt #2: Learning from obstacles. · Prompt #3: Challenging a belief. · Prompt #4: Solving a problem. · Prompt #5: Personal growth.

  2. 2022-2023 Common App Essay Prompts

    The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or

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    Personal College Essay Prompts · What drives you to create, and what do you hope to make or have you made? · Which book, character, song

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    35 College Essay Prompts and Topics · Describe a facet of your identity, background or story that is essential to who you are. · Write about a time that you

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    Essay prompts · Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. · What interests or excites

  6. Personal Statement Writing Prompts

    Personal Statement Writing Prompts · Have you faced a challenge or failure? · We are looking for students who will become positive additions to our student body.

  7. 2023-2024 Common App Essay Prompts

    In the most recent cycle reported by the Common App, the most frequently selected topic was #7, the “topic of your choice” essay. This prompt

  8. The 2022-2023 Common App Prompts (7 Example Essays & Analysis)

    How do you choose the best college essay prompt? Learn how to choose the best Common App essay prompt for writing your personal statement

  9. How To Answer the 2023-24 Common App Essay Prompt

    PROMPT #3: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? · When has your opinion been

  10. Personal Statement Prompts: Topics & Ideas for Student

    UC Personal Statement Prompts · Describe your greatest skill or talent that differentiates you from other applicants. · Share your leadership