The Common Application released its essay prompts for 2017-2018. There are now seven essay prompts and the “Topic Of Your Choice” prompt has returned. Listed below, you can see which are new, revised or those that are unchanged. Students need to choose one and write an essay of up to 650 words. Rising seniors who want to get a head start on their college essay are set to go!
2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts
1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. (No change)
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? (Revised)
3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? (Revised)
4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma – anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. (No change)
5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. (Revised)
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? (New)
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. (New)
Here are some suggestions we recommend to help you in writing your Common Application essay where you can stand out:
– Brainstorm possible topics – this could be absolutely anything – Slice of life stories can be very appealing and just as noteworthy if the writing is exceptional. It’s not necessary to write about some major event or achievement. Keep a file of life stories, specific moments and experiences. Think about how you have applied lessons you have learned. Read current college essay prompts and see if your ideas integrate.
– Discuss your ideas with people you know. Listen to suggestions and elaborate on your thoughts. What do others think of your topics? Which ideas are discriminating and distinguish you as a strong applicant at your dream college?
– Don’t rush – pace yourself well so that you have plenty of time to relax and write
– Find a comfortable setting where your thoughts and ideas can flourish. Really like what you write about and mean it.
– Once you have completed your “Free Write” go back and look at the specific essay prompts. The Common App Prompts can each inspire deep thoughts – Select the one where you feel most sincere and authentic. Remember that your writing is quality over quantity so no need to write many rough drafts. Connect your topic ideas to the prompts and write a brief outline defining the paragraphs of your essay. This is where you may start to think about your opening “the grabber” and how to sustain interest. Keep track of the required word count.
– Once you have your topic ideas and your general outline, you can begin writing out your rough draft.
Having reviewed countless Common Application essays, below are some things we see and things you should do to prevent errors.
– Writing that does not emphasize the writer’s strength of character
– Essays that make every effort to portray the writer as “perfect” and just try too hard.
– Essays that don’t reflect the writer’s passion, curiosity and inspirations.
– Contrived transitions that don’t connect
– Narratives that do not engage the reader
– Repeating what is on the activity resume
– Dull openings that quickly lose interest
– Using quotes that don’t connect or add anything to the essay
– Essays that don’t realize the intent of the prompt and don’t answer all the questions asked
– Essays that look too much like everyone else’s. Common topics like community service in a foreign country, overcoming an obstacle and winning, a relationship with a close relative where the relative is the emphasis of the essay, winning a sporting event must remain unique with a well-told story.
– Writing what you think admission officers want to read and therefore not your true self – using a thesaurus to impress
– Too much written in the passive voice.
– Not keeping language specific – writing too generally about too many things
– Use of slang or relaxed language
It is best to begin as soon as possible in order to present your best self and give your writing the time, thought and diligence it deserves!