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

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❶What sets them apart is the way the author approaches the topic:

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The key to these types of questions is to identify a real problem or failure not a success in disguise and show how you adapted and grew from addressing the issue. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.

Describe a circumstance, obstacle or conflict in your life, and the skills and resources you used to resolve it. Did it change you? Essay questions about diversity are designed to help admissions committees understand how you interact with people who are different from you. What prompted your thinking? Address your initial feelings, and how those feelings were or were not changed by this experience.

This type of prompt asks about what you want to do in the future: Colleges want to understand what you're interested in and how you plan to work towards your goals.

Some schools also ask for supplementary essays along these lines. Considering your lifetime goals, discuss how your current and future academic and extracurricular activities might help you achieve your goals. Please describe how you have prepared for your intended major, including your readiness to succeed in your upper-division courses once you enroll at the university.

The most common style of supplemental essay is the "Why us? In these essays, you're meant to address the specific reasons you want to go to the school you're applying to.

There are thousands of universities and colleges. Please share with us why you are choosing to apply to Chapman. How did you first learn about Rice University and what motivated you to apply? More selective schools often have supplemental essays with stranger or more unique questions. University of Chicago is notorious for its weird prompts, but it's not the only school that will ask you to think outside the box in addressing its questions.

The word floccinaucinihilipilification is the act or habit of describing or regarding something as unimportant or of having no value. Whether you've built blanket forts or circuit boards, produced community theater or mixed media art installations, tell us: Or what do you hope to?

OK, so you're clear on what a college essay is, but you're still not sure how to write a good one. But what's really important isn't so much what you write about as how you write about it. You need to use your subject to show something deeper about yourself. Look at the prompts above: Whatever topic you pick, you must be able to specifically address how or why it matters to you.

Say a student, Will, was writing about the mall Santa in response to Common App prompt number 2 the one about failure: Will was a terrible mall Santa. He was way too skinny to be convincing and the kids would always step on his feet.

He could easily write very entertaining words describing this experience, but they wouldn't necessarily add up to an effective college essay. To do that, he'll need to talk about his motivations and his feelings: Maybe Will took the job because he needed to make some money to go on a school trip and it was the only one he could find.

Despite his lack of enthusiasm for screaming children, he kept doing it because he knew if he persevered through the whole holiday season he would have enough money for his trip. Would you rather read "I failed at being a mall Santa" or "Failing as a mall Santa taught me how to persevere no matter what"? Ultimately, the best topics are ones that allow you to explain something surprising about yourself. Since the main point of the essay is to give schools a sense of who you are, you have to open up enough to let them see your personality.

Writing a good college essay means being honest about your feelings and experiences even when they aren't entirely positive.

In this context, honesty doesn't mean going on at length about the time you broke into the local pool at night and nearly got arrested, but it does mean acknowledging when something was difficult or upsetting for you. Think about the mall Santa example above. The essay won't work unless the writer genuinely acknowledges that he was a bad Santa and explains why. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service.

We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools , from state colleges to the Ivy League.

We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. Even this little kid is a better Santa than Will was. As I mentioned above, colleges want to know that you are a strong enough writer to survive in college classes.

Can you express your ideas clearly and concisely? These kinds of skills will serve you well in college and in life! Nonetheless, admissions officers recognize that different students have different strengths. Honestly, they aren't expecting a masterwork from anyone , but the basic point stands. Focus on making sure that your thoughts and personality come through, and don't worry about using fancy vocabulary or complex rhetorical devices.

Above all, make sure that you have zero grammar or spelling errors. I made a mistake.. I submitted my application today and after looking back through my pieces of writing, I realized that I accidentally wrote a word twice in my personal statement and forgot a period, and I also failed to include a small word in my topic sentence for my activities essay on the common app.

Apparently, I was far too excited to hit submit. I would hate to have my admission chances suffer because of this. Hi Hannah, thank you for checking in on this. Emailing your admissions counselor is absolutely the right course of action, and I am sure they will handle it from here.

And thanks for your enthusiasm about Vanderbilt! Start to get more and more worried each day, seems like now i know what to do. Be thoughtful, but not fretful. As a senior, most of the accomplishments that will make up the bulk of your application — academic performance, test scores, and extracurricular involvement — are said and done. In a sense, the only part of the application over which you have complete control right now is the essay.

The Common Application presents six different prompts for you to choose from when writing your essay. If you ask a hundred different admissions counselors what their favorite kind of essay is, you will likely get a hundred different answers. Trying to figure out what topic will get us most excited is like trying to guess which outfits the judges of Project Runway are going to like the most — no matter how many times we watch, Heidi always manages to confound.

Instead of trying to game the system, focus on the things that get you excited. If nothing else, I promise that passion will show through. If your creativity is what sets you apart from your peers, let that innovation guide the structure and content of the essay. Figure out what your personal strengths are, and stick with them. We know that there is more to you than just test scores and leadership roles, so tell us more!

Colleges are looking for a sense of maturity and introspection—pinpoint the transformation and demonstrate your personal growth. 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. Make sure you explain how you pursue your interest, as well.

Test Your College Knowledge! You can even write your own question! Whatever topic you land on, the essentials of a standout college essay still stand: Show the admissions committee who you are beyond grades and test scores and 2.

Dig into your topic by asking yourself how and why. Individual schools sometimes require supplemental essays. Here are a few popular application essay topics and some tips for how to approach them:. 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. Choose someone who has actually caused you to change your behavior or your worldview, and write about how this person influenced you.

Be honest and specific when you respond to this question. Use the college's website and literature to do your research about programs, professors, and other opportunities that appeal to you. 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.

Tackling the Common App Essay Prompts

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Write your own awesome personal statement with our COLLEGE APPLICATION ESSAY LAB, which will guide you through the process, providing tips and even more examples along the way. Before you start, check out our own sample essays—or scroll down for the Best of .

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How To: Write Your Personal Essay Posted by Carolyn Pippen on Wednesday, September 11, in Application Process, General Information, The College Essay. While we still have a few more days until the official beginning of fall, around here it feels a lot like the season has already begun.

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When it comes to applying to a college or university, many students fear the personal essay above all. Get college application and admissions tips for your college essay from expert Bari Norman and read a sample of a student's personal essay before and after Norman's edits. Finally, I’ll break down two of these published college essay examples and explain why and how they work. With links to full essays and essay excerpts, this article will be a great resource for learning how to craft your own personal college admissions essay!

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College admissions officers read thousands of college application essays. These tips and strategies can help you make a strong impression. Also be sure to check out these tips for the seven personal essay options on the Common Application. In addition to standardized test scores and transcripts, a personal statement or essay is a required part of many college applications. The personal statement can be one of the most stressful parts of the application process because it's the most open ended.