Drumroll for Common Application College Essay Prompts 2016-2017

The Common Application Essay Prompts were revised in 2015 to reflect a universal truth of meaningful conversation: ask a better question, get a better answer.

If you’re ready to start writing, and know you want our guidance, holler over here! We’ll get right back to you with heart, humor, and hard questions–and we really want to know your real answers. Otherwise, read on to get oriented to the requirements of your college personal essay.

By the way: the Common App changes of 2015 reflect feedback they received from their “constituents” who bothered to ask for better essay questions– which means if you have feedback, there’s a willing ear.

  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.
  2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  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.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

My colleagues and I are all over these new Common Application essay prompts– yeah, we’re that delightedly nerdy– because, simply put, they will generate better stories from applicants.  The phrasing will not force applicants to bend their stories to the prompt (which sometimes is awkward and belabored, or just a weak fit). Instead the improvements will allow the students to bend the Common Application essay prompts to fit the personal stories they most want and need to tell.

And this is the whole point, right?  Colleges want to elicit what is most true, most alive, and most relevant to their applicants?

Admissions processes should do whatever is possible to discourage predictable, canned responses, and encourage each individual to articulate him or herself with coherent freedom.  What kind of questions best help admissions officers learn who each applicant REALLY is, at least through the thin veil of writing, so they can guess who this person will be on their campus?

At Essay Intensive, we strive to help you get at the stories from your life that have mattered to you most.  Whether these stories are crises or commonalities, as long as you’re lit up by what you’re talking about, we want to help you say it in the freshest, clearest way possible.  This way, you leave the application process not only with your best shot at getting into your best fit or top-choice school, but also having learned about yourself, nobly, and gained some perspective on your one and only life.

Join us to answer these questions with verve and punch. We work with you one-on-one, in customized groups, and through partnering organizations.  Either way, we stay with you until you nail it. Contact us to get your writing on and your essay done.