The Newest Common App Prompt #7 is all joy!
I have to say, as a fan of freedom, I love number the new Common App prompt #7. And I quote:
“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.”
If none of the other Common App prompts are really pulling forth what you want to say, here’s where you, well, go crazy!
Be sure the essay you pick and the topic you choose STILL fulfill the purpose of the personal essay. It should show something important and revelatory about you that the rest of the application does not, in story form.
News Flash: What we write about sometimes picks us
Some applicants love a highly structured prompt. But others need more space and choice.
The new addition of prompt #7 is an example of the Common App being really generous. They understand sometimes our best and most exemplary writing just happens to us unbidden. It picks us! This may not happen in response to a prompt. We may be pining for a chance to share that other thing that they didn’t exactly ask for in any of the other six prompts.
It’s a fact (albeit muffled in certain education environments, boo hiss) that creative choice of topic and form drives your engagement. This can generate a passionate, powerful and, um, personal written product. Why? You had the license to receive and value whatever came to you.
All the admissions committee wants in response to Common App prompt #7 (or any other) is for you to show your best writing and unique self. This gives them a perfect window into you.
So, no excuses, friends.
Prompts are meant to get your best for the admissions committee!
Also– it’s worth re-tooting here that the admissions team is not working against you. The Common App revises their prompts year after year to try to offer applicants the best opportunities to produce meaningful, insightful, and representative writing. They want the good stuff, however they can get it out of you. A Common App prompt is just an excuse for you to produce a personal essay that matters to you, about which you feel something.
Your readers are practically begging: make us see and feel! Give us your most vital, true material!
In fact, admissions readers are so done with the mediocre stuff that they are stopping themselves from watching Youtube Drunk Squirrel videos with each applicant folder they open. So, if nothing else, think about how great you’re going to make their next five minutes when you offer writing that is incredible, much much more engaging than even the drunkest squirrel trying to remember where it left its nut.
Shed your self-imposed limits with Common App Prompt #7!
Open topics and creative invitations can be as scary as they are exhilarating. What do I pick? Where do I start?
For many of us, our mind has grown really really good at being self-protective. Especially when it comes to being both creative and personal. Both are, ironically, natural habits of your mind that you merely need to externalize!
That means sometimes it feels easier for your mind to insist it has nothing to say, or that it can’t possibly say (well) what it wants to, than to let whatever that might be find its way out. (At first, this process may be uncontrolled, messy, and almost too honest).
And remember, there is always something happening in your mind. Something like 95 percent of it is unconscious, but not unreachable.
Let your unconscious mind offer up what it will. Be a receiver. Free-write to discover those treasures.
Another approach is to objectively review essays you’ve written in the past year– about anything. Ask yourself what each essay reveals about you. Do any of these essays feel like the one? Or like you could tinkered with them and revise them to be The One?
How good would it feel to let your mind open enough to look back at something you’ve already written and think, “That’s IT! That is hot and alive! It just need a little touching up!”
Ask for feedback
We love supporting students to make bold, authentic choices about what material they will use and how they will use it. If you want some feedback on your Common App prompt choice, or further help talking out a topic or revising existing material, we agree to stop watching drunken squirrel videos and help you out. Contact us for more information and creative direction.
Just kidding about the squirrels
I only saw one such video once, and I thought it was traumatizing. Where did the squirrel get the alcohol? How could its poor body metabolize that?
But then I remembered the evil squirrels at my grad school who ate all my groceries through the nylon bag they were packed into in my bicycle. This, while I was in Shakespeare Seminar on a cold winter evening. I wanted the worst for those squirrels– they ate nylon!