For And Against Essay Prompts Common

The Common App Prompts for 2018-19 Will Remain the Same as Last Year

The Common Application has announced the personal essay prompts for the 2018-19 admissions season, leaving the prompts from 2017-18 unchanged.

This is significant, as it allows current juniors to get started even earlier on their college applications, especially with the availability of account rollover.

At IvyWise, we advise students to get started on their college applications the summer before their senior year.

While current juniors can certainly start to think about what they may want to write about in their college application essays, the Common App essay should not overshadow juniors’ current college prep, including extracurriculars, test prep, studying for AP or other important exams, and other important college prep tasks like building their balanced college list and visiting schools.

Here are the 2018- 19 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.
  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?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  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, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  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? 
  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.

What do you think of the 2018-19 Common App essay prompts? Which do you think you will respond to on your application in the fall? Tell us in the comments below!

Are you ready to get on track with your college prep? In addition to helping students with their Common App essays and supplements their senior year, IvyWise works with students to help them craft a balanced college list, choose the right courses for the next school year, select the best teachers for letters of recommendation, and more to help them put together the best college application possible. For more information on IvyWise’s college counseling services – no matter where you are in the process – contact us today.

With the 2017-2018 application cycle soon to be underway, the essay team here at CollegeVine has decided to share some of our best tips and strategies on how to write the all-important Common App essays. This year, The Common Application has announced various revisions and additions to its essay prompts. In total, three of the original five prompts have been revised, and two entirely new prompts have been added.

 

In this blog post, we’ll provide advice on how to break down these prompts, organize your thoughts, and craft a strong, meaningful response that will make admissions committees take notice.

 

Overview of the Common App

The Common App essay is the best way for admissions committees to get to you know you. While SAT scores, your past course load, and your grades provide a quantitative picture of you as a student, the Common App essay offers adcoms a refreshing glimpse into your identity and personality. For this reason, try to treat the essay as an opportunity to tell colleges why you are unique and/or what matters to you.

 

Since your Common App essay will be seen by numerous colleges, you will want to paint a portrait of yourself that is accessible to a breadth of institutions and admissions officers (for example, if you are only applying to engineering programs at some schools, don’t focus your Common App on STEM at the expense of your other applications — save that for your supplemental essays).

 

In short, be open and willing to write about a topic you love, whether it is sports, music, politics, food, or watching movies. The Common App essay is more of a conversation than a job interview.

Strategy for Writing the Common App 2017-2018 Essays

Because the Common App essay is 650 words long and includes minimal formal directions, organizing a response can seem daunting. Fortunately, at CollegeVine, we have developed a simple approach to formulating strong, unique responses.

 

This section outlines how to: 1) Brainstorm, 2) Organize, and 3) Write a Common App essay.

 

Brainstorm

Before reading the Common App prompts, brainstorming is a critical exercise to develop high-level ideas. One way to construct a high-level idea would be to delve into a passion and focus on how you interact with the concept or activity. For example, using “creative writing” as a high-level idea, one could stress their love of world-building, conveying complex emotions, and depicting character interactions, emphasizing how writing stems from real-life experiences.

 

A different idea that doesn’t involve an extracurricular activity would be to discuss how your personality has developed in relation to your family; maybe one sibling is hot-headed, the other quiet, and you’re in the middle as the voice of reason (or maybe you’re the hot-head). These are simply two examples of infinitely many ideas you may come up with.

 

To begin developing your own high-level ideas, you should address these Core Four questions that all good Common App essays should answer:

 

  1. “Who Am I?”
  2. “Why Am I Here?”
  3. “What is Unique About Me?”
  4. “What Matters to Me?”

 

The first question focuses on your personality traits — who you are. The second question targets your progression throughout high school (an arc or journey). The third question is more difficult to grasp, but it involves showing why your personality traits, methods of thinking, areas of interest, and tangible skills form a unique combination. The fourth question is a concluding point that can be answered simply, normally in the conclusion paragraph, i.e., “Writing matters to me” or “Family matters to me.”

 

Overall, there is no single “correct” topic. You will be great as long as you are comfortable and passionate about your idea and it answers the Core Four questions.

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