The Common Application is a website that allows over 2 million students to apply to over 900 colleges each year, using one platform. It requires one general Common App essay that is then sent to any colleges using the app. Students chose from seven different prompts to write this one essay.
Common Application Instructions and Prompt
Update January 2022: The Common App essay prompts will remain the same for 2022-2023.
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. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
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.
Timeline for writing your essay
Students will generally need to write one college essay for the Common Application, two to three for the Apply Texas Application, and sometimes one or two more for a private college or supplement. That’s why it is extremely important to begin writing these college essays during the summer before senior year.
My professional recommendation is to create a college list during junior year. Using that list, you can research which essays are required. Students should write these college essays over the summer, and always, always, get someone to proofread them. Here’s my To-Do List for Juniors.
This will result in students being ready to submit the applications at the beginning of the senior year. Senior year is already a busy time, with classes starting, football season, yearbook pictures, and more! Students have can get ahead of the college admissions game by preparing early and usually much more relaxed and confident.
Brand College Consulting helps students with college essays through packages or hourly. Please use the Contact Form to inquire about more information.
Which prompts are most popular?
In most recent cycle reported by the Common App, the most frequently selected topic was #7, the “topic of your choice” essay. This prompt was chosen by 24% of applicants. Prompt #5, the “discuss an accomplishment” essay was a close second, attracting 23% of seniors. The bronze medal went to prompt #2, the “challenge, setback, or failure” themed essay, which netted 21% of Common App filers. Overall, the three most popular prompts accounted for 68% of applicants.