If you fall into the excited category, consider this a complimentary resource.
We’ll spotlight some of the essay prompts you’re likely to see, and we provide a few examples of essays that have actually earned students passage into the colleges and universities of their choice. Of course, your college application essay is just one part of your admissions package, along with your GPA, your class rank, and your extracurriculars. But those colleges which require an essay are giving you a unique opportunity to set yourself apart from all the other students who also have awesome grades, ran for student body president, and volunteered at a retirement home.
Admissions officers don’t need to hear more about your amazing grades, your standout mock trial performance, or your heroic volunteer work. This is a place to tell your story, but make sure it’s a story that really feels personal and meaningful to you. Avoid crossing the line into TMI.) Lombardi advises "When it comes to the college application essay, the ball is fully in your court. Instead of writing about what you think colleges want you to hear, write about yourself — about what you love, where you come from, what you aspire to, how you spend your time, what bugs you, what inspires you, who is important in your life." Lombardi quotes an admissions officer Ursinus College — a Common Application member school — who observed “To expect students to come to us as fully formed human beings is antithetical to the mission of higher education.
Often, the best writing sections showcase a student’s willingness to be challenged to become a more engaged learner and citizen.” Putting your ideas into the right words may take time. Don’t procrastinate on this part of your application.
The college essay is a required part of the application process for most selective colleges and universities.
College admissions officers — the people who decide whether you’re in or out — must consider thousands of applicants every year.
If you will be using the Common App, you’ll be able to choose, and write about, one of these prompts.
If you don't plan on using the Common App, these prompts can still offer insight into a topic you'll likely be writing on for your school of choice.
The story will, in turn, provide context for your accomplishments.
Be warned that some college essays demand more creativity than others. In some instances, you can actually see this cultural identity reflected in an essay prompt. Some colleges and universities are actually notorious for their unusual — and in some cases, genuinely strange — college application essay prompts.