Monday, October 21, 2019

College Essay Prompts Complete List, Analysis, and Advice

College Essay Prompts Complete List, Analysis, and Advice SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips When talking about college essays, wetend to focus on the Common Application prompts, and it's true that many students will need to write a Common App essay. However, there are actually quite a few schools, including both public and private universities,that don't use the Common App and instead ask applicants to respond to their own college essay prompts. Luckily, college essay prompts tend to be pretty similar to each other. In this guide, I'll list all the college essay questions for popular schools in the US (and a few abroad) and then break down the patterns to help you brainstorm topics and plan how to approach multiple essays efficiently. After reading this guide, you'll be able to strategize which essays you'll write for which colleges. Feature image: Mayr/Flickr Why Do Colleges Ask For an Essay? The short answer: the essay gives admissions committees a sense of your personality beyond the statistics on the rest of your application.The essay is your chance to show the committee your unique perspectiveand impress them with your maturity and insight. College application essay promptsarewritten with this goal in mind. Admissions officers want to give you the chance to share your interests, aspirations, and views on the world, so most prompts ask about how yourexperiences have shaped you or what you're excited about studying or doing in college. I've collecteda ton of examples below and provided some analysis to help you begin planning and crafting your own essays. Keep in mind that the personal statement alone won’t be enough to get you in- your grades and test scores are still the most important factors in your application. That being said, a stellar essaycan help bring a borderline applicantover the top or give an excellent but not extraordinary student the opportunity tostand out in a competitive applicant pool. As such, the essay tends to matter most for very competitive schools. Non-competitive schools generally don’t ask you to submit an essay. Complete List of College Essay Prompts This list collectsthe 2018 college essay prompts formajor state universities, top-50 schools, and other popular schools. They're divided by region, with all optional essays listed at the end. I left off the Common App supplements, as those often require a substantiallydifferent approach. I also stuck tofour-year schools, meaning Ididn't includespecial two-year programs, such as Deep Springs College or Miami Dade College’s Honors Program (both of which require essays). Finally, note that these prompts are for freshman applicants, so the requirements might be different for transfer students. General Applications There are three general applicationsyou can use to apply to many different schools at once: Common Application Universal College Application Coalition Application Each application has its own personal statement requirement. Some schools will ask for additional supplemental essays. Many more schools accept the Common App than they do the UCAor Coalition Application, though some will accept more than one of theseapplications. Common Application For the Common App essay, you pick one of the prompts and write 250-650 words about it. Here are the prompts for the 2018-19 school year: 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. The lessons we take fromobstacles we encountercan be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced achallenge, setback, or failure.How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Reflect on a time when youquestionedor challenged a belief or idea. What prompted yourthinking? Whatwas the outcome? 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. Discuss an accomplishment, event, orrealizationthatsparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. 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? 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. Universal College Application The UCA essay prompt is completely open ended and has a 650-word limit. Here is the 2018-19 prompt: Please write an essay that demonstrates your ability to develop and communicate your thoughts. Some ideas include: a person you admire; a life-changing experience; or your viewpoint on a particular current event. Coalition Application For the Coalition Application, you'll pick one of five prompts listed below. While there is no hard word limit, the range guidelines are 500-550 words. Here are the prompts for 2017-19: Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution. Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs? What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)? Submit anessayon a topic of your choice. Northeast/Mid-Atlantic The Great Dome at MIT Georgetown University Georgetown asks applicants to writeone short essay (about half a single-spaced page)and two longer essays(approximately one single-spaced page each).Each applicant must respond to the first two prompts and can choose among the other four based on the specific program she's interested in. Short Essay:Briefly (approximately one-half page, single-spaced) discuss the significance to you of the school or summer activity in which youhave been most involved. All Applicants: As Georgetown is a diverse community, the Admissions Committee would like to know more about you in yourown words. Please submit a brief essay, either personal or creative, which you feel best describes you. Applicants to Georgetown College: What does it mean to you to be educated? How might Georgetown College help you achievethis aim? (Applicants to the Sciences and Mathematics or the Faculty of Languages and Linguistics should address their chosencourse of study). Applicants to the School of Nursing Health Studies: Describe the factors that have influenced your interest in studyinghealthcare. Please specifically address your intended major (Global Health, Health Care Management Policy, Human Science,orNursing). Applicants to the Walsh School of Foreign Service: Briefly discuss a current global issue, indicating why you consider itimportant and what you suggest should be done to deal with it. Applicants to the McDonough School of Business: The McDonough School of Business is a national and global leader inproviding graduates with essential ethical, analytical, financial and global perspectives. Please discuss your motivations for studying business at Georgetown. Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT doesn't ask for a single personal statement but rather asks applicants torespond to a series of questions with just aparagraph or two. We know you lead a busy life, full of activities, many of which are required of you. Tell us about something you do simply for the pleasure of it. (100 words or fewer) Although you may not yet know what you want to major in, which department or program at MIT appeals to you and why? (100 words or fewer) At MIT, we bring people together to better the lives of others. MIT students work to improve their communities in different ways, from tackling the world’s biggest challenges to being a good friend. Describe one way in which you have contributed to your community, whether in your family, the classroom, your neighborhood, etc. (200-250 words) Describe the world you come from; for example, your family, clubs, school, community, city, or town. How has that world shaped your dreams and aspirations? (200-250 words) Tell us about the most significant challenge you've faced or something important that didn't go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? (200-250 words) Midwest University of Wisconsin, Madison Indiana University Bloomington IU asks for 200-400 words on your plans and interests. Describe your academic and career plans and any special interest (for example, undergraduate research, academic interests, leadership opportunities, etc.) that you are eager to pursue as an undergraduate at Indiana University. Also, if you encountered any unusual circumstances, challenges, or obstacles in pursuit of your education, share those experiences and how you overcame them. (200-400 words) This essay may be used in scholarship consideration. University of Illinois The University of Illinois asks for two essays only if you have selected a second-choice major other than what's noted on your application. Both responses should be 300-400 words. Explain your interest in the major you selected and describe how you have recently explored or developed this interest inside and/or outside the classroom. You may also explain how this major relates to your future career goals. If you're applying to theDivision of General Studies, explain your academic interests and strengths or your future career goals. You may include any majors or areas of study you're currentlyconsidering. If you select a second-choice major other than the Division of General Studies on your application, write a second essay explaining your interest in this major, too. University of Wisconsin–Madison All applicants must complete two essays for UW–Madison. Theessays should be 300-500 words each (with a max of 650 words) and may be used for scholarship and campus program review.For the first essay, you may also use any of the Common Application prompts if you apply through the Common Application. Tell us about your academic and personal achievements. What have you learned from your success and/or challenges, and how will this influence you as you pursue your college education? Tell us why you would like to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected. If you selected undecided please describe your areas of possible academic interest. Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar. Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges. Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now: South Kyle Field at Texas AM (Ed Schipul/Flickr) ApplyTexas The ApplyTexas application is used by all Texas public universitiesand some private colleges. There are four ApplyTexas essay prompts. Which ones you need to respond to will depend on where you're applying.UT Austin, for example, requires applicants to submit one essay responding to Topic A and another on a topic of their choice. While there's no set word limit, the online application will cut off eachessay at 120 lines (~1000 words). Topic A: What was the environment in which you were raised? Describe your family, home, neighborhood, or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person. Topic B: Most students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. Tell us about yourself. Topic C: You’ve got a ticket in your hand – Where will you go? What will you do? What will happen when you get there? Topic D: Please Note: The essay in this section is specific to certain college majors and is not required by all colleges/universities that accept the Apply Texas Application. If you are not applying for a major in Architecture, Art, Art History, Design, Studio Art, Visual Art Studies/Art Education, you are not required to write this essay. Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics. For your intended area of study (architecture, art history, design, studio art, visual art studies/art education), describe an experience where instruction in that area or your personal interaction with an object, image or space effected this type of change in your thinking. What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area? University of Georgia For UGA, applicants mustwrite two essays of 200-300 words each. One prompt is required. You may choose your other essay from among four options. Required: The college admissions process can create anxiety. In an attempt to make it less stressful, please tell us an interesting or amusing story about yourself from your high school years that you have not already shared in your application. Choose One: UGA’s 2017 Commencement speaker Ernie Johnson (Class of ’79) told a story from his youth about what he refers to as blackberry moments. He has described these asâ€Å"the sweet moments that are right there to be had but we’re just too focused on what we’re doing †¦ and we see things that are right there within our reach and we neglect them.Blackberry moments can be anything that makes somebody else’s day, that makes your day, that are just sweet moments that you always remember.† Tell us about one of your â€Å"blackberry moments† from the past five years. Creativity is found in many forms including artistic avenues, intellectual pursuits, social interactions, innovative solutions, et cetera. Tell us how you express your creativity. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. Describe a problem, possibly related to your area of study, which you would like to solve. Explain its importance to you and what actions you would take to solve this issue. West The Campanile at UC Berkeley University of California Students applying to the UC system must respond to four out of eightshort personal insight questions.The maximum word count for each response is 350 words. Describe an example of your leadership experience in which you have positively influenced others, helped resolve disputes or contributed to group efforts over time. Every person has a creative side, and it can be expressed in many ways: problem solving, original and innovative thinking, and artistically, to name a few. Describe how you express your creative side. What would you say is your greatest talent or skill? How have you developed and demonstrated that talent over time? Describe how you have taken advantage of a significant educational opportunity or worked to overcome an educational barrier you have faced. Describe the most significant challenge you have faced and the steps you have taken to overcome this challenge. How has this challenge affected your academic achievement? Think about an academic subject that inspires you. Describe how you have furthered this interest inside and/or outside of the classroom. What have you done to make your school or your community a better place? Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California? University of Oregon The UO is interested in learning more about you. Write an essay of 650 words or less that shares information that we cannot find elsewhere on your application. Any topic you choose is welcome. Some ideas you might consider include your future ambitions and goals, a special talent, extracurricular activity, or unusual interest that sets you apart from your peers, or a significant experience that influenced your life. If you are applying to the UO's Robert D. Clark Honors College, feel free to resubmit your honors college application essay. University of Washington As part of theCoalition for Access, Affordability, and Success, UW will accept an essay on any of the five Coalition prompts. This essay will ideally be around 300-400 words long.UW also requiresan answer to a short-response question, with a maximum of 300 words: Our families and communities often define us and our individual worlds. Community might refer to your cultural group, extended family, religious group, neighborhood or school, sports team or club, co-workers, etc. Describe the world you come from and how you, as a product of it, might add to the diversity of the University of Washington. International Generally speaking, international schools are less likely to ask for an essay, since admission tends to be heavily focused on grades and test results. However, a few popular international schools do ask for a personal statement as part of their application. Universities and Colleges Admissions Service(UK Schools) UCAS is a general application for UK schools (similar to the Common App in the US). There's no specific prompt for the personal statement- instead, applicants are required to write an essay describing what they want to study, why they want to study it, and what they bring to the table. There is a 4,000-character limit. University of British Columbia UBC asks applicants to fill out a personal profile consisting of five to seven short-answer questions that vary depending on the program you're applying to. Answers should be 50-200 words. While UBC doesn't provide specific questions for your program until you start an application, they do advise that you think about the following questions as you prepare: What are the qualities you think make for a successful university student? How have you demonstrated such qualities in the past? Think about your first-choice UBC degree. What kinds of activities, accomplishments, and insights- learned in or outside of the classroom- do you think would be relevant to this degree? Think about your accomplishments and activities. What have you learned from these experiences? When have you taken on a leadership role? What do you excel in at school or outside of school?What do you enjoy learning in school? Or what do you enjoy doing outside of school that has influenced what you want to learn? Think about the role others have played in your accomplishments and experiences. Think about how your favourite teacher would describe you. Why would your teacher describe you this way? Be specific. Try to incorporate this information into your responses. Think about two or three adjectives that best describe you. For each, provide some evidence of why they describe. Be specific. Try to incorporate this information into your responses. Think about the challenges that you have had to overcome in your life. What have those experiences taught you about yourself and about your community? Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar. Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges. Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now: University of Cambridge Optional Essays Some schools don't require an essay from all applicants but do recommend or require an essay for certain programs. I've listed a selection of those prompts below. Arizona State University Students applying to the Barrett Honors College at ASU must submit two essays of up to 300 words each on the following topics: How will your honors educational experience enrich you, both in relation to your chosen field of study and in relation to your broader education? How will you and your experiences contribute to the Barrett educational and residential community? City University of New York Applicants to MacaulayHonors College mustrespond to one of two "Personal Reflection" prompts and one of two "Social Issues" prompts. The maximum length is 500 words per response. Personal Reflection: Describe an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. Reflecting on your experience and aspirations, discuss how your life will differ from your parents' lives. Provide concrete evidence to illustrate your position. Social Issues: Pick a story of local, national, or international importance from the front page of any newspaper. Identify your source and give the date the article appeared. Then use your sense of humor, sense of outrage, sense of justice- or just plain good sense- to explain why the story engages your attention. If someone gave you a $50 million grant, how would you use it to make New York City a better place? Florida International University Only applicants who don't meet the criteria for automatic admissions and whose applications undergo holistic review will need to submit a 500-word essay: Qualities such as motivation, drive, courage, perseverance, resolve and strength of character play an important role in students' ability to succeed at FIU and in life. Write a 500-word (one-page, single spaced) essay explaining which of these measures makes you a good candidate for admission to FIU and what strategies you will use to ensure your success in and out of the classroom. The Ohio State University Applicants to the University Honors program or the Ohio State Scholars program must respond to the following prompt: To what fictional character do you most relate, and why? You may select a character from animation, art, film, literature, television, theater or any other medium. Ohio University For theOhio University application, students who've been out of a school for more thana year must submit an essay explaining what they've done in their time off from school. If there is a period of three months or longer that you have not been enrolled in a high school, college, or university, please provide a statement documenting your activities for that period. Examples include language study, vacation, work experience, family responsibilities. Additionally, applicants to the journalism schoolare encouraged to write a 250- to 500-word essay "detailing how they want to help shape the future of journalism, advertising, or public relations." For all other applicants, submitting an essay here is optional. Finally, those interested inOhio University's Cutler Scholars Program must answer the following essay prompt (max 250 words): Reflect on a service activity or other efforts you've undertaken to contribute to your community or communities. Your actions might involve individual service, a group project, or substantial activities to support your family, such as employment or caring for a sick relative. What did you learn about yourself and your community? What did you learn about how society functions more generally? Ohio University in the 1970s (Sent From the Past/Flickr) Pennsylvania State University Penn State allows applicants to complete the two following optional essays, each withalimit of 500 words: Please use this space to discuss your activities (other than academic work) during the last several years (for example: school organizations, jobs, athletics, the arts, community service, religious groups, or other individual interests). Please tell us something about yourself, your experiences, or activities that you believe would reflect positively on your ability to succeed at Penn State. This is your opportunity to tell us something about yourself that is not already reflected in your application or academic records. Additionally, applicants to the Schreyer Honors College must answer the following three essay prompts. There are no word count or formatting requirements. There are 27 amendments to the Constitution of the United States. What should be the 28th? Are China and India developing countries? Why or why not? The Seven Wonders of the World is a well-known list highlighting spectacular natural phenomena or human-made structures. Please describe some of the Seven Wonders ofyourworld: They could include people, places, events, or things that have significantly affected who you are. Lastly, if you took any time off before starting college, you'll need to explain what you did during this time and whyin the area of the application titled "Educational Gap Statement." University of Arizona Applicants to UA who do not meet the assured admission criteria will go through the comprehensive review process, which allows for an optional personal statement: The inclusion of anoptionalshort answer, personal narrative or statement to the UA application gives you the opportunity to include unique life experiences and personal achievements in your application University of Central Florida The essays for UCF are optional but recommended. Applicants are asked to pick two of the prompts and compose responses of no more than 500 words (or 7,000 characters) each. If there has been some obstacle or bump in the road in your academic or personal life, please explain the circumstances. How has your family history, culture, or environment influenced who you are? Why did you choose to apply to UCF? What qualities or unique characteristics do you possess that will allow you to contribute to the UCF community? University of Kansas Applicants to KU's honors program must answer one of the following three essay promptsin 500 words or fewer: Give us your top five. Elaborate Consider a time when you strongly held a position, then changed your mind. How did you come to your original stance and how did it change? The University of Kansas cultivates visionaries who contribute to local and global communities. Discuss your passion and why it’s important to you Applicants may also submit an "Extenuating Circumstances Statement." The word limit for this response is 150 words. Is there additional information about yourself, your family, your background, or any adversity (e.g. financial hardship, illness, etc.) you would like us to take into consideration while reviewing your application? University of Nebraska, Lincoln UNL doesn't require applicants to submit an essay, but you will need to write one to be considered for scholarships. There is a 500-word limit. Tell us about the experiences that have shaped you as person- the community circumstances you’ve overcome, your leadership experiences, your career goals, examples of your commitment to help under-served communities and experiences you’ve had with the global community. University of Utah Applicants to the Honors College must complete two essays. The first has a limit of 500 words, and the second has a limit of just 50 words: In 500 words: Keeping in mind that there are many ways to think about â€Å"justice† and a â€Å"just society†, what would YOU personally require of a society in order for YOU to consider it â€Å"just†? It might be helpful to explain what you believe is â€Å"just† or â€Å"justice† but please don’t incorporate a dictionary definition in your essay.Take a little risk, and have fun. In 50 words:... Please give us a hint about what makes you, YOU: a personality quirk, an unexpected interest, an unusual hobby or pursuit, how your earned your nickname, your most embarrassing moment, your wildest dream, the title of your autobiography, why your friends think you’re funny, what you’re doing to get into the Guinness Book of Records, your latest invention? This parrot has questions. Do you have answers? (Matthias Ripp/Flickr) Want to write the perfect college application essay? Get professional help from PrepScholar. Your dedicated PrepScholar Admissions counselor will craft your perfect college essay, from the ground up. We'll learn your background and interests, brainstorm essay topics, and walk you through the essay drafting process, step-by-step. At the end, you'll have a unique essay that you'll proudly submit to your top choice colleges. Don't leave your college application to chance. Find out more about PrepScholar Admissions now: The 3 Main Types of College Essay Questions As you can see above, a few schools ask simply, â€Å"Tell us something about yourself,† but most have a more specific prompt. Still, many questionsare pretty similar to each other and can be grouped intothree general types. In this section, we'll break down each type of college essay question to see why colleges ask about it and how you can respond effectively. Type 1: QuestionsAbout a Meaningful Experience This type of college essay question is the most common. The exact focus of these prompts can vary quite a bit,but they all ask you to reflect on an important experience. Some questions specify atype of experience whereas others don't, simply opting to have applicants write about whatever matters to them. There are three basic sub-types that you'll see when dealing with these prompts. Let's look at an example of each. #1: Overcoming a Challenge These prompts ask about how you dealt with a particular challenge or solved a problem. Below is a typical example of this question type from the MITapplication: Tell us about the most significant challenge you've faced or something important that didn't go according to plan. How did you manage the situation? To address a question like this, you need a topic that has real stakes- that is, something that you genuinely struggled with.Even though it can seem as though you should only discusspositive experiences and feelings in your college essay (you want to impress your readers with how awesome you are!), unwavering positivity actually hurts your essaybecause it makes you seem fake. Instead, be honest: if you're writing about a negative experience, acknowledge that it was unpleasant or hard and explain why.Doing so will just make your overcoming it that much more impressive. #2: Engaging WithDiversity Questions about diversity ask how you interact with those who are different from you. See an example below from the Common Application: Reflect on a time when youquestionedor challenged a belief or idea. What prompted yourthinking? Whatwas the outcome? When approaching this type of question, you need to showthat you're thoughtful about new ideas and perspectives.Colleges are full of students from all kinds of backgrounds, and admissions officers want to know that you'll be accepting of the diversity of other students, even if you don't necessarily agree with them. Also, make sure to pick aspecific instance to focus on. Writing a general essay about how you accept others won't impress admissions officers- you needto show them an example of a time that you did so. #3: Growing Up Finally, this type of prompt asks about a transitional experience or rite of passage that made you feel like an adult. I've reprinted another example from the Common App: Discuss an accomplishment, event, orrealizationthatsparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. For these types of prompts, you want to show personal growth. Explain to the reader not just who you are but also how you've changed. (Really, this is a good idea no matter which prompt you're addressing!) College can be challenging, soadmissions officers want to know that you have the maturity to deal with (likely) living on your own, managing your own life, and planning for your future. Regardless of the exact prompt, the key to this type of college essay is to show what you’ve learned from the experience.Admissions officersdon't care that much about what happened to you- they care about what you think and feel about that event. That's what will give them a sense of who you are and what kind of college student you'll make. How have you changed between graduating from kindergarten and graduating from high school? Type 2: Questions About How You Would Fit Into the Community Examples:UW–Madison, FIU, UCF When admissions committees evaluate applicants, they consider how a student will contributeto the college as a whole. These college essay questions ask you to explain what you would bring to the college’s community and how you'd fit in with its values. Here is an example fromUW–Madison: Tell us why you would like to attend the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition, please include why you are interested in studying the major(s) you have selected. If you selected undecided please describe your areas of possible academic interest. To address this type of prompt, you’ll want to give specific examples of how you embody the traits they’re looking for or what benefits you’d provide to the school’s community. Some prompts will ask youto addressmore specific ideas about the school than others, but it's always a good idea to touch onthe individual school's values or philosophy. Balancing talking about your experiences and traits with describing what excites you about the school can be tricky, but it's vital that you touch on both. If you don't talk about yourself, you're missing your chance to give the admissions committee a sense of who you are and how you would fit in to their community. And if you don't discuss the school itself, you risk coming off as uninterested. So make sure to do both! Type 3: Questions About Your Goals Examples:MIT 2,University of Illinois,ApplyTexas C These college essay questions ask about your professional, personal, or academic goals and how you’ll pursue them.They also often ask you to outline how you’ve worked toward these goals so far. Take a look at an example from the University of Illinois application: Explain your interest in the major you selected and describe how you have recently explored or developed this interest inside and/or outside the classroom. You may also explain how this major relates to your future career goals. If you're applying to theDivision of General Studies, explain your academic interests and strengths or your future career goals. You may include any majors or areas of study you're currentlyconsidering. When addressingthis type of question, you'll want to prove to admissions officers that you’re thoughtful about your future and excited about the opportunities college provides.Colleges want to admit students who will be successful, and a big part of finding success is having the drive to work toward it. As always, remember to use specific examples to illustrate your point.What relevant experiences have you had or interests have you pursued? What made you think this subject or career would be a good fit for you? Are there related classes or activities you're excited to participate in at the school? The more specific you can be in addressingthese questions, the stronger your essay will be. Of course, these three types of questions don't cover every essay prompt, and some questions will be more unusual (especially those for supplemental essays). Nonetheless, you should analyze any prompts you encounter in the same way. Ask yourself why the college is asking that question and what admissions officers are hoping to see- not in terms of specific topics but in terms of general trends and traits. Understanding what admissions officers are hoping to get out of your essay will help you pick a great topic that'll help you exhibit your unique personality and perspective in the most effective way possible. How to Plan Your College Essay Writing Now that you’ve seen the range of questions you might be asked to answer for your college apps, let’s discuss how you can plan your college essay writing process most efficiently. Make a Chart of All the Essays You Need to Write Depending on how many schoolsyou're applying to and what their requirements are, you might have to respond to10 or more college essay prompts. Therefore,you'll want to make sure that you're organized about what needs to get done. I recommend creating a chart with the school, its deadline, and its essay's word count in one column, and theprompt(s) in the other. Then, prioritize your essays by deadline and preference. In other words, focus first on essays for the schools with the earliest deadlines and the ones you’re mostexcited about. You’ll also want to consider whether you truly need to write a different essay for each school. If the prompts are similar enough, you might be able to reuse essays for more than one college. I'll go over how to make these calls in more depth below. When Writing Multiple Essays for OneSchool, Use DifferentTopics You probably noticed that many of the schools listed above ask for more than one essay. When completing one of these applications, make sure your essays aren’t repetitive.You want to take the opportunity to give admissions officers as fleshed out a sense of who you are as you can,so pick topics that show different sides of your personality. For example, let’s consider a student who’s hoping to become an engineer. If she writes her first essay about competing in a science fair, she’ll want to focus on something slightly different for her second essay- perhaps an unexpected interest, such as figure skating, or a time that she used her scientific skills to solve an unscientific problem. Be Careful About Reusing Essays A common question students have is whetheryou can just write one essay and submit it to every school. The answer is, unfortunately, no. As you can see,college essay questionsdiffer enough that there's no way you could use the same essay for every single one (not to mention the fact that many schools require two or more essays anyway!). However, it doessometimeswork to reusean essay for more than one school. The key is that the prompts have to be asking about basically the same type of thing. For example, you could use the same essay for two prompts that both ask about a time you solved a problem, but you probably wouldn't want to use the same essay for one prompt that asks about a problem you solved and one that asks about a time you interacted with someone different from yourself. You can also reuse an essay bysubmitting an essay originally written for a specific prompt for a more general prompt as well.For example, you couldsubmit your ApplyTexas topic B app (the one that's about overcoming a specific obstacle) for the Coalition essay prompt 1 (the one about a meaningful story from your life and what you learned). In that case, you might want to tweak the essay slightly to address the question of what you learned more explicitly, but you could likely use the same personal statement with minimal changes. The other reason thisinstance of essay recycling works is because the ApplyTexasand Coalition applications have compatibleword limits.In general, you can't reuse a 600-word essay for a prompt with a 250-word limit. Why? Because by the time you've cut out that many words, you'll usually be left with something that either doesn't make much sense or that doesn't show much about you (since you've only left enoughof the story to explainwhat happened). Although, technically, you could use a short essay (200-300 words) for an application with a higher word limit (say, 500-650 words), I strongly advise against doing this. If you have the space to tell a more in-depth story and explain your perspective and feelings in more detail, you should take it. Reusing a much shorter essay out of laziness is a waste of an important opportunity to impress the admissions committee.(You can, however, write a longer essay on the same topic.) Ultimately, whether you can use a recycled essay for a given prompt willdepend on the specific prompts involved and your chosen topic. However, I've outlined some general guidelines below. Essays About Experiences Arethe Most Easily TransferredBetween Schools There’s a reason the Common App promptsare all type 1: Because they ask about important experiences, these prompts are much more about you than they are about the school. As such, it’s much easier to use them for more than one school. That being said, as I described above, if the prompts are different sub-types or are otherwise clearly distinct from each other, you’ll still need to write unique essays. Essays About a Specific School Generally Can’t Be Recycled If a prompt asks about why you’re interested in a specific school or how you'd fit in, don't try to use it for more than one school. Admissions officers want to see that you're excited about their school and will bring something interesting or special to their community. It's impossible to show them this if you can't be bothered to write a unique essay for their application. Take the time to think about what appeals to you about the specific school or how you relate to its core values. Essays About Your Goals or Interests Might Need to Be Customized to Each School For questions that ask about your future, you might be able to keep the same basic structure- assuming you’re interested in studying the same subject- and simply tweak the section about your plans for the future to reflect eachschool's specific programs or activities. However, don’t lie to avoid having to write a new essay. If one school’s music program interests you while another school’s architecture program does, write a unique essay for each. How to Write a College Essay That Works: 3 Key Tips There's one key takeaway from looking at the many prompts above: colleges are looking for your essay to tell them something about you.This idea should be your guiding principle as you write and edit your essay. I've summarized our top three college essay writingtipsbelow, but for a more in-depth take on the writing process, check out our step-by-step guide to writing a great college essay. #1: Pick a Topic You're Excited About A great essay requires a great topic, and a great topic is one that you really want to write about.Remember that admissions officers want to get to know you: you'll have to be honest about your interests and your perspectives if you want to impress them. For more guidance on picking a great topic, check out our guides to brainstorming college essay ideasand finding the besttopic for you. #2: Focus On Specific Details No matter how great your topic, your essay won't be compelling without detailed descriptions that put the reader in your shoes and let them see the world from your perspective. Details are what make an essay stand out because they're unique to you. For example, alot of people might have volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, but only one could have stood outside in a pink hat listening to her high school history teacher drone on about the different types of screws for 25 minutes.In short, don't settle for telling readers what you did- show them with specific details. You also need to explain howthe experience affected you and/or whyyour topic is important to you. Students often get so wrapped up in telling astory that they forget to show why it matters, but your feelings arethe most important part of your essay. This aspectof the essay should also include plenty ofdetails. Otherwise, it's easy to fall into clichà ©s that bog down your storytelling. #3: Edit Carefully As you embark upon the college essay writing process, keep in mind thefamous Ernest Hemingway quote: "The only kind of writing is rewriting." It might be extremely tempting to just write a draft and call it a day, but revising is a vital step in crafting an engaging essay. Once you write a first draft, put it in a drawer for a week. Taking some time away from it will allow you to come back to it with fresh eyes. Then, try to read your essay from the perspective of someone who knows nothing about you.Would they be able to understand the story? Do you explain clearly what you learned? Does yourintro grab the reader's attention? It can also be helpful to ask someone you trust, such as a parent, teacher, or peer, to read your essay and give you feedback. Really listen to what they say and think about how you can improve your writing. Finally, try reading your essay aloud. This will help you catch any weird or awkward phrasings. What's Next? If you're struggling with how to approach your personal statement, consider looking at some college essay examples. The essay is just one part of the college application process. Check out our guide to applying to college for a step-by-step breakdown of what you'll need to do. Finally, if you're planning to take the SAT or ACT, consider taking a look at our expert test-prep guides for some helpful advice on whatever you might be struggling with. Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

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