The Common Application is accepted by over 750 colleges, making it a ubiquitous part of today’s college application process. With Common App essay prompts remaining unchanged from last year, there is a big opportunity for students to get started early.
At Princeton College Consulting, our students start working on completing their college applications during the second semester of their Junior year. While academic and extracurricular pursuits come first, spreading your application essay writing process over several months will allow you time to do your best work and greatly reduce your Senior year stress!
2019-2020 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.
Notice that while they are quite broad to allow for creative responses, what they all have in common is a desire for you to tell a story, YOUR story! Not the story of your whole life, but one that is representative because it illustrates how you think and the development of your character and values. Whether it is an external or internal challenge, problem, struggle or experience, college admissions officers want to know what you did and learned about yourself. And yes, of course, it is a chance to show off your writing chops!
Ready to get started with your college planning and application process? In addition to helping students with their Common App and supplemental essays, Princeton College Consulting works with students to help them build and finalize a great college list, choose the right courses and extracurricular activities, understand how to get the best letters of recommendation, and so much more to help them put their best foot forward throughout high school and the admission process.
For more information on our college counseling services – no matter where you are in the process – contact us today.