Popular college essay application topics

The Common Application is accepted by 700 colleges, making it simple to apply to multiple schools with a single form.

If you are applying for college admission in 2019, you will have 250–650 words to respond to ONE of the following prompts:

Some students believe that their application would be incomplete if they did not have a meaningful background, identity, interest, or talent. If this describes you, share your experience. The lessons we learn from adversity can be crucial to our future success.

Tell me about a time when you faced a challenge, a setback, or a failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from it? Consider a time when you questioned or opposed a belief or idea. What prompted your thought?

What was the result?

Describe a problem that you’ve solved or one that you want to solve. Regardless of scale, it can be an intellectual challenge, research, an ethical quandary, or anything else of personal importance. Explain how important this is to you and what steps you have taken or could take to find a solution. Discuss a personal achievement, event, or realization that triggered a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. Describe a topic, idea, or concept that you find so engaging that you lose track of time.

What draws you to it?

What or who do you do? 


Prompt #1: Tell us about yourself.

Respond to this prompt by thinking about a hobby, aspect of your personality, or experience that is truly meaningful and unique to you.

Admissions officers want to connect with you, and an honest, personal statement about who you are will pique their interest.

Your obsession with superheroes, baking skills, or family history is all fair game if you can connect it to who you are or what you believe in. Avoid a rehash of your high school résumé accomplishments and instead select something that the admissions committee will not discover while reading the rest of your application. As a result, my perspective shifted. 


Prompt #2: Learn from your mistakes.

You’re trying to present your best self to colleges, so admitting to a time when you struggled may seem counterintuitive.

Overcoming obstacles, on the other hand, demonstrates courage, grit, and perseverance!

That is why the final part of this prompt is so essential.

The obstacle you write about can be small or large, but you must demonstrate to the admissions committee how it changed your perspective as a result. 


Prompt #3: Putting belief to the test.

Your response to this question could center on a time when you stood up to others or challenged your preconceived notions.

Select this prompt if you have a relevant — and specific! — experience to share (and reflect on). A hazy essay on a contentious issue tells the admissions committee nothing about YOU.


Prompt #4: Identifying and solving a problem.

This essay is intended to get to the heart of how you think and what motivates you. Display a situation or quandary and demonstrate steps toward a solution. Admissions officers are interested in your thought process and the issues you face, so explain how you became aware of the difficulty and how you resolved it. 


Prompt #5: What interests you?

This prompt invites you to write about something important to you.

(Avoid the trap of writing about what you think will impress the admissions committee rather than what truly matters to you.)

Colleges are looking for inquisitive students who are concerned about all the things happening around them in the world.

The “what or who do you turn to when you want to learn more” section isn’t an afterthought; it’s an essential part of the prompt.

Make sure you also explain how you pursue your interest. 


Prompt #6: Personal development.

The accomplishment or event you write about, like Prompt #2, can range from a significant milestone to a more minor “aha” moment.

Describe the event or accomplishment that has shaped you, but don’t forget to include what you learned or how you have changed. Colleges are looking for maturity and introspection—showcase your personal growth and identify the transformation. 


Prompt #7: Choose a topic.

This question may be appropriate for you if you have a stellar personal article from your English class you want to share or were inspired by any question on another college’s application. You can even come up with your question!

Whatever topic you choose, the following are the essentials of a great college essay:

1) Demonstrate to the admissions committee who you are beyond your grades and test scores, and 2) delve into your topic by asking yourself how and why.

Because there is no prompt to direct you, you must ask yourself the questions that will get to the heart of the story you want to tell.


Some more essay topics 

Describe someone you admire.

Avoid the temptation to write an ode to a beloved figure such as Gandhi or Abraham Lincoln.

They do not need to persuade the admissions committee that they are influential people.

Concentrate on yourself:

Choose someone who has influenced you to change your behavior or worldview, and write about how they did so.


Why do you want to attend this particular school? 

When answering this question, be truthful and specific.

Avoid broad statements like “to obtain a good liberal arts education” or “to develop career skills,” and instead use specifics that demonstrate your interests:

“I’m a medical student, and your science department has a stellar reputation.”Colleges are more likely to take students who can articulate specific reasons why the school is a good fit for them beyond their reputation or ranking on any list. Do your research on programs, professors, and other opportunities that interest you using the college’s website and literature. 


What is your favorite book?

Your response should not consist of a book report.

Don’t just summarise the plot; explain why you liked the book and what it meant to you.

What does your most favorite book tell you about yourself? How do you identify yourself with it, and how has it come to mean something to you?

Again, be sincere in answering this question—don’t choose a classic from your literature class or a piece of philosophy to appear more intelligent.

Writing articulately and passionately about a book close to your heart is always preferable to writing shakily or broadly about a book that does not inspire you. 


These are some common topics that will be asked in your college applications. Get one on one help with Ivy League counsellors from Miles Smart Tutoring. Our counsellors will help you find, apply and join your dream school.

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