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They can be as serious as being tormented by bullies, as ingrained as the financial issues that have plagued your family for years, or as seemingly pedestrian as a mistake that costs you a tip while waiting tables.While the possibilities are almost endless, students should be careful not to choose challenges that may seem trite (the inability to achieve an A on an exam and/or secure tickets to that Drake concert) or that illustrate a lapse in good judgment (that time you crashed your car or ate 15 bags of Cheetos in one sitting).Focus on the key words, “background,” “identity,” “interest,” and “talent,” and use them as launch points for your brainstorming.
Students’ personal stories and feats of insight will again be relegated to 650 words, which equates to a little more than a single-spaced page.
We happen to believe this is the perfect amount of space in which to make a quick and powerful impression with admissions (or write a comprehensive fan letter to Beyoncé), so as far as we’re concerned, you’re golden.
This is a process we call the Backwards Brainstorm, and you can learn more about it here.
For now, the main point we want you to take away is this: The prompts don’t really matter. (And that you floss at least every other day—trust us, it will pay off in the long run.) We are as sure as ever that every single one of you has a valuable story (or two or twelve! All it takes is ample time for reflection and a little writerly elbow grease to find it.
So take a peek at what the 2019-20 application has in store for you, absorb what these prompts are really asking, and then forget about them (really! The Common App’s Prompt #1 is the Old Faithful of essay questions.
It’s been around for years and offers all the flexibility an applicant could ask for from a prompt, with just enough direction to get those creative fountains flowing.This question is similar to Prompt #2 in that it is meant to tease out a student’s problem-solving skills and provide a glimpse into an applicant’s frame of mind when dealing with challenges.It also provides a few bonus opportunities for creative expression, leaving both the scale and the time frame for setting up a problem/solution wide open.Applicants should aim to showcase qualities like resilience, determination, and humility.The obstacles you choose to explore can vary widely in nature, especially with the recent additions that allow students to explore challenges and setbacks in addition to failures.We have always believed that essays about overcoming obstacles are most effective when they focus more on solutions than problems.Accordingly, Prompt #2 essays should be predominantly filled with a student’s response, outlook, and demeanor when presented with one of life’s many hurdles, rather than a detailed account of the hurdle itself.For this reason, Prompt #3 can be a great vehicle for showcasing your consideration, persuasive skills, and passions to admissions.We love Prompt #4, which asks students to talk about a problem and how they have solved or are planning to solve it.Hello, students and parents of the future class of 2024! The Common App essay prompts for 2019-20 have been released and—spoiler alert—they’re exactly the same as last year’s!In 2017 the Common App added two new prompts to the pile, one of which was a return to the much-beloved “topic of your choice.” (Cue the confetti!