Common Application 2016-2017 Essay Prompts

November 03, 2016

Only just getting around to your college application essays? You may be a little late to the game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t come out on top. If the college you’re applying to uses the Common Application, here are the 5 essay prompts you can choose from: 

In 650 words or less, please respond to one of these prompts:

PROMPT #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.

Everyone has a story to tell. Don’t be afraid to share yours. It may seem to personal or vulnerable at first to put down everything you’ve experienced on paper, but not only could it best translate who you are in person, it can also be a therapeutic writing process. Take this package above for example. We put together a list of student profiles who took a risk in their personal statement essays, and it paid off for all of them! 

 

PROMPT #2:

The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Failures and hardships. Not everyone has been through a tough time, but you have, may be it’s something worth writing about for you college application essay. How did this failure affect the way you behave or see things? Did you try something new? Talking about a failure may seem like you’re highlighting a weakness of yours, but if done right, you can really be demonstrating your strengths, and showing off the bravery to be wrong. See how the profiles we put together in the package above successfully did that.

PROMPT #3: 

Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?

Everyone’s behavior and interests are primarily built on their beliefs, values and principles. What if someone disagreed with you? What if you disagreed with someone else? How you act can say a lot about who you are and your personality. Let that story show the college admission officers what you have to offer. The package, Same Path / Different Shoes, includes a few examples on exactly how to accomplish that. 

 

PROMPT #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

Are you applying for a STEM major? If so, this might be an opportunity to share a story about your passion for problem solving and technology. Have you completed science or research projects that you’re proud of? Share it in your personal statement to reiterate and emphasize your passion for a STEM degree to help your overall application. The Next Elon package will really help inspire you to write your college essay on a project you worked on. 

 

 

PROMPT #5: 

Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

The transition from childhood to adulthood could take a few years. It can also just take one moment in your life. Check out the package, Overcoming a Difficult Past, to see how others have translated this difficult topic in words. 

Applying to college?
View the app files and essays of accepted students.
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Which prompt are you going to choose? Let us know if you’ve already made a choice! If you still need some inspiration, check out AdmitSee’s database of 60,000+ successful college application files

About The Author

AdmitSee Staff
AdmitSee Staff

​We remember our frustration with applying to college and the lack of information surrounding it. So we created AdmitSee to bring much-needed transparency to the application process! Read more about the team here.




Browse Successful Application Files

Lia_Columbia
Columbia ‘19


Accepted to Columbia

I'm a student at Columbia. I love writing, activism, terrible jokes, and binge-watching Netflix. Aspiring English teacher.
lamborghinibea…
USC ‘19


Accepted to UC Davis, UCLA, UCSD, USC, Emory, UMich, UNC, Pepperdine

Although very hardworking, I love to socialize with friends and make time to just relax. Also, I've always been interested in cars and working in the business aspect of the automotive industry.
ashleyzo
USC ‘20


Accepted to USC, Dartmouth, Emory, UMich, Rochester, Lehigh, Miami, Alabama, Ole Miss

Hi! I'm a college freshman who was accepted to some of the best universities in the country (most likely due to my essays). Feel free to ask any questions!
yuzhushi
UMD ‘20


Accepted to UMD, JHU, Duke, Case, Swarthmore, Penn State

I am a recent high school grad about to enter my first year of college at the University of Maryland: College Park with a full Banneker/Key scholarship.

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