Application Essay

A college application essay is based on a topic provided by the school and is usually required to be between 350-500 words. The essay provides students with an opportunity to add a personal touch to the application. Admission officers do not expect perfection, but rather authenticity.

Tips for writing a successful college application essay (NACAC, Author: Will Dix)

  1. Answer the question asked.
  2. Take the question apart first.
  3. Interpret the term “essay” broadly.
  4. Help the reader “see” what you mean.
  5. Don’t over think.
  6. Be imaginative.
  7. Be original.
  8. If you are bored and unhappy with the essay, your readers will be too.
  9. Use language: check spelling and grammar.

CFNC Guide to Writing a College Admission Essay

2017-2018 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. [No change]

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? [Revised]

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

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. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

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? [New]

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. [New]