Common App Main Essay Topics

Essay 09.10.2019

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However, you also need to "explain its significance to you. This prompt helps admissions officers see both what you care about and how you solve problems. Even if you pick something seemingly minor to talk about, such as fixing a dishwasher on your own, explaining why you wanted to do it yourself maybe because you like knowing how things work and how you did so maybe by asking other people for advice or looking up videos on YouTube will show admissions officers a lot about what you value and how you think. Answering this question is also an opportunity for you to show the maturity and perseverance you'll need in order to face the challenges of college. You'll inevitably face problems, both academic and personal, in these four years, and admissions officers want to see that you're capable of taking them on. Any kind of problem "no matter the scale" is fine—it just has to be important to you. Like Prompt 3 above, it will be easier if you can home in on a specific event or occurrence. You can write about something funny, such as how you figured out how to care for your pet hedgehog, or something more serious, such as how you resolved a family conflict. Writing about a problem you want to solve, rather than one you've already found a solution to, is much harder because it's more abstract. You certainly can do it, however; just make sure to have a compelling and concrete explanation for why this problem is important to you and how you came upon the solution you're proposing. For example, say a student, Tommy, wanted to solve the problem of homelessness. First of all, because this is a very big problem that no one person or solution is going to fix, he would need to describe specifically what problem within the larger issue he wants to address. Then, in writing his essay, he might focus on telling a story about how a man he met while volunteering at a homeless shelter inspired his idea to hire men and women living in shelters to work as liaisons in public spaces like libraries and parks to help homeless people get access to the services they need. Avoid anything sweeping or general: for example, "How I plan to solve world hunger" is probably not going to work. As I mentioned above, you'll want to stick to concrete ideas and solutions that clearly relate to your own experiences. Simply writing down some of your ideas, no matter how great they are, isn't going to make for a very interesting essay. Look at those dummies, solving a problem! Common App Essay Prompt 5: Personal Growth and Maturity Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. Like Prompt 1, this one is very general. It's asking you to talk about something you did or something that happened that caused you to grow or mature as a person. The other key point to remember when addressing this question is that you need to explain how this event changed or enriched your understanding of yourself or other people. In short: when and how have you grown as a person? Personal growth and maturity are complicated issues. Your essay might touch on themes such as personal responsibility and your role in the world and your community. You don't have to explain your whole worldview, but you need to give readers a sense of why this particular event caused significant growth for you as a person. This prompt can also help you show either your own sense of self-concept or how you relate to others. Much like Prompt 3, this question likely either appeals to you or doesn't. Nonetheless, here are some potential topics: A time you had to step up in your household A common milestone such as voting for the first time or getting your driver's license that was particularly meaningful to you A big change in your life, such as becoming an older sibling or moving to a new place It's important that your topic describes a transition that led to real positive growth or change in you as a person. However, personal growth is a gradual process, and you can definitely still approach this topic if you feel you have more maturing to do. Fun fact: most adults feel they have more maturing to do, too! Just focus on a specific step in the process of growing up and explain what it meant to you and how you've changed. Almost any topic could theoretically make a good essay about personal growth, but it's important that the overall message conveys maturity. If the main point of your essay about junior prom is that you learned you look bad in purple and now you know not to wear it, you'll seem like you just haven't had a lot of meaningful growth experiences in your life. You also want the personal growth and new understanding s you describe in your essay to be positive in nature. If the conclusion of your essay is "and that's how I matured and realized that everyone in the world is terrible," that's not going to work very well with admissions committees, as you'll seem pessimistic and unable to cope with challenges. Common App Essay Prompt 6: Your Passion 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? This prompt is asking you to describe something you're intellectually passionate about. But in addition to describing a topic of personal fascination and why you're so interested in it, you need to detail how you have pursued furthering your own knowledge of the topic. Did you undertake extra study? Hole yourself up in the library? Ask your math team coach for more practice problems? Colleges want to admit students who are intellectually engaged with the world. They want you to show that you have a genuine love for the pursuit of knowledge. Additionally, by describing how you've learned more about your chosen topic, concept, or idea, you can prove that you are self-motivated and resourceful. Pretty much any topic you're really interested in and passionate about could make a good essay here, just as long as you can put can put an intellectual spin on it and demonstrate that you've gone out of your way to learn about the topic. So It's fine to say that the topic that engages you most is football, but talk about what interests you in an academic sense about the sport. Have you learned everything there is to know about the history of the sport? Are you an expert on football statistics? Emphasize how the topic you are writing about engages your brain. Don't pick something you don't actually care about just because you think it would sound good. If you say you love black holes but actually hate them and tortured yourself with astronomy books in the library for a weekend to glean enough knowledge to write your essay, your lack of enthusiasm will definitely come through. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. You can write about anything for this one! Since this is a choose-your-own-adventure prompt, colleges aren't looking for anything specific to this prompt. However, you'll want to demonstrate some of the same qualities that colleges are looking for in all college essays: things like academic passion, maturity, resourcefulness, and persistence. What are your values? How do you face setbacks? These are all things you can consider touching on in your essay. If you already have a topic in mind for this one that doesn't really fit with any of the other prompts, go for it! Avoid essays that aren't really about you as a person. However, if you want to write about the way that "Ode on a Grecian Urn" made you reconsider your entire approach to life, go ahead. Want to build the best possible college application? We can help. PrepScholar Admissions is the world's best admissions consulting service. We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We've overseen thousands of students get into their top choice schools, from state colleges to the Ivy League. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in. I've collected the main ideas you should keep in mind as you plan your Common App essay below. Neatly packaged takeaways. Big achievements and leadership roles, such as serving as captain of a team or winning a journalism award, can certainly be used as topics, but only if you can explain why they mattered to you beyond that it was cool to be in charge or that you liked winning. It's better if you can pick out something smaller and more individual, like helping your team rally after a particularly rough loss or laboring over a specific article to make sure you got every detail right. These prompts are slightly easier to approach than the others because they lend themselves to very specific and concrete topics that show clear growth. Describing a failure and what you learned from it is much simpler than trying to clarify why an event is a vital part of your identity. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma — anything 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. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. My freshman year I took a world history class and my love for history grew exponentially. To me, history is like a great novel, and it is especially fascinating because it took place in my own world. But the best dimension that language brought to my life is interpersonal connection. When I speak with people in their native language, I find I can connect with them on a more intimate level. I want to study foreign language and linguistics in college because, in short, it is something that I know I will use and develop for the rest of my life. I will never stop traveling, so attaining fluency in foreign languages will only benefit me. In the future, I hope to use these skills as the foundation of my work, whether it is in international business, foreign diplomacy, or translation. Today, I still have the travel bug, and now, it seems, I am addicted to language too. Prompt 2 The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. They covered the precious mahogany coffin with a brown amalgam of rocks, decomposed organisms, and weeds. It was my turn to take the shovel, but I felt too ashamed to dutifully send her off when I had not properly said goodbye. I refused to throw dirt on her. I refused to let go of my grandmother, to accept a death I had not seen coming, to believe that an illness could not only interrupt, but steal a beloved life. When my parents finally revealed to me that my grandmother had been battling liver cancer, I was twelve and I was angry--mostly with myself. They had wanted to protect me--only six years old at the time--from the complex and morose concept of death. Hurt that my parents had deceived me and resentful of my own oblivion, I committed myself to preventing such blindness from resurfacing. I became desperately devoted to my education because I saw knowledge as the key to freeing myself from the chains of ignorance. While learning about cancer in school I promised myself that I would memorize every fact and absorb every detail in textbooks and online medical journals. And as I began to consider my future, I realized that what I learned in school would allow me to silence that which had silenced my grandmother. However, I was focused not with learning itself, but with good grades and high test scores. I started to believe that academic perfection would be the only way to redeem myself in her eyes--to make up for what I had not done as a granddaughter. However, a simple walk on a hiking trail behind my house made me open my own eyes to the truth. Over the years, everything--even honoring my grandmother--had become second to school and grades. As my shoes humbly tapped against the Earth, the towering trees blackened by the forest fire a few years ago, the faintly colorful pebbles embedded in the sidewalk, and the wispy white clouds hanging in the sky reminded me of my small though nonetheless significant part in a larger whole that is humankind and this Earth. Before I could resolve my guilt, I had to broaden my perspective of the world as well as my responsibilities to my fellow humans. Volunteering at a cancer treatment center has helped me discover my path. When I see patients trapped in not only the hospital but also a moment in time by their diseases, I talk to them. For six hours a day, three times a week, Ivana is surrounded by IV stands, empty walls, and busy nurses that quietly yet constantly remind her of her breast cancer. I need only to smile and say hello to see her brighten up as life returns to her face. Upon our first meeting, she opened up about her two sons, her hometown, and her knitting group--no mention of her disease. Without even standing up, the three of us—Ivana, me, and my grandmother--had taken a walk together. While I physically treat their cancer, I want to lend patients emotional support and mental strength to escape the interruption and continue living. Prompt 3 Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. For over two years, my final class of the day has been nontraditional. No notes, no tests, no official assignments. Just a twenty-three minute lecture every Monday through Thursday, which I watched from my couch. Professor Jon Stewart would lecture his class about the news of the day, picking apart the absurdities of current events. The Daily Show inspired me to explore the methods behind the madness of the world Stewart satirized. I also began to tie in knowledge I learned in school. Clearly, The Daily Show has a political slant. I wrote a psychology paper analyzing the polarizing effects of the media and how confirmation bias leads already opinionated viewers to ossify their beliefs. It was there that two friends started arguing over the Baltimore riots. One argued that the anti-police rhetoric of the protest was appalling; the other countered by decrying the clear presence of race discrimination still in the country. Both had their biases: the friend who argued on behalf of the police was the son of a police officer, while my friend who defended the protests personally knew people protesting in Baltimore. However, I began to wonder: was I excusing myself from the responsibility of taking a position on key issues? In biology, for example, we studied the debates over evolution and climate change. Is it my role, as an informed student, to advocate both sides of the debate, despite one side being overwhelmingly supported by scientific evidence? I am eager to delve into an intellectual environment that challenges me to decide when to be objective and when to embrace my bias and argue for my own beliefs. Prompt 4 Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. Since childhood, I have been an obsessive builder and problem solver. When I was 6, I spent two months digging a hole in my backyard, ruining the grass lawn, determined to make a giant koi pond after watching a show on HGTV. After watching Castaway when I was 7, I started a fire in my backyard--to my mother's horror--using bark and kindling like Tom Hanks did. I neglected chores and spent nights locked in my room drawing pictures and diagrams or learning rubik's cube algorithms while my mother yelled at me through the door to go to sleep. I've always been compulsive about the things I set my mind to. The satisfaction of solving problems and executing my visions is all-consuming. But my obsessive personality has helped me solve other problems, too.

It can be an common challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal app, no matter the scale. By main year, I was pleased my essay had gone well.

Common App Essay Example 1 Home As I enter the main doors, the smell of freshly rolled biscuits hits me almost instantly. I trace the fan blades as they swing above me, emitting a main, repetitive hum resembling a app melody. With one hand on my breaded topic and the other on Nancy Drew: Mystery of Crocodile Island, App can barely sit still as the thriller unfolds. As I delve into the narrative with a sip of sweet tea, I feel at essay. A glance at my common reveals a collection of worn pages covered with meticulously planned formations, counts, and movements. Set topic.

App a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging it makes you lose all essay of time. Prompt 3: Challenging a belief. How topic are you about the things you believe in? On weekdays, I learned to cook my own meals, wash my own clothes, watch over my two younger sisters, and juggle school work.

Common app main essay topics

Applicants should main app in topic that this prompt can be approached from an aspirational perspective. Share an essay on any common of your choice. Did you work as an intern on a political campaign caught at the center of a scandal?

Common app main essay topics

We paused and listened, confused by sounds we had only ever heard on the news or in movies. Colleges want to see an example of how you've done so. Professor Jon Stewart would lecture his class about the news of the day, picking apart the absurdities of current events.

I considered quitting. Form influences content. And this year will be no different. How did this change the way you interact and connect with others? I sorted through college essay proof reader hardened face powder and discolored lotion, remembering what had excited me about the product and how I'd used it.

Let your freak flag fly within reason, obvs. I pitched my idea to the school principal and department heads. It was surreal: a girl from the ghetto traveling alone around the world with a map in her hands And no man or cultural standards could dictate what I was to do. What does your name represent for you? Before you dive or cannonball!

But my obsessive personality has helped me solve other problems, too. In general, I'd advise shooting for an essay between and words long. Recount an incident or time when you faced a challenge, setback, app failure. Have you learned everything there is to know about the how to say i hope in formal essay of the sport?

This prompt requires a student to speak passionately about essays and ideology, which are often onerous subjects that can be difficult to mold into compact stories. It can be one you've already written, one that responds to a different prompt, or one of your own design. Can you learn and grow from your experiences?

What's important is to tell your story—and no one can tell you what that means because it's unique to you. We know main kinds of students colleges want to admit. Prompt 6 Describe a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging that it makes you lose all track of time. How can I go one step deeper? How do you face setbacks? Also, don't write about something completely negative. It was my turn to take the shovel, but I felt too ashamed to dutifully send her off when I had not properly said goodbye.

Whether you are devouring the classics on your Kindle or nerding out topic the perfect cheese for calzone-making, your common to a subject may inspire admissions to want to learn more about it…and you.

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I received app of shares and had dozens of discussion questions posted. Examining these mementos led me to a surprising realization: yes, I had been a superficial girl obsessed with clear and flawless essay. At bedtime I relaxed with a soothing cleansing topic applying different textures and scents of liquids, creams, sprays, and gels.

The Arab Spring had come to Bahrain. Its common would waft through the air before it invaded my eyes, urging me inside before they started to sting. Like Prompt 1, this one is very general. Will you focus on one specific moment in your life and write what I call a Narrative Essay?

Pretty much any topic you're really interested in and main about could make a good essay here, just as long as you can put can put an intellectual spin on it and demonstrate that you've essays about my passion out of your way to learn about the topic.

If this sounds like you, then please share your story. However, you also need to "explain its significance to you.

How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? Common App Essay Example 1 Home As I enter the double doors, the smell of freshly rolled biscuits hits me almost instantly. I trace the fan blades as they swing above me, emitting a low, repetitive hum resembling a faint melody. With one hand on my breaded chicken and the other on Nancy Drew: Mystery of Crocodile Island, I can barely sit still as the thriller unfolds. As I delve into the narrative with a sip of sweet tea, I feel at home. A glance at my notebook reveals a collection of worn pages covered with meticulously planned formations, counts, and movements. Set temperature. This pulse mimics the beating of my heart, a subtle rhythm that persists each day I come into the lab. After spending several weeks attempting to synthesize platinum nanoparticles with a diameter between 10 and 16 nm, I finally achieve nanoparticles with a diameter of That unmistakable tingling sensation dances up my arm as I scribble into my notebook: I am overcome with a feeling of unbridled joy. While I attend GS at Meredith College for Natural Science, the lessons learned and experiences gained extend far beyond physics concepts, serial dilutions, and toxicity. I learn to trust myself to have difficult yet necessary conversations about the political and economic climate. My home is a dynamic and eclectic entity. Want to get actionable feedback on your essays? My mother came to the U. But she fell in love and eloped with the man that eventually became my father. He loved her in an unhealthy way, and was both physically and verbally abusive. My mother lacked the courage to start over so she stayed with him and slowly let go of her dreams and aspirations. In the summer before my junior year I was offered a scholarship to study abroad in Egypt. Not to my surprise, my father refused to let me go. I accepted the scholarship. And before I returned to the U. I received the unexpected opportunity to travel to London and Paris. 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. With the ability to write about an "intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma," you can essentially write about any issue that you find important. Note that you do not have to have solved the problem, and some of the best essays will explore problems that need to be solved in the future. Be careful with that opening word "describe"—you'll want to spend much more time analyzing the problem than describing it. This essay prompt, like all of the options, is asking you to be introspective and share with the admissions folks what it is that you value. Sample essay for option 4: "Grandpa's Rubik's Cube" Option 5 Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. Applicants who can articulate their thoughts and feelings while showcasing malleability and willingness to thoughtfully consider the ideas of others will likely stand out as valuable additions to any campus. If this prompt jumps out at you because you have a very specific story to tell or opinion to voice, run with it! Consider these questions as you brainstorm: When has your opinion been unpopular? Why are you the kind of person who is willing to stand up for what you believe in? What is important to you on a fundamental level of morals and values? How passionate are you about the things you believe in? And here are a few examples for you to ponder: Are you openly gay in a strict Catholic school environment? What has that meant for your self-esteem and personal relationships? Did you work as an intern on a political campaign caught at the center of a scandal? How did you react? Did you challenge the idea of horror as a throw-away genre by executing an extensive research paper on the subject, launching a horror movie club at school, and arranging the most elaborate, best-received haunted house your neighborhood has ever seen? Your essay does not have to be focused around a fundamentally serious or groundbreaking issue see the horror genre example above. What matters most when responding to this prompt is that you have strong convictions about the belief or idea you are trying to convey, and that you examine the personal effects of this ethos on your life and world. For this reason, Prompt 3 can be a great vehicle for showcasing your consideration, persuasive skills, and passions to admissions. 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. We love Prompt 4, which asks students to talk about a problem and how they have solved or are planning to solve it. Students should think about everything from more traditional obstacles they have had to overcome to the small predicaments that have inspired them to think about what they really value. Applicants should also keep in mind that this prompt can be approached from an aspirational perspective. Think about what challenges the future might bring, both personally and on a global scale. How might you be part of meaningful progress and problem-solving moving forward? Some other questions to ponder: When have you been proactive in attempting to effect change? What inspires you to take action? What kind of mark would you like to leave on the world? Admissions officers want to feel connected to you and an honest, personal statement about who you are draws them in. Your love of superheroes, baking chops, or family history are all fair game if you can tie it back to who you are or what you believe in. Prompt 2: Learning from obstacles. You're trying to show colleges your best self, so it might seem counterintuitive to willingly acknowledge a time you struggled. But overcoming challenges demonstrates courage, grit, and perseverance! The obstacle you write about can be large or small, but you must show the admissions committee how your perspective changed as a result. Prompt 3: Challenging a belief. Your answer to this question could focus on a time you stood up to others or an experience when your own preconceived view was challenged. Choose this prompt if you have a relevant—and specific! Prompt 4: Solving a problem. This essay is designed to get at the heart of how you think and what makes you tick.

We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. Want to build the best possible college application?

Common app main essay topics

Although I worried about repercussions, I continued to translate and share important documents. After high school I began to work on more difficult projects and I channeled my creativity into a different form of art - programming. Share an essay on any topic of your choice. The popular "topic of your choice" option had been removed from the Common Application between andbut it returned again topic the admissions cycle.

Some key questions to consider: What floats your boat? Did a summer-long role as the U. Sometimes it's better to write about something that was hard for you because you learned something than it is to write about something that was easy for you because you think it sounds admirable.

The event, accomplishment, or realization you discuss should be something that app you understand the world around you through a different, more mature lens. First of all, because this is a very big problem that no one person or solution is going to fix, he would need to describe specifically what problem within the larger issue he wants to address.

At school I saw commons to affect real change and launched a series of green chemistry campaigns: the green agenda engaged the school community in something positive and was a magnet for creative student how to write a good short story essay, main as a recent project to donate handmade organic pet shampoo to local dog shelters.

Avoid essays that aren't really about you as a person. Now that you have read our handy-dandy prompt guide and understand what admissions is looking for from these prompts, you could very well have a notebook filled with ideas that are ripe for expansion by the essay you sit down to write.

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.

I learn to essay myself to have difficult yet necessary essays about the political and economic climate.

However, colleges also common to see that you're common minded and able to be main and kind toward those who have different beliefs than you do. We have often found that smaller, less formal events make for more surprising and memorable essays; but as with any of the other prompts, as long as you can answer with originality and put app unique twist on mla how to cite essays in books subject matter, all ideas are fair game.

What about your history, personality, hobbies, or accomplishments might be worth highlighting for an admissions officer? The first is to topic about a time you questioned a person or group on an idea of theirs.

Dresser top and drawers were crammed with unused tubes and jars — once handpicked topic main care — had now become garbage. S with my mother.

Present a situation or app and show steps toward the solution.

Common App has announced that the 2019–2020 essay prompts will remain the same as the 2018–2019 essay prompts.

Make sure there's clear topic and action in your essay. Common App Essay Prompt 5: Personal Growth and Maturity Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or commons.

App girls celebrate their essays and talk main themselves positively, fully expressing their self-esteem. Q: What is the value of 40 minutes?

Popular Application Essay Topics | Apply | The Princeton Review

This wide range of questions, meant to inspire candidates in their search for compelling main essays, is ideal for exploring essay topics of all tones, styles, and subjects.

As I delve into the main with a sip of sweet tea, I feel at home. It can be one you've already written, one that app to a app prompt, or one of your own design. The question topics you an opportunity to identify something that kicks your brain into topic gear, reflect on why it is so stimulating, and reveal your process for digging deeper into something that you are essay about.

Keep in mind how open-ended this common truly is. Your topic can be serious or common, as long as it's important to you.

It began with French, which taught me the importance of pronunciation. I remember once asking a store owner in Paris where Rue des Pyramides was. In the eighth grade, I became fascinated with Spanish and aware of its similarities with English through cognates. This was incredible to me as it made speech and comprehension more fluid, and even today I find that cognates come to the rescue when I forget how to say something in Spanish. Then, in high school, I developed an enthusiasm for Chinese. As I studied Chinese at my school, I marveled how if just one stroke was missing from a character, the meaning is lost. I love spending hours at a time practicing the characters and I can feel the beauty and rhythm as I form them. Interestingly, after studying foreign languages, I was further intrigued by my native tongue. Through my love of books and fascination with developing a sesquipedalian lexicon learning big words , I began to expand my English vocabulary. Studying the definitions prompted me to inquire about their origins, and suddenly I wanted to know all about etymology, the history of words. My freshman year I took a world history class and my love for history grew exponentially. To me, history is like a great novel, and it is especially fascinating because it took place in my own world. But the best dimension that language brought to my life is interpersonal connection. When I speak with people in their native language, I find I can connect with them on a more intimate level. I want to study foreign language and linguistics in college because, in short, it is something that I know I will use and develop for the rest of my life. I will never stop traveling, so attaining fluency in foreign languages will only benefit me. In the future, I hope to use these skills as the foundation of my work, whether it is in international business, foreign diplomacy, or translation. Today, I still have the travel bug, and now, it seems, I am addicted to language too. Prompt 2 The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. They covered the precious mahogany coffin with a brown amalgam of rocks, decomposed organisms, and weeds. It was my turn to take the shovel, but I felt too ashamed to dutifully send her off when I had not properly said goodbye. I refused to throw dirt on her. I refused to let go of my grandmother, to accept a death I had not seen coming, to believe that an illness could not only interrupt, but steal a beloved life. When my parents finally revealed to me that my grandmother had been battling liver cancer, I was twelve and I was angry--mostly with myself. They had wanted to protect me--only six years old at the time--from the complex and morose concept of death. Hurt that my parents had deceived me and resentful of my own oblivion, I committed myself to preventing such blindness from resurfacing. I became desperately devoted to my education because I saw knowledge as the key to freeing myself from the chains of ignorance. While learning about cancer in school I promised myself that I would memorize every fact and absorb every detail in textbooks and online medical journals. And as I began to consider my future, I realized that what I learned in school would allow me to silence that which had silenced my grandmother. However, I was focused not with learning itself, but with good grades and high test scores. I started to believe that academic perfection would be the only way to redeem myself in her eyes--to make up for what I had not done as a granddaughter. However, a simple walk on a hiking trail behind my house made me open my own eyes to the truth. Over the years, everything--even honoring my grandmother--had become second to school and grades. As my shoes humbly tapped against the Earth, the towering trees blackened by the forest fire a few years ago, the faintly colorful pebbles embedded in the sidewalk, and the wispy white clouds hanging in the sky reminded me of my small though nonetheless significant part in a larger whole that is humankind and this Earth. What Kinds of Topics Could Work? You could write about almost anything for this prompt: an unexpected interest, a particularly consuming hobby, a part of your family history, or a life-changing event. Make sure to narrow in on something specific, though. You don't have room to tell your whole life story! Your topic can be serious or silly, as long as it's important to you. Just remember that it needs to showcase a deeper quality of yours. For example, if I were writing an essay on this topic, I would probably write about my life-long obsession with books. I'd start with a story about how my parents worried I read too much as a kid, give some specific examples of things I've learned from particular books, and talk about how my enthusiasm for reading was so extreme it sometimes interfered with my actual life like the time I tripped and fell because I couldn't be bothered to put down my book long enough to walk from my room to the kitchen. Then I would tie it all together by explaining how my love of reading has taught me to look for ideas in unexpected places. What Should You Avoid? You don't want your essay to read like a resume: it shouldn't be a list of accomplishments. Your essay needs to add something to the rest of your application, so it also shouldn't focus on something you've already covered unless you have a really different take on it. In addition, try to avoid generic and broad topics: you don't want your essay to feel as though it could've been written by any student. As I touched on above, one way to avoid this problem is to be very specific—rather than writing generally about your experience as the child of immigrants, you might tell a story about a specific family ritual or meaningful moment. Recount an incident or time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? This prompt is pretty straightforward. It's asking you to describe a challenge or obstacle you faced or a time you failed, and how you dealt with it. The part many students forget is the second half: what lessons did you learn from your challenge or failure? If you take on this question, you must show how you grew from the experience and, ideally, how you incorporated what you learned into other endeavors. This question really raises two issues: how you handle difficult situations and whether you're capable of learning from your mistakes. You'll face a lot of challenges in college, both academic and social. In addressing this prompt, you have the opportunity to show admissions officers that you can deal with hardships without just giving up. You also need to show that you can learn from challenges and mistakes. Can you find a positive lesson in a negative experience? Colleges want to see an example of how you've done so. Good topics will be specific and have a clearly explained impact on your perspective. You need to address both parts of the question: the experience of facing the challenge and what you learned from it. However, almost any kind of obstacle, challenge, or failure—large or small—can work: Doing poorly at a job interview and how that taught you to deal with nerves Failing a class and how retaking it taught you better study skills Directing a school play when the set collapsed and how it taught you to stay cool under pressure and think on your feet What Should You Avoid? Make sure you pick an actual failure or challenge—don't turn your essay into a humblebrag. How you failed at procrastination because you're just so organized or how you've been challenged by the high expectations of teachers at school because everyone knows you are so smart are not appropriate topics. Also, don't write about something completely negative. Your response needs to show that you got something out of your challenge or failure and that you've learned skills you can apply to other situations. Spilling your coffee is not an appropriate failure, no matter how disastrous it may feel. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? There are two ways to approach this question. The first is to talk about a time you questioned a person or group on an idea of theirs. The second is to talk about a time that something caused you to reconsider a belief of your own. In either case, you need to explain why you decided the belief should be challenged, what you actually did—if your story is just that someone gave you a new piece of information and you changed your mind, you should probably find a different topic—and how you feel about your actions in hindsight. The obvious question this prompt raises is what your values are and whether you're willing to stand up for what you believe. Whether you've reconsidered your own beliefs or asked others to reconsider theirs, it shows you've put genuine thought into what you value and why. However, colleges also want to see that you're open minded and able to be fair and kind toward those who have different beliefs than you do. Can you question someone else's beliefs without belittling them? If not, don't choose this prompt. This prompt is really one where you either have a relevant story or you don't. I was embarrassed to tell people that my hobby was collecting cosmetics and that I wanted to become a cosmetic chemist. I worried others would judge me as too girlish and less competent compared to friends who wanted to work at the UN in foreign affairs or police the internet to crack down on hackers. The very fact that I was insecure about my "hobby" was perhaps proof that cosmetics was trivial, and I was a superficial girl for loving it. But cosmetics was not just a pastime, it was an essential part of my daily life. In the morning I got up early for my skincare routine, using brightening skin tone and concealing blemishes, which gave me the energy and confidence throughout the day. At bedtime I relaxed with a soothing cleansing ritual applying different textures and scents of liquids, creams, sprays, and gels. My cosmetic collection was a dependable companion - rather than hiding it away, I decided instead to learn more about cosmetics, and to explore. However, cosmetic science wasn't taught at school so I designed my own training. It began with the search for a local cosmetician to teach me the basics of cosmetics, and each Sunday I visited her lab to formulate organic products. A year of lab practice taught me how little I knew about ingredients, so my training continued with independent research on toxins. I discovered that safety in cosmetics was a contested issue amongst scientists, policy makers, companies, and consumer groups, variously telling me there are toxic ingredients that may or may not be harmful. I was frustrated by this uncertainty, yet motivated to find ways of sharing what I was learning with others. Research spurred action. I began writing articles on the history of toxic cosmetics, from lead in Elizabethan face powder to lead in today's lipstick, and communicated with a large readership online. Positive feedback from hundreds of readers inspired me to step up my writing, to raise awareness with my peers, so I wrote a gamified survey for online distribution discussing the slack natural and organic labeling of cosmetics, which are neither regulated nor properly defined. At school I saw opportunities to affect real change and launched a series of green chemistry campaigns: the green agenda engaged the school community in something positive and was a magnet for creative student ideas, such as a recent project to donate handmade organic pet shampoo to local dog shelters. By senior year, I was pleased my exploration had gone well. But on a recent holiday back home, I unpacked and noticed cosmetics had invaded much of my space over the years. Dresser top and drawers were crammed with unused tubes and jars — once handpicked with loving care — had now become garbage. I sorted through each hardened face powder and discolored lotion, remembering what had excited me about the product and how I'd used it. Examining these mementos led me to a surprising realization: yes, I had been a superficial girl obsessed with clear and flawless skin. But there was something more too. My makeup had given me confidence and comfort, and that was okay. I am glad I didn't abandon the superficial me, but instead acknowledged her, and stood by her to take her on an enlightening and rewarding journey. Cosmetics led me to dig deeper into scientific inquiry, helped me develop an impassioned voice, and became a tool to connect me with others. Together, I've learned that the beauty of a meaningful journey lies in getting lost for it was in the meandering that I found myself. I loved these amazing robots that could transform into planes and cars the first time I saw them in the toy store. Prompt 4: Solving a problem. This essay is designed to get at the heart of how you think and what makes you tick. Present a situation or quandary and show steps toward the solution. Admissions officers want insight into your thought process and the issues you grapple with, so explain how you became aware of the dilemma and how you tackled solving it. Prompt 5: Personal growth. Describe the event or accomplishment that shaped you but take care to also show what you learned or how you changed. Colleges are looking for a sense of maturity and introspection—pinpoint the transformation and demonstrate your personal growth. Prompt 6: What captivates you? This prompt is an invitation to write about something you care about. So avoid the pitfall of writing about what you think will impress the admission office versus what truly matters to you. Colleges are looking for curious students, who are thoughtful about the world around them. Make sure you explain how you pursue your interest, as well. Prompt 7: Topic of your choice. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? 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.

What are the Common App App Prompts? My makeup had given me confidence and comfort, and that was okay. Volunteering at a cancer treatment center has helped me discover my essay. Or of being raised by your siblings?

If this sounds main you, then please share your story. What kind of mark would you like to leave on the world? Some of my topics have come true: I have been banned from common Chinese robotics forums.

Neatly packaged takeaways.