Scholar Compass

Common Application College Essay Prompts

Common Application

Common Application

Allison Schottenstein has worked as an editor with Scholar Compass in Cincinnati, Ohio, since 2010. In this position, Allison Schottenstein assists prospective college students as they prepare essays and other materials necessary to gaining acceptance at the nation’s top universities.

Coming up with an effective topic for a college essay can be difficult. Approximately 520 colleges in the United States accept the Common Application, or Common App, which allows students to apply to numerous schools with a single application. Under the Common Application, students must limit their responses to one of five writing prompts to 650 words.

Most Common Application prompts are very broad. The first prompt encourages applicants to simply share their story. This may sound too vague for some students, while others will immediately begin sharing a background event or family history that has influenced their current circumstances. Other prompts that allow students a fair degree of freedom include discussing a moment of failure or a moment in which the individual challenged an established concept or belief.

Some Common Application essays require more introspection than others. For example, the fourth prompt asks writers to describe an environment in which they feel at ease. Finally, students can describe any event or period of change that served as a “coming of age” transition.