The Common Application has announced the essay prompts for the 2017-2018 season. There are prompts that are exactly the same as last year, some changes, some similarities, and a few more options. High school juniors with their sights on college can start thinking about what they want to share with colleges. However, they will not be able to submit their applications until late summer when the 2017-2018 application cycle opens.
Nearly 700 colleges accept the Common Application and more colleges may be introduced as members later this year. Many students will have at least one of the colleges that accept the Common Application on their list. Therefore, get to know these prompts because you probably will be submitting a Common Application in the fall.
Below are the 2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts. After the prompt, I will share how the prompt compares to the 2016-2017 prompts if students were already thinking about their college essays based on the previous year’s questions.
- Some students have a background, 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]
- The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you face a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience? [Some word changes, but essentially the same]
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Question revised, but essentially the same]
- 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]
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised, but similar]
- 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 prompt]
- Share an essay on a 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 compared to 2016-2017 prompts, but it was available to students in previous years]
While high school juniors do not need to start writing their essay yet, it could be a good idea to at least start thinking about what prompt they may want to use. Students should choose the prompt that will allow them to authentically introduce themselves to the admissions committee. Colleges are not looking for academic papers. Instead, admissions officers are looking for personal essays that will help the student stand out from the crowd while showing they are also strong writers. Therefore, students should continue doing well in their classes and occasionally think about the college essays. Think about the prompts now so that when summer comes along, you will know what essay you will want to start crafting to include with your application for the 2017-2018 application cycle.