14 days ago
Admissions Advice

How do i choose an essay prompt that best describes me

How do I choose an essay prompt that best describes me and will help me express myself to admissions officers on the common App?

🎉 First post
Let’s welcome @Boity21 to the community! Remember to be kind, helpful, and supportive in your responses.

Earn karma by helping others:

1 karma for each ⬆️ upvote on your answer, and 20 karma if your answer is marked accepted.

4 answers

Accepted Answer
12 days ago

Hi there @Boity21,

@gracecatan formulated a really great answer to this question, and I completely agree with their approach and points. I would also add that you want to focus more on the content and quality of your essay and that the actual prompt you select (unless it's super specific) does not matter as much.

CommonApp prompts are designed to be able to be answered by pretty much any student, so you should have no trouble writing to one of them. A better strategy if you're stuck on choosing might be to work out the subject of your personal statement (and even potentially write out a rough draft) and then match it to a prompt retroactively.

Hope this helps and best of luck!

13 days ago

First, read through all of the prompts.

If any prompt sticks out to you as something you could use to talk about an interesting, important, or meaningful part of your journey or of who you are, then start with that prompt.

If you feel like you have an interesting, important (important to you, not necessarily life-altering or death-defying if you know what I mean) answer for multiple prompts, then I'd suggest copying all the prompts down into a word document and writing a short elevator pitch (2-4 sentences) or bulleted summary (like a very bare bones outline) of what the essay would be about. Then, you could either pick the one that you think is best or turn all of them into full essays and pick the best one. You could also merge multiple essays after completing them, but try not to think about that while you're writing it and save it for the editing part.

Lastly, if you really aren't sure what answer you would give to most of the prompts or if any of the previous methods didn't work/left you stuck or blank (I know my mind was blank after answering 7 prompts and being able to choose!), then you can actually put away the prompts after reading them. Lots of people do this reverse method, in which you just write your personal essay without trying to answer any particular prompt, then just choose which prompt fits it best afterward.

It also hugely helped me to focus on this central question from the "pre-prompt" (instead of the 7 main prompts, which were a bit overwhelming) in the CommonApp: What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores?

It really tells you about what you should be trying to accomplish with the personal essay, which is to add more of you to your application and "distinguish yourself in your own voice."

CollegeVine also has a lot of helpful blog posts and articles about writing essays, so you can just google "CollegeVine blog essays" and they should all come up. This is a great one to start with, especially if you're applying this year: https://blog.collegevine.com/how-to-write-the-common-application-essays-2021-2022/

Hope this helped!

9 days ago

I think the best way is to think of what you want to tell the colleges. Decide on a story or something you want to write about and then try to match it with the prompts. If it doesn't match with any then you choose the "Share an essay on any topic of your choice." No prompt is preferred over the other so really, you have to decide what you want to tell and don't worry about the prompt.

10 days ago[edited]



Community Guidelines

To keep this community safe and supportive:

  1. Be kind and respectful!
  2. Keep posts relevant to college admissions and high school.
  3. Don’t ask “chance-me” questions. Use CollegeVine’s chancing instead!

How karma works