4 years ago
Admissions Advice

Are the essay prompts the same each year?

So I was planning on writing a few college essays earlier on (11th grade) but I’m not sure if the college essays are the same or if they will change each year. Also, when do people usually write college essays? Thanks.


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Accepted Answer
4 years ago

Not particularly, No. However, the criteria seems to always remain the same: express the best YOU that you can through a personal statement. The goal of these prompts is to derive your personality through your writing so that the admissions offices understand “who” they are getting.

While the criteria remains very much the same, the prompts are different from time to time. Though, this year the prompts DID remain the same from last admissions cycle (so I’d suspect that they may change next year). But that doesn’t necessarily mean that these current prompts have any less value in terms of preparation, instead it means you will have to find a new “story” as the vessel to describe yourself personally under a brand of light.

For the common app in general, I suggest getting used to prompt #5, which is the KEY prompt in which your response to any college personal statement should follow: “ Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.” This is a very universal prompt that attempts to derive a sense of GROWTH and PERSONALITY from the writer. As long as these two elements are etched within your “story”, then your personal essay writing should be fine—if you intend to practice.

For college supplement essays—the writing that is directed to individual colleges—while they may also change from time to time, their central goal is also very much the same. Whether it be a “why this college?” or a “community” or a “additional information” -type essay, the criteria seems to be the same from college to college and year to year. I strongly advise that you get to know the college fully when writing the “why this college?” essay. Some helpful sources are (https://www.collegeessayguy.com/), (https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/how-to-write-a-college-essay) and this very site.

Finally, you had asked: “when do people usually write college essays?” The answer: whenever they feel it’s the right time to get it done “on time.” The deadline for college applications will largely mandate this decision and your writing process. Keep in mind that most EA and ED deadlines happen to be about Nov. 1 and most RD deadlines happen occur in January (1-15 most likely). But when earliest do the most dedicated students begin? Many competitive applicants can practice writing throughout their entire Junior year and will practice responding to their prompts in early spring and throughout the summer. The common app and your desired college will post their admissions prompts sometime during the year of applications (this will vary from time to time and college to college). Be sure to search the web for your college’s post on this, it’ll help you stay ahead of the game.

Hope this helped!! Good luck!

4 years ago

The prompts can change or not change. No one really knows. For me, I started all the way back in March of my 11th grade but I never really finished until this December in 12th grade because I made so many drafts that never worked and my creative writing was horrible. Start your writing early. I really regret procrastinating my supplements because now I am under pressure lol

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