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College of the Atlantic | COA

Bar Harbor, MainePrivate

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College of the Atlantic | COA’s 2023-24 Essay Prompts

Educational Background Short Response


A​t COA, we know that grades on a transcript tell only one part of your story. In one to two paragraphs, please describe one or more aspects of your educational background that may not be evident from your transcript alone. For instance, you might describe a class or educational experience that inspired or influenced you, or difficult circumstances that may have impacted your grades.

Why is COA for you Short Response

2 Paragraphs

College of the Atlantic is, in many ways, not a typical college. COA’s self-designed program, our close-knit community of 350 students from around the world, and our engaged and interdisciplinary curriculum tend to attract students who are looking for a different kind of educational experience. Please describe, in one or two paragraphs, what you’re looking for from your college experience and why you think COA could be a good school for you.

Common App Personal Essay

650 words

The essay demonstrates your ability to write clearly and concisely on a selected topic and helps you distinguish yourself in your own voice. What do you want the readers of your application to know about you apart from courses, grades, and test scores? Choose the option that best helps you answer that question and write an essay of no more than 650 words, using the prompt to inspire and structure your response. Remember: 650 words is your limit, not your goal. Use the full range if you need it, but don‘t feel obligated to do so.

Option 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.

Option 2

The lessons we take from obstacles we encounter can be fundamental to later success. Recount a time when you faced a challenge, setback, or failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?

Option 3

Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?

Option 4

Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?

Option 5

Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.

Option 6

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?

Option 7

Share an essay on any 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.

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