personal essay prompts 2019
Get one-on-one help from former Ivy League and top tier admission officers. Our College Admission Counselors will help you find, apply, and get accepted to your dream school.
Individual schools sometimes require supplemental essays. Here are a few popular application essay topics and some tips for how to approach them:
Take the time to brainstorm and figure out what you want to show colleges about yourself and what story or interest best exemplifies that quality.
However, personal growth is a gradual process, and you can definitely still approach this topic if you feel you have more maturing to do. (Fun fact: most adults feel they have more maturing to do, too!) Just focus on a specific step in the process of growing up and explain what it meant to you and how you’ve changed.
And a few examples to think about:
- When has your opinion been unpopular?
- Why are you the kind of person who is willing to stand up for what you believe in?
- What is important to you on a fundamental level of morals and values?
- How passionate are you about the things you believe in?
Counselors looking to get a head start with application workshops this year can take advantage of Common App Ready, a suite of on-demand resources, training videos, and infosheets, details everything students, counselors, and families need to know about using the Common App. This resource includes details on application creation, detailed descriptions of each section, and submission requirements. The tool also includes Spanish language resources.
During the 2018-2019 application year, the most popular topic of choice was: “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.” (24.1%). The next most popular topics were: “Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.” (23.7%), followed by “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?” (21.1%).
This well-worn idiom captures the mindset of the decision-makers at the Common Application who announced this January that the essay prompts for the upcoming 2019-20 admissions cycle will be the same as they were in 2018-2019. In the opinion of the College Transitions staff, the choice not to tinker was a wise one. A quick look at the data shows that the prompts, as presently constituted, received rave reviews across the board—more than 90% of admissions officers, guidance counselors, parents, and students rated the selections positively.
In 2018-19, the most frequently selected topic was #7, the “topic of your choice” essay. This prompt was chosen by 24.1% of applicants. Prompt #5, the “discuss an accomplishment” essay was a close second, attracting 23.7% of seniors. The bronze medal went to prompt #2, the “challenge, setback, or failure” themed essay, which netted 21.1% of Common App filers. Overall, the three most popular prompts accounted for 68.9% of applicants.