The New York Times recently announced that the new Common Application has released five new essay prompts and removed "topic of choice" from their roster of prompts for the 2013-2014 application season.
The new questions are simple. This should come as good news to high school juniors beginning their college search. Unfortunately, some students might experience the new very personal prompts as too close for comfort. The old questions were confounding enough, but at least we had made friends with the enemy, and we always had “topic of your choice” to fall back on. Kids, there is no place to hide from these very clear prompts, and they are as follows:
- Some students have a background or story that is so central to their identity that they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
- Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what lessons did you learn?
- Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
- Describe a place or environment where you are perfectly content. What do you do or experience there, and why is it meaningful to you?
- Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.
I, for one, am very excited to work with the new prompts. They hold out hope that applicants may finally believe what college admissions officers have been blogging and asking for all along: Use the essay to tell us something about yourself we don’t already know!
With prompts like these, I think students will have a better chance at finding unique stories that really do have meaning for them and in turn, mean something to their readers. After all, connection is what your readers are after – give it to them.
Motivated high school juniors: Join my creative college essay workshops at The Hudson Valley Writers Center in April or contact me to find out more about upcoming events, small groups and individual coaching. Start Early and Stress Less!