common appThe 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.

New in the 2015-16 application cycle was colleges having the option to require an essay or not; previously every Common App contained the personal essay. However, even if a college does not require an essay, you may still submit your essay which is what LEAP recommends you do. If the essay is required, you will not be able to submit your application without an essay. The prompts for the 2016-17 cycle will remain the same from the previous year.

  1. Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their iStock_000013192852Smallapplication would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  2. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Describe a problem you’ve solved or a problem you’d like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma-anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution.
  5. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

LEAP has options for essay coaching in our in-person group setting, individual coaching or virtual regardless of where you live.  However, if you are reading this before June 2016, STOP! Don’t start writing yet. Essays are best written in June/July after school is out but before applications go live August 1.