Ask a senior or recent college graduate what the most challenging piece of the application cycle is. Number one answer, hands down, is the essay. By starting in advance of applications opening, this does not have to cripple your application progress as it has for some many others.
Fortunately, the prompts for the class of 2019 were announced early allowing for plenty of planning and writing time to craft an excellent essay.
This essay will be a different creature from all essays you’ve written before. You’ll demonstrate your ability to write clearly and concisely and 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 on the Common App. 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.
If completing the Coalition App which 140 schools use (some use both Common App and Coalition), college requirements vary, but it’s suggested students aim for 500 – 550 words.
LEAP’s college counseling and essay team visits and interacts with dozens of colleges each year. We delve into what the colleges are searching for in your words. We know the colleges who will look at the essay more closely than others. We are experts at guiding you to tapping into the voice that needs to be heard.
Of the more than 800 colleges using the Common App most require students to have a personal statement on the Common App. 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 Common App prompts for the 2018-19 cycle have no changes over last year. Notice that lucky number 7 is a topic of the student’s choice. That might remove pressure for some of you!
- 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.
- 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?
- Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
- 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.
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, ideas, 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?
- 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.
The Coalition App also recycled their prompts for the 2018-19 cycle. The option for a topic of your choice is also available here!
- Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
- Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
- Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
- What is the hardest part of being a teenager now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
- Submit an essay on a topic of your choice.
LEAP has options for essay coaching in our in-person group setting (registration now open!), individual coaching or virtual regardless of where you live. Essays are best written in June/July after school is out but before applications go live August 1.