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.
Of the almost 700 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 prompts for the 2017-18 cycle have a few changes over the last two cycles.
Three of the past prompts have been revised and these revisions are below in italics. There is one all new prompt which is number 6 on our list. We also see a blast from the past; number 7 which is a topic of the students choice returns after a 2 year hiatus.
- 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.
LEAP has options for essay coaching in our in-person group setting (2017 dates coming in March!), individual coaching or virtual regardless of where you live. However, if you are reading this before June 2017, STOP! Don’t start writing yet. Essays are best written in June/July after school is out but before applications go live August 1.