Ask a senior or recent graduate what the most challenging piece of the college application cycle is.
Number one answer, hands down, is the essay.
The Common App prompts for the class of 2024 were announced allowing for plenty of planning and writing time to craft an excellent essay over the summer. Our recommendation is to not start during the junior year when your focus should instead be on: keeping grades up, prepping and testing on the ACT or SAT, searching for colleges.
This essay will be a different creature from all the 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.
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 900 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. If the essay is required, you will not be able to submit your application without an essay.
Without further ado, these are your prompts!
Notice that lucky number 7 is a topic of the student’s choice.
That might remove pressure for some of you!
Below is the full set of Common App essay prompts for 2023-2024.
- 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?
- Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
- Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
- Describe a topic, idea, 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.
We will also retain the optional COVID-19 question within the Additional Information section.
The Common App has a nice resource to spark your thinking about what you may want to write about. Find the PDF guide here.
Need additional help brainstorming, organizing, crafting, or polishing your essay? LEAP will offer essay and application services starting in June all the way through the senior students' enrollment in college.