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Trending College Application Essay Prompts and Topics

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Published on: Feb 26, 2019

Last updated on: Nov 22, 2023

College Application Essay Prompts

Picture this: Nearly 700 colleges worldwide, all accepting your application with just one form. A golden ticket to your future, right? But here's the twist - you've got a mere 250-650 words to paint a masterpiece that'll set you apart.

Well, hold on because in this blog, we're diving into the world of college application essays

We'll explore the college application essay prompts for 2023-2024. These prompts are your ticket to telling your unique life story in your own voice. They not only make the process smoother but also add a touch of consistency for students, counselors, parents, and admission members. 

Ready to uncover unique topics? Let’s get started!

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What are the 2023-24 Common App Essay Prompts?

Here is a list of the 2023-24 Common App Essay Prompts:
1. Your Unique Identity:
Describe a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful for you that your application would feel incomplete without it. Share your story.
2. Overcoming Life's Challenges:
Narrate an instance when you confronted a significant obstacle, setback, or failure. How did it impact you, and what valuable lessons did you gain from the experience?
3. Challenging Beliefs:
Reflect on a time when you questioned or contested a belief or idea. What sparked this introspection, and what were the outcomes of your newfound perspective?
4. Unexpected Gratitude:
Recall a situation where someone's actions unexpectedly filled you with happiness and gratitude. Explore how this expression of gratitude influenced or motivated you.
5. Personal Growth Catalyst:
Share an accomplishment, event, or moment of realization that ignited a period of personal growth and offered you fresh insights into yourself or others.
6. Passionate Pursuits:
Describe a subject, idea, or concept that captivates you to the extent that time seems to slip away when you engage with it. Explain why it holds your fascination and who or what inspires your quest for knowledge.
7. Your Choice of Topic:
Craft an essay on a topic of your choosing. It can be a piece you've previously written, a response to a different prompt, or entirely your own creation.

Tips & Insights to Pick the Right College Essay Topic

The figure below illustrates tips for choosing the right college application essay for your admission:

How to choose the right college application essay prompt -MyPerfectWords.com


Now, let's explore the essay prompts for college applications at prestigious institutions in the United States.

BYU College Application Essay Prompts

  • Describe a time when your beliefs or values were challenged. How did you respond, and what did you learn from the experience?
  • Share a personal story that illustrates your commitment to community service or volunteer work.
  • Brigham Young University is known for its strong sense of community. Explain how you plan to contribute to this community during your time at the university.
  • Discuss a book, movie, or artistic work that has had a profound impact on your life and how it influenced your perspective.
  • In a rapidly changing world, what skills and qualities do you believe are most important for future leaders to possess?
  • Describe an achievement or accomplishment that you're most proud of and why it's meaningful to you.
  • BYU values academic excellence. Share an experience that demonstrates your dedication to your studies and your desire for intellectual growth.
  • How do you plan to integrate your faith and your education at BYU to enrich both your spiritual and academic journey?
  • Discuss a time when you had to work with people from diverse backgrounds to achieve a common goal. What did you learn from this experience?
  • BYU places a strong emphasis on family values. Share a personal story that highlights the importance of family in your life.

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UW College Application Essay Prompts 

  • Describe an experience that shaped your perspective on environmental sustainability and how it has influenced your academic and personal interests.
  • Share a significant challenge you've faced and the strategies you used to overcome it. What did you learn from this experience?
  • UW is known for its commitment to diversity and inclusion. How have your experiences or background contributed to this mission, and how do you plan to continue supporting it at UW?
  • Discuss a book, research, or academic project that inspired your intellectual curiosity and why.
  • Explain how your future academic and career goals align with the resources and opportunities available at UW.
  • Describe a time when you had to lead a team through a difficult situation. What leadership qualities did you exhibit, and what was the outcome?
  • Reflect on a time when you were introduced to a new culture or community. How did this experience broaden your horizons?
  • Discuss a current global issue that concerns you and how you envision addressing it through your education at UW.
  • Describe a passion or hobby that is not related to your academic pursuits and how it has enriched your life.
  • Share an example of a time when you collaborated with others to innovate and solve a complex problem. What did you learn from this experience?

UC Berkley College Application Essay Prompts

  • UC Berkeley is known for its commitment to social justice. Describe a specific initiative or project you've been involved in that aligns with this mission.
  • Discuss an event or experience that challenged your understanding of a particular culture or community. How did it change your perspective?
  • Share an academic or extracurricular achievement that you're particularly proud of and explain why it matters to you.
  • Describe how your background, identity, or experiences have shaped your academic and personal aspirations.
  • Explain your interest in a particular field of study at UC Berkeley and how you plan to contribute to the intellectual community.
  • UC Berkeley values leadership and initiative. Share an example of a time when you took the lead in a project, organization, or community and the impact it had.
  • Discuss a pressing global issue and how your education at UC Berkeley will help you address or contribute to solutions for that issue.
  • Share a personal story that illustrates your passion for sustainability and environmental stewardship.
  • Describe an instance when you collaborated with people from diverse backgrounds to achieve a common goal. What did you learn from this experience?
  • Reflect on a book, film, or artwork that has had a profound impact on your life and how it influenced your perspective.

Harvard College Application Essay Prompts

  • Share a personal experience that has significantly influenced your intellectual and personal development. How has it shaped your aspirations?
  • Harvard is committed to innovation and research. Describe a problem or issue you are passionate about and how you hope to address it through research.
  • Discuss a moment when you faced adversity and how it led to personal growth and resilience.
  • Harvard values diversity and inclusion. How have your background and experiences contributed to these values, and how do you plan to further this mission?
  • Describe an extracurricular activity or community involvement that has had a profound impact on your life and the lives of others.
  • Harvard promotes ethical leadership. Share an example of a time when you had to make an ethical decision and the principles that guided your choice.
  • Reflect on a book, film, or piece of art that has inspired your intellectual curiosity and why.
  • Explain your interest in a particular academic field and how you plan to contribute to Harvard's academic community.
  • Discuss a global challenge that concerns you and how your education at Harvard will help you address it.
  • Share a personal story or anecdote that reflects your commitment to making a positive impact on the world.

Boston College Application Essay Prompts

  • Boston College emphasizes the value of a Jesuit education. How do you see your academic and personal goals aligning with these principles?
  • Discuss an experience that has shaped your commitment to service and community engagement. How do you plan to continue this commitment at Boston College?
  • Share a significant challenge you've faced and how it influenced your character and aspirations.
  • Describe a time when you collaborated with others to create positive change or address a pressing issue.
  • Boston College values intellectual curiosity. Reflect on a book, research project, or academic pursuit that has ignited your passion for learning.
  • Explain how you plan to contribute to the Boston College community, whether through academics, extracurriculars, or service.
  • Discuss a current global issue that concerns you and how your education at Boston College will empower you to address it.
  • Share a personal story that illustrates the importance of ethics and integrity in your life.
  • Reflect on a time when you had to adapt to a new and unfamiliar environment. What did you learn from this experience?
  • Describe an achievement that you're proud of and how it has influenced your personal and academic growth.

Virginia Tech College Application Essay Prompts

  • Virginia Tech values experiential learning. Describe a hands-on experience or project that has influenced your education and career goals.
  • Discuss an academic or personal challenge you've faced and the strategies you used to overcome it. What did you learn from this experience?
  • Share a story that illustrates your commitment to diversity and inclusion and how you plan to promote these values at Virginia Tech.
  • Virginia Tech is known for its commitment to technology and innovation. How do your interests align with this mission?
  • Describe a time when you had to lead a team to achieve a specific goal. What leadership qualities did you exhibit, and what was the outcome?
  • Explain how your future academic and career goals align with the resources and opportunities available at Virginia Tech.
  • Discuss a current issue in your community or society that concerns you, and how you plan to address it through your education.
  • Share an example of a personal passion or hobby and how it has enriched your life.
  • Reflect on a time when you had to collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds to solve a complex problem. What did you learn from this experience?
  • Describe an achievement that you're particularly proud of and why it matters to you.

UCF College Application Essay Prompts

  • UCF is committed to making a positive impact on the community. Share an experience that reflects your dedication to community service or volunteer work.
  • Discuss a time when you had to overcome a significant challenge, and how it has shaped your character and goals.
  • Share a story that illustrates your commitment to diversity and inclusion and how you plan to contribute to this mission at UCF.
  • UCF values innovation and creativity. Describe a project, idea, or endeavor that showcases your innovative thinking.
  • Reflect on a book, research project, or academic pursuit that has inspired your intellectual curiosity and why.
  • Explain your academic interests and how they align with the opportunities available at UCF.
  • Describe a time when you had to take the lead in a group project or organization. What leadership qualities did you exhibit, and what was the result?
  • Discuss a current issue in your community or the world that concerns you, and how you plan to address it through your education at UCF.
  • Share a personal story or experience that demonstrates your passion for a particular field or subject.
  • Reflect on a time when you collaborated with individuals from diverse backgrounds to achieve a common goal. What did you learn from this experience?

Williams College Application Essay Prompts

  • Williams College values academic excellence. Share an experience or accomplishment that reflects your dedication to your studies and intellectual growth.
  • Discuss a time when you were introduced to a new culture or community. How did it influence your perspective and enrich your life?
  • Share an example of a project or initiative you've been involved in that promotes social justice or positive change.
  • Reflect on a book, artwork, or academic work that has had a profound impact on your life and how it influenced your thinking.
  • Explain your interest in a particular field of study at Williams College and how you plan to contribute to the academic community.
  • Describe a time when you had to lead a team through a challenging situation. What leadership qualities did you exhibit, and what was the outcome?
  • Discuss a current global issue that concerns you and how you envision addressing it through your education at Williams.
  • Share a personal story that illustrates your commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship.
  • Reflect on a time when you collaborated with people from diverse backgrounds to achieve a common goal. What did you learn from this experience?
  • Williams College emphasizes the importance of building strong, supportive relationships. Share a story that exemplifies the significance of personal connections in your life.

Common Types of College Application Essay Prompts

When it comes to college application essays, it's not a one-size-fits-all game. Let's dive into the various types and how to conquer them.

Personal Statement Essays

Personal statement essays are an opportunity for applicants to share a story or aspect of their background, identity, talent, or experience that is deeply meaningful to them. These essays aim to give admissions officers insight into the applicant's unique qualities and perspective.

Common Prompts and Examples

  • Share a personal story that reflects a talent or aspect of your background you find meaningful.
  • Describe a challenge you've faced and the lessons learned that you believe are fundamental to your future success.
  • Narrate an experience that prompted you to question or challenge a deeply held belief or idea.
  • Reflect on an obstacle you encountered, recounting how it affected you and what you learned from overcoming it.
  • Discuss an accomplishment or realization that sparked personal growth and provided a new understanding of yourself.
  • Share a moment when someone's actions made you feel grateful in a surprising way and how that gratitude influenced your motivation.
  • Recount a time when you encountered a significant setback or failure and explain the impact it had on you.
  • Describe a talent or skill that is so meaningful to your identity that you believe your college application would be incomplete without mentioning it.
  • Share an essay on any topic of your choice, one that you've previously written or one that responds to a different prompt.
  • Reflect on a challenge you've faced, explaining how it contributed to your personal growth and success.
  • Narrate an experience from your background that has shaped your identity and influenced your aspirations.
  • Discuss an idea or concept that captivates you so deeply that you lose track of time when exploring it.
  • Describe a moment when you felt thankful for someone's unexpected kindness and how it the gratitude affected or motivated you.
  • Recount a situation where you had to overcome a significant obstacle and the valuable lessons you gained from it.
  • Reflect on a time when you questioned a belief or idea and how that questioning affected your perspective and actions.

Supplemental Essays 

Supplemental essays are additional essay questions posed by specific colleges or universities. These essays allow institutions to get to know applicants better and assess their fit with the school's values and culture.

Common Prompts

  • Explain why you are interested in attending this particular college or university.
  • Discuss how your academic and career goals align with the programs offered at this institution.
  • Describe how you will contribute to the campus community through your unique experiences or talents.
  • Explain why this college's location is significant to your educational journey.
  • Discuss a specific course or professor at this school that excites you and why.
  • Describe a club, organization, or extracurricular activity you hope to participate in and why.
  • Explain how the college's values and mission align with your own beliefs.
  • Discuss a recent news event or social issue and how it relates to your interest in this college.
  • Describe a personal connection or experience you have with this college's culture or traditions.
  • Explain how you plan to take advantage of study abroad opportunities or research programs at this institution.
  • Discuss any obstacles or challenges you foresee in your college journey and how you plan to overcome them.
  • Describe your ideal roommate and what qualities you value in a roommate relationship.
  • Explain how you plan to balance academics and extracurricular activities at this college.
  • Discuss a time when you demonstrated leadership and how you will continue to do so on this campus.
  • Describe a unique perspective or background you bring to the college community.

Diversity and Inclusion Essays

These essays prompt applicants to reflect on their experiences, perspectives, and actions related to diversity and inclusion. They encourage applicants to share how they have contributed to creating inclusive environments or how their

Examples of Diversity Essay Prompts

  • Share an experience that highlights your commitment to promoting diversity and inclusion.
  • Describe how your background has contributed to your unique perspective on diversity and inclusion.
  • Explain why diversity and inclusion are important to you and your educational journey.
  • Discuss a time when you actively worked towards creating a more inclusive environment.
  • Reflect on how your identity has shaped your views on diversity and inclusion.
  • Please share your story that illustrates your dedication to fostering diversity and inclusion in your community.
  • Describe a situation where you stood up against discrimination or bias, and what you learned from that experience.
  • Explain how you plan to promote diversity and inclusion on your college campus.
  • Discuss a book, movie, or event that influenced your understanding of diversity and inclusion.
  • Narrate an experience where you worked collaboratively with a diverse group of people to achieve a common goal.
  • Share your thoughts on the benefits of a diverse and inclusive learning environment.
  • Describe a time when you actively supported an underrepresented group.
  • Reflect on your experiences with individuals from different cultural backgrounds and what you've learned from those interactions.
  • Explain how you would contribute to the diversity of perspectives on a college campus.
  • Discuss a specific initiative or project you would like to undertake to promote diversity and inclusion in college.

Challenge or Adversity Essays

  • Challenge or adversity essays ask applicants to recount a significant challenge, setback, or failure they have faced. These essays invite applicants to reflect on the impact of these experiences and the lessons they have learned.

Sample Prompts

  • Narrate a time when you faced a significant challenge or adversity and how it changed you.
  • Describe an obstacle you overcame that was fundamental to later success and personal growth.
  • Reflect on a setback you encountered and how it taught you important life lessons.
  • Explain how facing challenges has shaped your character and resilience.
  • Share a story of a time when you persevered through adversity and achieved a meaningful goal.
  • Discuss how you navigate setbacks and failures, and what strategies you've developed to overcome them.
  • Describe a personal challenge that has had a profound impact on your life choices.
  • Narrate an experience that showcased your ability to adapt and thrive in the face of adversity.
  • Reflect on a time when you faced a difficult decision and how it influenced your path forward.
  • Explain how adversity has shaped your determination and drive to succeed.
  • Share a specific example of how you turned a setback into an opportunity for growth.
  • Discuss the role of resilience in your life and how you've cultivated it through challenges.
  • Describe a time when you supported someone else through a difficult situation and what you learned from the experience.
  • Reflect on the significance of embracing challenges as opportunities for personal development.
  • Explain how your experiences with adversity have prepared you for success in college and beyond.

Why This College Essays

Why this college essays require applicants to explain why they are interested in attending a particular college or university. These essays aim to assess an applicant's knowledge of the institution and its alignment with its values and offerings.

Common Prompts

  • Explain why this college's values and mission align with your own educational goals.
  • Discuss how the college's academic programs specifically match your interests and career aspirations.
  • Describe the unique opportunities and resources at this institution that excite you.
  • Explain how this college's location is advantageous for your academic and personal growth.
  • Share a story or experience that connects you to the college's culture or traditions.
  • Discuss a specific research opportunity or faculty member that aligns with your academic interests.
  • Describe how you see yourself contributing to the campus community and student life.
  • Explain how this college's commitment to diversity and inclusion resonates with you.
  • Discuss the college's extracurricular activities or clubs that you are eager to participate in.
  • Describe how the college's values align with your long-term career goals and values.
  • Explain why you believe this college is the perfect place for you to thrive academically.
  • Discuss how this college's alumni network and connections can benefit your future.
  • Share your enthusiasm for the college's campus and facilities.
  • Explain how your visit to the college or interactions with current students influenced your decision.
  • Reflect on the overall atmosphere and vibe of the college that draws you to it.

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The Role of College Application Essays

Ever wondered why colleges are so obsessed with those essays you have to write? Let's break it down.

  • What's the Big Deal?: College application essays are your chance to shine, to leap off the page, and tell the admissions team, "Hey, I'm more than just grades and test scores." They want to get to know the real you – your dreams, experiences, and what makes you tick.
  • A Personal Touch: These essays add a personal touch to your application. Think of them as your story, your voice, and your personality all rolled into one. It's where you go beyond the numbers and show the world what you're made of.
  • Assessing the Applicant: Admissions officers have a tough job. They need to sift through thousands of applications and find the right fit for their college. Your essay helps them see if you're the puzzle piece they've been searching for.
  • Beyond the Stats: Sure, your grades and test scores are important, but they only tell part of your story. Your essay lets you fill in the gaps. It's where you explain that one bad semester or how you overcame a major setback. It's your chance to shine even if your GPA doesn't.

Note: Using the proper college application essay format is crucial for making a favorable impression on admissions committees.

Examples of Successful College Application Essays

You've read about the importance of college application essays, but let's take it up a notch and dive into some examples that hit the bullseye. 
Now, let's explore how to kickstart your essay with these prompts:
1. The Humble Hero:

Imagine an essay that starts with, "I'm not a superhero, but that day, I felt like one." You're instantly hooked, right? This student shared an ordinary moment that turned extraordinary and showed how even the smallest acts of kindness can leave a lasting impact.

2. The Time Machine:

"Let's rewind to when I was seven years old." Time travel in an essay? Yes, please! This applicant whisked the reader away to their childhood, weaving in life lessons learned and personal growth over the years.

3. The Unconventional Hobbyist:

"Most kids played with LEGO, but I built bridges." Talk about a unique angle! This applicant turned their passion for engineering into a compelling narrative, showcasing their dedication and creativity.

4. The Vulnerable Explorer:

"I was lost, both in the wilderness and within myself." Ever felt that way? This student shared a raw and vulnerable account of a wilderness adventure gone awry, emphasizing how it led to self-discovery and newfound resilience.

5. The Curious Mind:

"From dissecting frogs to understanding the cosmos." Science geek or not, this essay took the reader on a journey of intellectual curiosity. It showcased a relentless pursuit of knowledge and an unwavering passion for learning.

6. The Unexpected Connection:

"My love for baking and quantum physics might seem unrelated, but they share a secret ingredient." This applicant masterfully connected two seemingly unrelated passions, revealing the surprising common ground and sparking curiosity.

If you are searching for more college application essay examples, check out our blog to get an idea.

In conclusion, these college admission essay prompts and ideas will help you begin writing your applications. But, first, give yourself enough time to outline the major points.
Furthermore, if you are searching for some college application essay examples, check out our blog to get an idea.

The college application process seems to be stressful, as well as overwhelming. The best way to stand out from the crowd is to boost an application with a strong essay. The above college essay prompts will help you choose the perfect one for your admission application.

On the other hand, if you want more unique college essay ideas, it is better to get help from our professional college admission essay writing service. MyPerfectWords.com is an online essay writing service with a team of essay experts. We guarantee top-quality application essays at affordable prices.

So get in touch with us today and get a common application essay in no time.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular common app essay prompt?

Here are the three most popular common app essay prompts.

  • Choose a topic of your choice.
  • Discuss an accomplishment.
  • Mentionsetback or failure.
 
Cathy A.

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Cathy A. (Literature, Marketing)

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

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