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The Common App Essay Prompts & Examples

Do you need help making sure you submit your application before the 2020 – 2020 Common App deadline? This guide is your road map –we’ve taken out all the guesswork so you can focus on your common app essay.

Applying to all of the colleges on your list has never been easier; this is where your college adventure begins.

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the common app essay

Help and guide

This guide will help you to better understand the Common App (CA) essay prompts.

With our help, you’re better prepared to navigate your common application process and avoid unexpected obstacles that may lead to confusion or delays.

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We are right here to assist you in connecting with all of your top college picks in a way that is meaningful to each of them.

If you’ve got a unique situation and our guide doesn’t cover exactly what you’re looking for, let us know via our contact form for one-on-one support.

Important Facts about the Questions

It is reported that their 2020 – 2020 personal statement essay prompts are to be the exact same once again for the 2020 – 2020 school year.

What is the most common prompt? Glad you asked. Of over 800,000 applicants from the 2020 – 2020 cycle who completed their own application, 47% had decided to tie their essay to their own cultural background, aspects of their unique identity, their hobbies, skills, or interests and talents.

22% of the same group decided to write about a specific accomplishment, 17% described lessons learned from mistakes made, 10% about how a problem had been solved, and 4% of all applicants wrote about an idea which had been challenged.

specific accomplishment most common answer

Benefits of this Guide

The content of this guide contains everything you need to know about the Common App, and its advantages.

Whether this is your first time using our website, or this ain’t your first rodeo; you can count on the following benefits:

One to Many: Gain a competitive advantage and efficiently reach many institutions with one point of contact –few other systems are able to parallel the diversity of those offered with the CA.
Smart use of your time: Time-poor, busy, (frazzled?) people save a lot of time submitting applications through the CA, as opposed to individually and manually.
Customized Reminders: View application progress, get alerted when dates and appointments are coming up to ensure you never miss a beat.
Simple Rec Management: The CA is the by far the most time-efficient and reliable way for all involved to collaborate and manage the application process.’
“The thought of applying for college was incredibly stressful; the Common App sorted everything out with one application to just about every college I had on my list. And I won’t lie –the notifications were an unexpected surprise that totally prevented me from missing a few deadlines I’d forgotten about.”

– Ben Davis,Alaska Pacific University, Alumni

Example Prompts 2020 – 2020

Essay prompts include a pretty wide spread of possibilities, and we’re sure that once you better understand your options you’ll have an easier time allowing your mind to ruminate about your response and get on with it in time for the common app deadline.

1. Background, hobby, personal identity, or skill

This prompt is for those folks who have something remarkable; stories, abilities, interests and cultural diversity –and with a 47% dominance over all the other prompts, perhaps there’s good reason for that. This one gives the writer a lot of options when it comes to molding their own chosen subject matter around the requirement of the essay prompt.

In order to prepare for this essay prompt, take your time to feel out what events helped to shape your life and made you who you are today. The idea is to express a narrative that is 110% authentically you.

You’ll have to choose subject matter that you don’t mind explaining away at length, along with how it formed the core of who you are.

Go as deep or as uncomplicated as you like; maybe for you it’s all about how learning a skill taught you patience that resulted in better grades. Maybe you learned to draw and then you stopped feeling overwhelmed by life.

Chew on it, in either case. Good essays don’t get written in a day.

2. Lessons learned from failure

I once heard someone say “fail faster” and I loved it. If it doesn’t kill you, you learn what not to do, every time.

Ask yourself what sort of failures shaped the person you are today; what role did failure play in your life? How did it affect you and what did you take away from the experience?

Whatever you do, try not to come off trite; choose subject matter that truly conveys a little bit of the “hero story”. What did you learn from it, and how did you apply it to your life?

3. Challenging Widely Held Beliefs

Take a moment to recall a time where you challenged a widely accepted view, idea, or belief. And then ask yourself why –what was the catalyst that made you go rogue? Would you repeat it?

In order to conjure up a few Common App essay examples, probe yourself with these questions:

Describe a time when your opinion clashed with others; how far did it go? Slight embarrassment or blatant public discourse?
Why is it important that others understand your perspective?
What are you trying to accomplish?
What’s in it for everybody else?

4. Problem Solving

Is there a problem that’s begging to be solved, or perhaps you’ve already sleuthed out the solution to a noteworthy problem and you’ve got a lot to say on the subject –describe it. It might be an activist cause, a moral dilemma, or a psychological challenge.

Whatever the case, create a clear picture of its personal importance and what you did, or would do, to solve the problem.

5. Accomplishment

For this final essay prompt for the Common App, inspiration can come from a formal accomplishment, or a point in your life that marked your transition into adulthood.

Think of those moments in your life where you fundamentally grew as an individual, or a time where you learned a particular skill that made you feel like an adult. Some moments may include obtaining your driver’s license, or something really unique that you learned from one of your peers that changed everything.

For any subject matter you decide to run with, be sure to focus on transitional memories; events or accomplishments that helped you better understand the world around you.

In Summary

All it takes is some thoughtful reflection and a little bit of hard work for any young student to find their voice and write a compelling response to one of these Common App essay prompts.

The admissions department is looking for a peek into who you are and what drives you, so they might better understand how you will gel in the classroom. These essay prompts will give them an idea of what sort of attitude you bring to the table.

If there’s anything we haven’t covered here that you need addressed, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. If you have anything to add, please let us know in the comments!

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