Popular College Essay Prompts

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Last year, after surveying 6,000 people, the organization tossed out the essay prompting students to describe the “place or environment where you are perfectly content.” "We want to make sure that every applicant can find a home within the essay prompts, and that they can use the prompts as a starting point to write an essay that is authentic and distinguishing," said Scott Anderson, the senior director for programs and partnerships for the Common App, which has more than 600 member colleges that students can reach with one application.

Nearly half of the college applicants who used the Common Application this year submitted an essay about their “background, identity, interest, or talent.” Only 4% of applicants using the Common App wanted to dig deep on the question of challenging a belief or idea.

The Common App organization announced that it will keep the same line-up of personal statement essay prompts in 2016-17 that it used this application season.

The Insider: College Admissions Advice from the Experts is where College Coach experts weigh in on the latest college admissions topics.

We cover everything from application timelines and strategies to tips on financing your child's education.


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