Write your best Common App Essay: 2023-2024 Edition
Here is a dirty little secret: some of the 2023-2024 Common App essay prompts will bring you down like quicksand while others give you the exact structure and framing that you need to show and tell a story that colleges will love.
In the below thirty-minute in-depth video I grade and rank each of the seven Common App essay prompts in order to help you determine which will give you the best chance of positively differentiating your college application and thus getting you into the colleges on your list.
Sit back, relax (though be ready to take notes), and enjoy this insider’s guide tackling the most important essay assignment of your life so far!
The seven prompt options that first-year applicants have to carefully choose from in order to write one strong Common App essay of up to 650-words are as follows:
- 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.
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**Bonus**: Take my “How to Build an Extraordinary Extracurricular Resume” short course here.