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College Application Essay Prompts to Get Help You Started

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Published on: Feb 24, 2021

Last updated on: Jul 20, 2023

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The ticking clock and blinking cursor on a blank document can be a dreaded sight for students tackling their college application essays. With so much at stake and fierce competition, the pressure to create a standout essay can feel overwhelming.

The solution lies in exploring a wide range of college application essay prompts. 

By considering a diverse selection of prompts, students can find the one that resonates most with their experiences and allows them to showcase their individuality. 

In this blog, we will explore over 50 college application essay prompts that cover a broad range of topics. Whether you're seeking inspiration or tips on tackling a specific prompt, this comprehensive list will help you find the perfect starting point. 

Let's dive in and discover the prompts that will unlock the door to your future success.

College Application Essay Prompt Definition

College app essay prompts are a statement that focuses on an issue. In certain common questions, it will be followed by another short prompt to stimulate creativity and thoughtfulness in the applicant.

The introduction should demonstrate you as a thoughtful, smart, and mature individual who has been through many hardships, but you still manage to stay upbeat in life. In addition, it will make an admission committee know the real person behind this application.

Moreover, the application must be free from mistakes written in impressive language. Also, ensure that you're using the right essay format for your college.

Remember, using the right prompts is what matters most. It shows that you are ready for an academic challenge!

The Objective of the College App Writing Prompts

Here are some major objectives of writing the college app writing prompts:

  • It provides a written reaction to an essay.
  • It demonstrates your capabilities to react to various prompts.
  • By researching the colleges to which you are applying, you can determine whether or not you will succeed in college.
  • It assists in introducing yourself as someone who is very deserving of an acceptance letter.
  • It is used to assess candidates' writing, reasoning, and analytical abilities.
  • Admissions officers must learn about you and your high school experience.

College Application Writing Prompts -2022

Here's a list of the common app prompts you can use in your college essay. We've also advised how to answer them correctly!

Prompt 1 - Discuss the faced challenges, setbacks, or failures that affected your personality.

You might think it's a risky move to admit that you've failed before, but no. Your tone of voice and words tells how much honesty means to you.

The honesty with which you admit your failures makes the application sound more authentic - don't be shy about what made those accomplishments possible.

It shows that you're not ashamed to admit that you've failed before. Discuss how it helped you learn consistency and commitment to do what is truly worthwhile!

Prompt 2 - Describe your background, identity, interest, or talent. Please share your story of life to tell who you are.

This application should highlight the unique perspective that sets you apart from others. Therefore, avoid writing about common topics such as talent or learning experience. These can sometimes feel flat when mentioned in every other student essay. Instead, choose something related to family or upbringing- it'll make a difference!

Prompt 3 - Discuss a time where you challenged a belief and your pre-existing worldview.

Mention your experience listening and engaging in challenging debates by showing that you are keen on learning from disagreements. This will indicate maturity and recognizing other perspectives regarding their thoughts/opinions.

Prompt 4 - Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding.

Tell the admission committee about your most unique and personal accomplishment. But it shouldn't be related to academics!

Prompt 5 - Write about a problem that you have and want to solve.

How would you like to solve a creative and topical problem? You can work on an issue like hunger or climate change. This writing will require some creativity, but it's worth doing.

It demonstrates your passions and interests in solving these issues by using your minds creatively.

Prompt 6 - Discuss the moments that show your shift from child to adult within the family or community.

Think back on the most significant event in your life or a turning point that changed everything for you. Did you make any choices that led directly into how things are now? Were there other factors involved as well - family background perhaps?

This essay will give you an insight into what matters and how you can overcome challenges with confidence.

Prompt 7 - Describe your most favorite book or movie where the main character has to make a difficult decision. Discuss what you think about their choice.

To make your essay more engaging, you should choose a good book or movie for this topic. Avoid using popular novels commonly read by people. Instead, try to select challenging and have personal meaning to work!

Prompt 8 - Write your top 10 list.

Try to be creative while addressing this prompt. Choose something you love and make a list of the top 10. It can be the memories of your life, favorite books, quotations, etc

Prompt 9 - Mention a thing that changed your mind.

Here, try to pick a specific thing that has changed your mind and opinion. Also, illustrate how a changed perspective has impacted your behavior.

Prompt 10 - Discuss the major goals of your life.

The question is not about what you want to accomplish but rather how. You can go beyond your academic goals and explain other life goals as well. 

Prompt 11 - Choose a quotation that describes your personality and explain why you connect with it.

Use your imagination and think of an interesting quote that perfectly fits you. Explain how you feel relatable with this quote. Connect it with the motivation for you to apply in the university.

Prompt 12 - Write about the most embarrassing moment of your life. Discuss your learning experience from it.

A writer can share a funny experience here. Such an encounter can be fundamental to later success. However, it should be transformed into a profound learning experience by discussing how it changed you.

Prompt 13 - Reflect on a time where you had an option to either take a risk or stay safe. Discuss what you choose.

This essay prompt explains whether you have made a right or a wrong decision. If it is the right one, discuss why you have taken it and how it has changed you. On the other hand, if it is a wrong decision, focus on how you would change it.

Prompt 14 - Write about something you are passionate about.

It is better to talk about something you love to make your essay sound perfect. Similarly, your passion will also shine through in your writing.

Prompt 15 - Choose a topic, idea, or concept you find so engaging and interesting.

It provides you an opportunity to choose and write an essay on the topic of your choice. Here, you can also use an essay already written for another college. Just focus on the word limit and quality of the writing piece.

Prompt 16 - Write about the best advice that you have ever got. Discuss whether or not you have followed it.

Find advice that is specific and personal to you. Then, discuss why it is important and when you have followed it.

Prompt 17 - Discuss the role of a specific activity in your life. It can include sports, theater, band, etc.

This writing prompt will provide you with an opportunity to showcase your passion and extracurricular activities. Make sure to connect the significance of the activity to an important experience of your life.

Prompt 18 - If you have a chance to meet a person, either living or dead, for an hour, who would you meet?

It is better to avoid mentioning personalities that many students commonly discuss. Instead, choose a figure that is unique and interests you the most. Similarly, if you choose a family member, make sure to have a logical and authentic reason.

Prompt 19 - If you are selected to give an important speech, what would it be about?

Choose a topic of interest in the speech. Ensure to write clear sentences that give a proper direction to your essay. Set a tone with your words that you are motivated to present in front of people. 

Prompt 20 - If you have to teach a class, which class would it be?

Try to choose a unique perspective in this essay and make sure you know a lot about it.Use specific language in the essay so that your target audience news that you have a good grasp on the subject. 

Prompt 21 - Tell us about a turning point in your life.

Think of a turning point in your life. For example, you can talk about an experience such as a job or an extracurricular activity. Also, explain what you have learned from it.

Prompt 22 - Write about a time when you questioned or challenged a belief. Also, discuss how you have to be brave and stand up for what you have believed in.

Here, you should talk about an important belief or idea. Then, write your essay about one experience, take a stance, and defend it.

Prompt 23 - Discuss something that makes you angry.

Answer this prompt by writing a funny essay or discussing major social issues.

Prompt 24 - If you would have allowed changing one day of your life, what would it be and why?

Here, you should think of an important day. If you can’t do it immediately, you might not have enough material for this essay.Explain the background of that day, and elaborate more for the readers to understand the scenario better. 

Prompt 25 - If you can time travel to any time or place, where would you go?

A writer can choose a historical or personal moment while writing such an application. Begin discussing its importance no matter what and your desire to experience it. Later on, describe your connection to it.

Prompt 26 - What advice can you give to a high school student?

Try to be positive while addressing such a prompt. Share your experience honestly and avoid complaining about the negative aspects of high school—instead, advise about helpful things that can benefit high school students in their careers.

Prompt 27 - If you can stop one invention from being invented, what would it be?

Discuss the reasons for choosing an invention. Explain why it has not created an impact on the world. Explain the pros and cons of the invention and why do you think its negative for the world?

Prompt 28 - Why do you want to attend this college?

Admission officers receive a large number of applications every day. Thus, mention unique and impressive aspects that explain why you are applying to a college.

Prompt 29 - Choose a Law and discuss why it is important to you.

You can interpret this prompt in many ways. For example, you can talk about physical law, political law, religious law, or anything else. Similarly, you can also intellectually challenge a research query or an ethical dilemma.

Prompt 30 - Describe one thing you want people to know about you.

Try to be specific and vulnerable in this application. For example, it can be a trait or a specific memory, and explain what it means to you. Moreover, you should also discuss why you don’t tell people about it.

Prompt 31 - If you can add an amendment to the constitution, what would it be?

Answer the prompt by ensuring the amendment you are adding is not already a part of the Constitution. Also, discuss its impacts and explain your strategy for getting it passed.

Prompt 32 - Describe a person in your life who has helped you understand yourself better.

Give a few examples of how a person has impacted you and your personality. Then, write about how these experiences helped you understand yourself better.

Prompt 33 - Mention a book that you would recommend to others.

Recommend a book you've read before. Give reasons for your recommendation. List all main characters, plot and summary of the book Give reasons for your recommendation. 

Prompt 34 - Tell us about someone you have spoken up for.

Answer this by discussing a moment where you have spoken up for someone who couldn’t speak for himself. Don’t make a fake story yourself if you do not have an authentic example.

Have you ever spoken up for someone else when they couldn't do it themselves? If yes, describe a story.

Prompt 35 - Discuss a specific goal you hope to achieve in college.

If you're passionate about the achievable goals, then go ahead and mention those in your college application essays.

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Prompt 36 - Describe a time when you had to overcome a significant obstacle or adversity.

Reflect on a challenging situation in your life where you faced a significant obstacle or adversity. Share how you approached the situation,and the lessons you learned from the experience.

Prompt 37 - Discuss a cultural tradition or heritage that is important to you and how it has shaped your identity.

Explore a cultural tradition or heritage that holds significance in your life. Explain why it is important to you, and the impact it has had on your perspective of the world.

Prompt 38 - Describe a volunteer or community service experience that has had a profound impact on you.

Share a volunteer or community service experience that deeply affected you. Explain the reasons behind your involvement, the impact it had on your personal growth, and how it shaped your understanding of the community around you.

Prompt 39 - Discuss a time when you collaborated with others to achieve a common goal.

Describe a situation where you worked collaboratively with others towards a shared objective. Explain the goal you were trying to achieve, the role you played in the collaboration, and the lessons you learned about teamwork and cooperation.

Prompt 40 - Write about a person who has been a significant mentor or role model in your life.

Describe a person who has had a profound influence on your life as a mentor or role model. Explain why this person is important to you, and what you have learned from them.

Prompt 41 - Discuss a personal value or belief that is important to you and why.

Identify a personal value or belief that holds great significance in your life. Explain why it is important to you, and how it has contributed to your personal development.

Prompt 42 - Describe an experience that sparked your interest in a particular field of study or career path.

Share an experience that ignited your passion or curiosity for a specific field of study or career. Explain the circumstances of the experience, and how it influenced your interests and aspirations.

Prompt 43 - Discuss a time when you had to adapt to a new or unfamiliar situation.

Reflect on a time when you found yourself in a new or unfamiliar situation and had to adapt. Explain the context of the situation, and how you navigated through the changes.

Prompt 44 - Write about a social issue or problem that you are passionate about addressing.

Choose a social issue or problem that you are deeply passionate about. Explain why it matters to you, how it has impacted the lives of others.

Prompt 45 - Describe a time when you had to make a difficult ethical decision.

Share a situation where you faced a challenging ethical dilemma. Describe the circumstances, and the reasoning behind your choice. Reflect on the consequences and lessons learned from the experience.

Prompt 46 - Discuss a time when you took on a leadership role and what you learned from the experience.

Describe a specific instance where you assumed a leadership position. Explain the context, your responsibilities, and the outcomes of your leadership. 

Prompt 47 - Write about a project or initiative you initiated or contributed to that had a positive impact.

Discuss a project or initiative that you either initiated or significantly contributed to, which had a positive impact. Explain the goals of the project, your role in its execution, and the outcomes or results achieved. 

Prompt 48 - Discuss a time when you had to step out of your comfort zone to achieve personal growth.

Describe a situation in which you had to push yourself outside of your comfort zone to pursue personal growth. Explain the steps you took to overcome your fears or reservations.

Prompt 49 - Write about a significant cultural, social, or political event that has shaped your perspective.

Reflect on a cultural, social, or political event that had a profound impact on your perspective. Explain the event itself and how it influenced your understanding of the world.

Prompt 50 - Discuss a time when you had to resolve a conflict or disagreement with someone.

Share a situation in which you faced a conflict or disagreement with someone and had to find a resolution. Explain the nature of the conflict and the steps you took to address it.

Tips to Choose Common Application Essay Prompts

Below are the tips for choosing an interesting prompt for common app essays.

  • Concentrate on a specific event that shaped you and embodied your personality.
  • Choose a topic that will help you stand out from the crowd.
  • Write about something that demonstrates both your good and bad qualities.
  • Choose a genuine and relatable topic that reflects your personality.
  • Consider and write about what you did as a child that influenced your present personality.
  • Lastly, write about what makes you, you.

In conclusion, when it comes to crafting a standout college application essay, the prompts provided offer a valuable opportunity to showcase your unique qualities and experiences. You can also make use of an essay writer to generate creative and unique prompts.

However, if you find yourself in need of expert guidance, consider Our trusted college admission essay writing service can provide the assistance you need to create a compelling and memorable essay. 

Unlock your potential and embark on the path to success with today’s top writing service.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most popular common app essay prompt?

Below are the three most popular common app essay prompts: 

  • Select a topic of your choice 
  • Mention an accomplishment 
  • Discus your failure or setback 
Barbara P


Barbara P (Management)

Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

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