Skip Nav

SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

College Application Essay: How to Begin Writing It

❶Read on to find out the common college application essay questions provided for the year. Any of these things could plausibly be the main, framing theme of your essay.

Beautifully Simple

Easy Customizable
College Application Essay Formatting Requirements
Choose Your Test

What will you do? What will happen when you get there? One helpful way to keep these topics separate in your mind is to create a big-picture category for each one: In other words, Topic A is asking about the impact of the world on you and how you handled that impact. On the other hand, Topic B is asking about your inner passions and how these define you. These very broad categories will help as you brainstorm ideas and life experiences you can use for your essay.

Although many of the stories you think of can be shaped to fit each of these prompts, think about what the experience most reveals about you. That time a spilled crate of stuffed frogs made you want to learn everything there is to know about French cooking? Now, I will do a thorough deconstruction of everything you need to know about Topic A, the first ApplyTexas essay prompt.

Describe your family, home, neighborhood or community, and explain how it has shaped you as a person. This prompt wants to see how your external environment shaped you. You can tell from the fact that the prompt is split up into two sentences that your essay answer will have two distinct, albeit interconnected, parts.

The first part of the prompt is about identifying and describing the overall environment in which you grew up. The prompt suggests using your family, home, neighborhood, or community to focus your essay. It should also be some aspect of your environment that has been or was a part of your life for a long time.

How did this particular aspect of your environment turn you into the person you are today? Readers are looking for two main things.

First, they want to see that you can be mature and thoughtful about your surroundings. Are you curious about the world around you? This can be accomplished in one of two ways: Basically, how did your environment turn you into a special, interesting person? For example, your family could describe your immediate family, your extended family, or a found family.

Your home could be the specific house or houses you grew up in, but it could also be your hometown, block, apartment building, or even country. Your neighborhood could be your street, subdivision, cul-de-sac; it could be an urban area or the rural countryside. When you consider what aspect of your environment to choose, think about significant things that happened to you in connection with your environment.

Again, this can be about how you overcame some aspect of your environment or how your environment positively fostered qualities or traits in you. You want to make sure you have a clear message that links your environment to one, two, or three special traits you have. Important adults in your life can help you brainstorm potential ideas. Like a good movie script, a college essay needs characters, some action, and a poignant but ultimately happy ending.

This way you can ensure your essay has the following features:. Did you feel ALL the feelings? Can you even name all of these feelings? For example, imagine Karima decides to describe how learning to navigate public transit at a young age made her resourceful and helped her explore the city she grew up in. She also discusses how exploring the city ultimately impacted her.

How should she frame her experience? Here are some options:. I was nervous about taking the El by myself for the first time. At the station, there were lots of commuters and adults who seemed impatient but confident.

At first, I was very afraid of getting lost, but over time I became as confident as those commuters. I felt a mixture of nerves and excitement walking up the Howard red line turnstile for the first time. What if I got lost on my way to the museum? I was worried that I would just seem like a nuisance to all of the frowning commuters who crowded the platform. If I needed help, would they help me?

Was I even brave enough to ask? When the metal doors opened, I pressed my nails into my palms and rushed in after a woman with a red briefcase. At least for the first step. I found a sideways-facing seat and clutched my macrame bag with my notebook and sketching supplies. A map hung above my seat. Pressing my finger to the colorful grid, I found my stop and counted how many I still had to go. I spent the entire train ride staring at that map, straining my ears for everything the conductor said.

Now, when I think about the first time I rode the El by myself, I smile. What seemed so scary at the time is just an everyday way to get around now. But I always look around on the platform to see if any nervous kids linger at the edges of the commuter crowds and offer them a smile. Both versions set up the same story, plot-wise, but the second makes the train ride and because of this, the author come alive through the addition of specific, individualizing details, such as the following:.

We combine world-class admissions counselors with our data-driven, proprietary admissions strategies. We know what kinds of students colleges want to admit. We want to get you admitted to your dream schools. Learn more about PrepScholar Admissions to maximize your chance of getting in.

Most students have an identity, an interest, or a talent that defines them in an essential way. At first glance, this prompt seems pretty vague. But if we dig a little deeper, we can see that there are actually two pretty specific things this question is asking. This prompts posits that "most students"—which likely includes you! For instance, are you an amazing knitter? Do you spend your free time researching cephalopods?

Are you a connoisseur of indie movies or mystery novels? Any of these things could plausibly be the main, framing theme of your essay. Essentially, you need to contextualize your defining trait within your broader personality and identity. This is where the "tell us about yourself" part comes in. What does your defining trait say about you as a person?

How does it fit into your overall personality, values, and dreams? Only deep in the woods could she explore her one true passion: College is a lot of work, and passion is an important driving force when things get busy. Thus, readers are looking for students who are really engaged in the world around them and excited about things! Colleges are looking for a developed sense of self.

Additionally, they are looking for students who can communicate messages about themselves in a clear, confident, and cohesive way. The challenge with this prompt is giving a complete picture of you as a person while still staying on message about your defining trait. You need to be focused yet comprehensive. First, you need to select that defining trait. It should also be something you can describe through stories and anecdotes.

On the other hand, a story about how you started a photography project that consists of portraits of redheads like you and what you learned about yourself from this experience is much more interesting.

Be careful to select something that presents you in a broadly positive light. Are you an adventurous daredevil who loves to take reasonable risks? Are you a nature lover with a taste for exploration? Do you love being part of a team? Select at least two or three positive messages you want to communicate about yourself in your essay about your key trait. Brody added his special brand of XYZ to everything he ever made for that bro-tisanal touch.

You want to show your own special qualities without seeming glib, staid, self-aggrandizing, or narcissistic. Alternatively, he could describe doing research on the complex gardens of royal palaces, planning his garden based on plant color and height, using the process of trial and error to see which plants would flourish, and getting so involved with this work that he often lost track of time. Are you a diamond in a world of hearts?

One approach to this prompt is to use your essay as a chance to describe your long-term goals for your career and life. For some students, this will be a straightforward endeavor. You could easily frame your "ticket" as a ticket to medical school. Just pick a few of the most gripping moments from these past experiences and discuss the overall trajectory of your interests and your essay would likely be a winner!

Read on for Option 2! While you can certainly interpret this as a straightforward question about your future, you can also use it as a chance to be more imaginative. Note that this entire question rests on the metaphor of the ticket. The ticket can be to anywhere; you decide. Or it could be somewhere fantastical, such as a time machine to the Paleolithic. Having driven, goal-oriented, and passionate students is a huge plus for any college.

Your essay is a chance to show off that knowledge and maturity. Here are some ideas for how to show that you have thoughtful and compelling visions of possible futures. Whichever one you choose, make sure that you choose a destination that is genuinely compelling to you. The last thing you want is to come off sounding bored or disingenuous. Another key point is to avoid overreaching or underreaching. Maybe what you really want is a ticket to the potato chip factory; however, this essay might not be the best place to elaborate on this imagined possibility.

While you can of course choose a whimsical location, you need to be able to ground it in a real vision of the kind of person you want to become. College admissions officers want to find students who are eager to learn. What will happen there? This is even more important if you go the creative route and are writing about an unusual location. Make sure you make the most of this chance to share real-life examples of your desirable qualities.

Which essay below conveys more about her potential as a student? My ticket is to Starfleet Academy. There, I would train to become part of the Command division so I could command a starship. Once I was captain of my own starship, I would explore the deepest reaches of space to interact with alien life and learn more about the universe.

So if I could have a ticket to anywhere, it would be to Starfleet Academy to train in the command division. I know I would make a superb command officer. My ten years of experience in hapkido have taught me discipline and how to think on my feet. Working as a hapkido instructor in my dojo the past two years has honed my leadership and teaching qualities, which are essential for any starship commander.

Additionally, I have the curiosity and sense of adventure necessary for a long career in the unknown reaches of space. Right now, I exercise my thirst for exploration through my photography blog.

Using my DSLR camera, I track down and photograph obscure and hidden places I find in my town, on family trips, and even on day trips to nearby cities. I carefully catalogue the locations so other people can follow in my footsteps. Documentation, after all, is another important part of exploring space in a starship. Both versions communicate the same things about the imagined destination, but the second essay does a much better job showing who Eleanor is as a person.

All we really learn from the first excerpt is that Eleanor must like Star Trek. We can also infer that she probably likes leadership, exploration, and adventure, since she wants to captain a starship. In the second essay, on the other hand, Eleanor clearly lays out the qualities that would make her a great Command officer, and provides examples of how she exemplifies these qualities. She ties the abstract destination to concrete things from her life such as hapkido and photography.

This provides a much more well-rounded picture of what Eleanor could bring to the student body and the school at large. Remember to tie your imaginative destination to concrete details about your special qualities! A future as a driving coach for motorcoach drivers was a no-brainer for the founding member of the homonym club. Personal interaction with objects, images and spaces can be so powerful as to change the way one thinks about particular issues or topics.

What did you do to act upon your new thinking and what have you done to prepare yourself for further study in this area? This essay topic is trying to ask as broadly as possible about an experience with art that has moved you in some way. This means that your options for answering the question are quite varied. So what are the two different parts of this prompt? Think of a time you experienced that blown-away feeling when looking at something man-made.

This is the reaction and situation the first part of the essay wants you to recreate. You can focus on a learning experience, which includes both classes and extracurricular activities, or you can focus on a direct experience in which you encountered an object or space without the mediation of a class or teacher.

You will need to provide an answer of not more than words when writing your essay to one of those prompts. You must also check however the college that you are applying to as many will also have supplementary essays or other information that you may be required to submit. The following are the current common app essay prompts:. Writing an effective essay is a difficult proposition, but it is vital that you are able to come up with something that is going to be different to what everyone else submits so that you stand out.

Our staff have been selected not only for their impressive writing skills but also their qualifications and knowledge of the application process. Working with us you get to work with a specialist that is:.

Working with us is as simple as completing the order form on our site. We will assign our expert to work with you and they will help you to put together a statement and prompt answer that will be totally unique to you and perfectly written.

We work with you until you are fully satisfied with the results making an unlimited number of revisions so that you can submit your application with confidence. Absolutely free of cost theme with amazing design and premium features which will impress your visitors Learn more.

Adaptive to any screen depending on the device being used to view the site Learn more.

What's Next?

Main Topics

Privacy Policy

Popular College Application Essay Topics (and How to Answer Them) Get help writing your college application essays. Find this year's Common App writing prompts and popular essay questions used by individual colleges.

Privacy FAQs

Need help with the Common App Essay prompts and questions? College Essay Advisors' founder Stacey Brook breaks down all you need to know about this year’s prompts. Common Application Essay Prompts: A Guide. Looking for help with the Common Application Essay? Below CEA’s Founder, Stacey Brook, breaks down all you.

About Our Ads

25 Creative College Essay Ideas and Prompts to submit along with your college application. To assist you in writing your best personal statement, colleges might provide creative college essay. Our Team Are Qualified to Help with College Admission Essay Prompts Writing an effective essay is a difficult proposition, but it is vital that you are able to come up with something that is going to be different to what everyone else submits so that you stand out.

Cookie Info

The 25 creative college essay prompts listed above should give you a starting point to write your own personal statement. The personal statement is used by most colleges to help them evaluate the type of person you are, which can help differentiate yourself from other applicants who have similar academic backgrounds to yours. College admissions officers read thousands of college application essays. These tips and strategies can help you make a strong impression. College admissions officers read thousands of college application essays. These tips and strategies can help you make a strong impression. Many students have been rejected for failing to take the prompt.