College application essay topics

2017-2018 Common Application Essay Prompts

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve. It can be an intellectual challenge, a research query, an ethical dilemma - anything that is of personal importance, no matter the scale. Explain its significance to you and what steps you took or could be taken to identify a solution. 
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. 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? 
  7. 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. 

Other College Application Essay topics


  1. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.


  1. Describe a personal struggle.


  1. Write about three objects that will give the admissions office insight about you.


  1. How has the place in which you live influenced the person you are?  Define place anyway you like--a context, country, city, community, house, point in time...


  1. If you were given time and resources to develop one particular skill, talent, or area of expertise, what would you choose and why?


  1. Indicate a person who has had a significant influence on you, and describe that influence.


  1. Cite a meaningful first experience and explain its impact on you.


  1. Select a creative work -- a novel, film, musical piece, painting -- that has influenced the way you view the world and the way you view yourself.  Discuss the impact the work had on you.


  1. Write a random page from your autobiography.