The community essay prompt is one of my favorites. As mentioned in many of my blogs, US colleges and universities are looking at crafting a community and that’s exactly why colleges ask this question. They want to know how you see yourself as part of a community – any community. You do not necessarily have to be in a leadership role, but you could be. What matters is how you made the most of this ‘opportunity’ especially since being a part of a community depends a lot on your circumstance and admissions officers love it when genuinely value and appreciate being a part of a larger group of individuals.
Here’s what a couple of Community Essays for the 2021-22 cycle look like –
Brown’s culture fosters a community in which students challenge the ideas of others and have their ideas challenged in return, promoting a deeper and clearer understanding of the complex issues confronting society. This active engagement in dialogue is as present outside the classroom as it is in academic spaces. Tell us about a time you were challenged by a perspective that differed from your own. How did you respond? (200-250 words)
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
(a) Describe a peer you see as a community builder. What actions has that peer taken? How has their work made a difference in your life?
(b) If you could change one thing to better your community, what would it be? Why is it important and how would you contribute to this change? (200-250 words)
As you may have noticed that sometimes community essays can look very different and ask very different things. In this case, Brown’s community essay asks about a time when you demonstrated courage and open-mindedness by defending your own beliefs but also being open to those of others. This is also reminiscent of the Common App Prompt: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
It would be a good idea to select another CA Prompt if you are applying to Brown since you would not want to repeat the same anecdotes unless of course, you have two very different things to talk about for the main CAE and this supplemental prompt.
On the other hand, UNC Chapel Hill’s supplementals offer two chances to talk about being part of and contributing to a community.
The (a) option would like to know about the peer you admire and who has had a significant impact on your life. This peer could have been a leader of a club you joined or your academic mentor or even your sports captain or your reading partner. Whoever it is, the Admissions at UNC want to see how this peer made a difference in your school and perhaps, personal life. Through this, they would know the skills and values you care about and seek.
The (b) option is directly asking about the impact you wish to have. In which field would it be and why? This could or could not be directly related to the major you are applying for. For instance, if you are a music player, it could be about creating impact through music therapy even though you are applying for an English major. In a twist, this prompt could also work as a WHY THIS MAJOR prompt where you are talking about how you’d love to take forward your love for activism as a Political Science major.
So, what can YOUR Community Essay be about?
The Community Essay can be about any community that you are a part of, but it must be one that you feel strongly connected to. It could range from extended family to the football team you formed for less advantaged children.
Here are examples of what few students have explored –
Spending time with their family on a coffee plantation their grandparents own
Being part of the national swimming team
Volunteering at the local care center
Defying gender norms through a STEM Club at school
Key thing to remember about this essay is that this has to be a community you have been a part of or contributed to, for a while. In order for your essay to really stand out, the community you choose to talk about cannot be something the one you’ve just been a part of for a couple of days or weeks (for instance, your summer program community). At the same time, you do not have to be in a leadership role to qualify as being part of a community. You may just be a member – but – you need to be an active one.