Common App Essay Prompts 2023-2024
At Ivy Central, we often tell our students that writing is an art. It improves with time. The students are encouraged to spend a part of their junior year and their summer as rising seniors to work on the common application essays 2023-24. The essay is a chance for the student to tell his or her story to the admissions officer in an interesting manner. Most importantly, students need to understand that they need to ‘ Be themselves’. Choose a topic that is close to your heart, or passionate about and focus on the content of the writing.
Writing the Common App essay prompts 2023-2024 is similar to sculpting a statue out of clay. While writing the essay, paint a vivid picture of your experiences, your passions, and your dreams for the future. The essay is not just a task that needs to be completed. It is an opportunity to create something beautiful and meaningful.
As college counselors, we guide students and help them brainstorm ideas to form their narratives. Before the students start writing their essay we have a session with the student and we ask them to reflect upon their achievements from a new perspective. They are asked to brainstorm their qualities and list some of the things they like to do. After the students have listed some interests. We further brainstorm and find out how they could delve deeper into their qualities to come up with a story of overcoming challenges. This is your chance to give the context of your story.
Some things to keep in mind before you start writing your common app essay prompts 2023-2024
The hook or the introduction of the essay should be very interesting. You want to catch the attention of the reader.
Avoid repeating the same points given on your resume or on your activities list.
It is not important for the topic to be unique. You should portray your story in a unique way.
While writing the essay, the students should consider the Thesaurus as their ally. After the first draft, the students are advised to go back and critique their essays and replace common words with a better vocabulary. It should be a balanced approach. The essay should not seem like a set of SAT words.
You should stick to your plan and avoid procrastination. Writing essays is a process that includes prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, and finally publishing.
Here is how you can approach the common app essay prompts 2023-2024
Prompt 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.
You should tell a compelling unique story while writing this prompt. Your background, identity, interest, or talent has played a significant role in your personal growth and development.
A common story would be to write your experiences of how you started a lemonade stand as a kid and how you want to pursue business. This is very common. Instead, you could write about how you organized a fundraiser in your community to support a small local business during the pandemic. This experience could make your story unique. Remember, it’s not about the activity itself, but how it has shaped you and your perspective.
Further breaking down the prompt –
Background: where you/your family come from and how that has shaped you
Identity: could be cultural, racial, ethnic, gender, sexual orientation
Interest: collecting coins from different countries
Talent: e.g. Calculating math problems within seconds without using a calculator
The key word here is ‘unique’. If it’s unique to you, write about it. The possibilities are endless.
Prompt 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?
While writing this prompt think about the obstacles and setbacks you faced in your life. These obstacles can provide valuable learning opportunities. Reflect on a specific challenge or failure you came across in life. What was the situation, and what made it difficult? How did you initially respond to the challenge? Focus on the lessons you learned from that experience. How did that experience shape your perspective or change your outlook? What skills or qualities did you develop as a result of the challenge?
Write this challenge in a positive way. The challenges you choose should not be very simple or overachieving. They should be something that you faced in life like losing someone or your parent’s divorce. Use specific examples and use descriptive language to illustrate your point. Reflect on how this incident prepared you for your future success. How will you use these lessons to overcome future challenges and achieve your goals? Don’t write this as a sob story. Write this prompt in a positive way.
Prompt 3: Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
You should write this essay if you want to focus on something that is morally/ethically meaningful to you and you’ve demonstrated that through your actions. Avoid writing a series of anecdotes and demonstrate how your actions have been meaningful and purposeful.
Have you questioned or challenged any beliefs or ideas in life? What was the belief or idea? Why did you start thinking critically about it? Focus on the thought process that made you question the belief or idea.
For instance, are you a trans* activist or someone who challenges the notion of gender binary in a strict culture? Reflect on the outcome of your questioning or challenge. Did it change your beliefs or perspectives? Did it lead to new insights? How has this experience influenced your thinking?
Prompt 4: 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?
Showing gratitude can be the most humbling experience in your life. Focus on the reminder that even in the midst of difficult times, we can find hope in unexpected places. Has the sense of gratitude inspired you to pay it forward in your community? Has the sense of gratitude motivated you to be a source of kindness and compassion for others in your life?
Think about a meaningful incident or experience where someone did something for you that made you happy. It could be a grand act or something really small. Give examples of the incident and how it affected you. Reflect and write about what you learned from this experience. How has this experience changed your perspective on life?
Prompt 5: Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
Focus on personal growth. Think about the experiences that have challenged you or made you think deeply about yourself. Have these moments changed your perspective, or have they inspired you to pursue a certain path in life?
Reflect on the aspects that have contributed to your personal growth. Consider the moments that led to your transformation. Write about the key lessons you have learned along the way.
An example of transformation could be when you decided to travel solo for the first time. How did you push yourself out of your comfort zone in order to grow? How you discovered a newfound sense of confidence and independence over the course of that trip.
You could talk about the importance of resilience, your setbacks and failures and how you bounced back from this experience. Some other aspects you could focus on are determination, grit, and perseverance through your difficult time to achieve your goals. These factors would help you enhance your essay and talk about the person you have become today.
Prompt 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?
Select a subject that truly captivates you. This can be anything from a hobby, a social issue, a historical event, or a scientific concept. Describe why that subject is fascinating to you. Give specific examples to show your passion for the topic.
How did you explore this subject beyond your high school curriculum? This could include your personal experiences, the research you have conducted, or conversations with experts in the field.
How did your passionate journey help you develop new skills or spark a new interest?
Don’t forget to include the resources you used to enhance your knowledge. These could include books, podcasts, classes, or mentors. You should also consider discussing how you plan to continue exploring and engaging with the topic in the future.
Prompt 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.
This prompt ensures that applicants do not feel restricted while telling their story to the Admissions Committee. Your essay could focus on a particular book or movie and how it helped you overcome a difficult period in your life. You could also write about how you overcame the fear of public speaking and gained confidence in yourself to pursue new opportunities.
Finally, remember that your essay is an opportunity to represent yourself from a unique perspective. It is also a way to exhibit your writing skills. Pay attention to the structure and flow of your essay. Ensure to proofread carefully for grammar and spelling errors.
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