Common College Application Essay Topics

Six hundred and fifty words are all that might be standing in the way of you getting into your dream university. Your application may be one among 800,000 applications that go out every year to colleges. No pressure at all! 

Essay questions are crafted in such a way as to learn more about you as an individual, the things the admissions officers may not know just going by your scores. So it is a good idea for you to start thinking, to move into introspective mode. Luckily, you have the time to prepare for the common college application essay.

We have scoured the web to compile a comprehensive list of the most common college application essay topics. This includes the personal statement essay prompts for 2016-17 that the folks at Commonapp have released, as well as any additional essay questions from colleges that you may come across.

Let’s start with the common college application essay topics for 2016-2017

Common College Application Essay Topics                                             Image Credit: College Degrees 360

  1. Some students have an identity, background, talent or interest, that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.
  1. The lessons we take from failure can be fundamental to later success. Recount an incident or time when you experienced failure. How did it affect you, and what did you learn from the experience?
  1. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  1. 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.
  1. Discuss an accomplishment or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adulthood within your culture, community, or family.

Moving on to some of the essay topics often used by colleges

  1. Describe a person you admire.
  1. Describe a character in fiction, a historical figure, or a creative work that has had an influence on you, and explain that influence.
  1. What is a book you love, and why?
  1. A topic of your choice.
  1. Why do you want to attend this school?
  1. Presuming there was only one open admission spot remaining, why should this college choose to accept your application and not that of another student?
  1. Choose one quotation that defines who you are and explain why.
  1. Describe some tasks that you have accomplished over the past two years that have no connection to academic studies. What made it meaningful to you?
  1. What is a place or environment where you are perfectly content?
  1. Evaluate a significant experience, achievement, the risk you have taken, or ethical dilemma you have faced and its impact on you.
  1. Discuss some issue of personal, local, national, or international concern and its importance to you.
  1. If you could be any animal in recorded history, what animal would you choose? Why?
  1. Describe an experience that illustrates what you would bring to the diversity in a college community, or an encounter that demonstrated the importance of diversity to you.
  1. Describe an experience where you were unsuccessful in achieving your goal. What lessons did you learn from this experience?
  1. Think back to a situation in your life where you had to decide between taking a risk and playing it safe. Which choice did you make? What was the outcome of your choice? Would you have made the same decision looking back on the experience or would you have made a different decision?
  1. If you had the chance to have a conversation with any person in human history (either living or deceased), who would be the person you choose? Why? What topics would you discuss with this person?
  1. What do you consider to be the most important political or social movement of the 20th century? Why?
  1. Describe an experience that forever changed your life and your outlook on life.
  1. Why have you chosen to spend the next four years of your life in college?
  1. What are your long-term goals in life?
  1. What do you consider to be the best advice you ever received? Who gave you that advice and did you follow that advice or not?
  1. How has the environment in which you’ve grown up molded you into the person you are today?
  1. According to you, which invention had the most negative impact on our world? Why?
  1. What do you value most about <any college> and why?
  1. What attracts you to the fields of study you’ve chosen?

What more?

The topics serve to jumpstart your thinking process and give you sufficient room for interpretation to present your unique story. Distil the questions to their core and you will see that most of them are looking to assess your strengths, values and self-awareness, and your ability to reflect and express your thoughts clearly. Who can do that better than you?