New Common App Essay Prompts for 2017-2018

Here we go again! This year's Common App essay prompts have been released, and since last cycle, three of the prompts have been revised slightly, in order to help students "see expanded opportunities for expressing themselves," according to The Common Application. You'll see the revisions below in italics. There are also two new prompts. The first asks students to share examples of their intellectual curiosity. The second invites students to submit an essay on a topic of their choice. That's right, the sky's the limit this year! Students, take a look at the prompts, and start brainstorming. If you need help coming up with an idea, please get in touch. I have a brainstorming exercise I take students through to arrive at something that will be meaningful to them while showcasing their strengths.

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. [No change]

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? [Revised]

3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? [Revised]

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. [No change]

5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. [Revised]

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? [New]

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. [New]

Looking for help with an essay? Contact me for a free consultation at or 646-526-0515.