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Common App Essay Topics

How to Choode Among Common App Essay Topics

How do you choose among the Common App Essay Topics?

If you have found your way to this page on the internet by searching for information on Common App Essay topics – welcome!

My name is Alan Stransman, and I am the founder of Common App Essay Tutor Dot Com.

There are more than 1000 searches every month in Google using the search term “common app essay topics”.

There are another 170 searches every month for the search term common application essay topics, and additional searches for common app essay choices, common app essay ideas and common app essay questions.

Despite the fact that many students refer to them as “topics”, “choices”, “questions” and “ideas” –  the Common Application organization refers to them as “prompts”.

The official term for what you see listed below is Common App Essay Prompts. (I have written an entire article on the 2015-2016 Common App Essay prompts which you can read here.)

I believe that they are called “prompts” for a reason – and that reason is that they are intended to prompt, inspire and stimulate your creativity.

An “essay prompt” is not a question to be answered or a topic to be written about.

It is a suggestion – a way of “jump-starting” your thought process, and that is how the essay prompts should be used.


The Subject of Your Common App Essay is You

The Common App Essay Prompts for 2015-2016 were published on Aug. 1, and this year’s prompts had some significant changes over last year’s prompts.

If you have not had a chance to review them yet, they are listed below:

Common App Essay Prompts 2015-2016

  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 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?
  3. Reflect on a time when you challenged a belief or idea. What prompted you to act? Would you make the same decision again?
  4. Describe a problem you 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 or event, formal or informal, that marked your transition from childhood to adult hood within your culture, community, or family.

Common App Personal Essay

Deciding Upon a Common App Essay Topic Can Be Hard

If you begin the process of writing your Common App Essay by reviewing the list of essay prompts, you might find that one of the prompts immediately jumps out at you and aligns perfectly with an incident or experience from your life which you can write about with impact.

However, you might also review the list of essay prompts and not find one that seems suitable – and go into “panic mode”.

Often, when a student contact me for help with his or her personal essay, it is because he or she is having trouble choosing among the essay prompts provided for the Common App Essay.

When that happens, the essay prompts are actually doing the opposite of what they are designed to do – that is, they are having an almost paralyzing affect, rather than stimulating thought and creativity.

Remember, the subject of your Common App Essay is you – and if you can identify and experience, incident, talent or characteristic – that is, virtually anything that has happened in your life and made an impact upon you – you have the basic subject matter for an effective Common App Essay.

For that reason, when I began working with a student on his or her Common App Essay, I always begin by trying to identify something that is unique about him or her, rather than by reviewing the essay prompts and trying to pick one.

The strongest subject matter for a Common App Essay or any form or personal essay is the most important or significant experience of your life. Once you have identified that, you can then go back to the list of essay prompts and find the one that most closely aligns with the story or experience that you wish to relate.

You might think of this process as a kind of “reverse engineering” of the Common App Essay topic – beginning with the subject matter that you wish to include and then working back from that to the actual essay prompt that most closely aligns with it.

You can then use the essay prompt to provide structure and definition to your essay topic.


The Common App Essay is a Very Difficult Essay to Write

Common App Essay Prompts

The 2015-2016 Common App Essay Prompts Can Be Challenging

Once again, if you have arrived at this article on the internet by searching for information about the 2015-2016 Common Application Essay Prompts, the most important “takeaway” that I would like you to get from this article is the reassurance that there is something in your life experience that will make for an effective essay – it is just a matter of identifying it.

You may find your topic by reviewing the essay prompts but you may not – sometimes, as I have stated above, you have to use your creativity to shape an incident or experience into one of the essay prompts.

Identifying what you wish to write about is only the first step in the process of writing an effective Common App essay.

The second step in the process is execution – and this is no simple task as the best Common App essays are written in the form of a compelling narrative.

If you have not done so already, I invite you to sign up for my FREE report on writing an effective Common App essay by completing the information on the drop-down box on this site of by clicking on the following link: http://www.commonappessaytips.info

You can also contact me at astransman@rogers.com for a FREE 15-minute consultation to discuss your Common App Essay – at any stage of the process.

Remember, the overwhelming majority of students struggle with their Common Application Essay, So you are not alone.

If I can help you in any way please don’t hesitate to contact me.














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