THINK NARRATIVE/CREATIVE NONFICTION 
FACTUAL MATERIAL PRESENTED IN A CREATIVE WAY

BRAINSTORMING IDEAS: 2017-2018 COMMON APPLICATION PROMPTS

here's your chance to tell admissions counselors something about yourself that they would otherwise never know.  if something appears elsewhere on your application, it should only be mentioned in your essay briefly and should not be the focus.  Think hard, dig deep, talk to friends and family.  below is a very basic springboard. the possibilities begin and end with you. 

1. Meaningful background, identity, interest, or talent:

  • family: religion, culture, ethnicity

  • passion: sports, music, arts, community service

  • triumph: physical, emotional, educational

2. Lessons from failure:

  • resilience

  • overcoming obstacles

  • epiphany/realization/deeper, greater understanding and appreciation

  • sources of inspiration: internal/external

    • external: teacher, coach, parent, peer...

3. Challenged a belief or idea:

  • school (social, educational)

  • family (social, religious)

  • government (political, ethical, legal, economic)

  • philosophy (accepted ideas by any of the above)

  • results

    • completed

    • ongoing

4. Describe a problem you've solved or a problem you'd like to solve:

  • personal (for yourself, your family, a friend, a wrong you have righted)

  • local (community, school)

  • global (political, environmental, economic)

  • religious

  • environmental (local, global)

  • legal

5. Accomplishment or event, formal or informal:

  • Have you organized a fundraiser or any event that benefited your community, school, religious organization, political party?

  • Have you achieved a goal or completed a rite of passage that has special significance for your family, community, religion or culture?

  • Have you organized and/or won a sports tournament or championship? An art or music competition?

  • Did you help put in place an idea or system that benefited others?

  • Is there an accomplishment so individual/personal that it would be hard to put into a category?

6. Captivating idea, topic or concept:

  • Do you have a passion? (Something beyond a hobby)
    How do you pursue it?
    Is it for personal growth, or for the betterment of the community (local, national, global)

  • Do you have a mentor?

7. Topic of your choice:

  • This is great if you have something you really want to write about that doesn't fit any of the other 6 choices. Give some thought as to WHY you want to write about the topic.  This will not only guide your writing but may be helpful if you are asked to provide the prompt. No one is sure what this will look like until the Common App opens on August 1.