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5 Best College Application Essay Prompts

The college application essay is meant to include some introspection and reflection. Traditional prompts that have been used for decades are being phased out from many post-secondary institutions in favor of some new prompts that lean heavily on self-analysis.

Prompt #1) Identity.

Is there a story in your background that is a vital part of your identity? Would your application be incomplete if it wasn't included? This prompt can be based on a general or broad factor that affected your development, such as growing up in a musical family or living in a remote location. Or it could be based on some series of events that profoundly impacted your personal identity. This is a very inward-looking prompt so you must explain why and how it affected your identity.

Prompt #2) The experience of failure.

You may think that you should only write about your successes, but writing what you learned from failures or mistakes can be impressive as well as highlight your resiliency. Make sure to focus on what your response was to the failure. How did you grow from it? Honesty is the key to success with using this prompt.

Prompt #3) Challenging an idea.

Was there a time in your life when you challenged one of your own beliefs or someone else's idea? What are the difficulties of going against the flow, or working against the established status quo? What happened when you rejected a firmly held belief? Would you do the same thing again? What would you do in retrospection? Was the effort worth the risk? Did it change your personal core values? This prompt is a window that opens into your personality.

Prompt #4) Being perfectly content.

There are many ways to approach this question. Describe the place or situation where you would be perfectly content. What is the environment? Is it a place or a state of being - For example in the top of a tree, or meditating? This is a very introspective prompt and requires you to explain those things which you value. There must be an answer to the why question. Why are you most content there or doing that?

Prompt #5) Transition from childhood to adulthood.

What event or accomplishment marked your passage from child hood into adult hood? In other words, describe the road to maturity. How was it affected by your family, community, culture? Make sure you don't make it into a hero essay but rather use it to analyze your own personal growth.