The 2017-2018 college admissions journey has officially begun, and with it comes several changes to The Common Application essay prompts. Although the maximum word count still holds at 650, you will find two new prompts and three revised prompts from last year.

The key to essay success is still creating engaging, error-free writing infused with a strong voice, perspective, personality, and personal growth. This season’s prompts focus even more intently on critical thinking and analysis, so colleges get a glimpse of the applicant’s thought process, plans for action, ability to learn from the past, dedication to progress, and higher-order thinking skills.

2017-2018 The 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. (existing prompt with no changes)
  1. 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? (existing prompt with changes in bold type)
  1. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome? (existing prompt with changes in bold type)
  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. (existing prompt with no changes)
  1. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others. (existing prompt with changes in bold type)
  1. 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 prompt)
  1. 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 prompt that allows the option to use a college admission essay written for another application aside from The Common Application)

When working with students through the doctoral level, All About Writing carefully analyzes each essay prompt in alignment with the student’s perspective and story, then critiques the student’s draft to revise organization, format, and content. We assist with adding content to “flesh out” a story with relevant details or removing content to adhere to the word count. A thorough proofreading of grammar, usage, and punctuation completes the process once all content is in place. Due to academic integrity, we will not write students’ essays.

Often, students get caught up in telling the story rather than elaborating on its future impact and lesson learned. The student should focus on expressing the personal growth, wisdom, and evolution the story sparked and how, as an individual with a unique perspective, he/she will move forward toward future aspirations as adults, learners, and change agents in society. Thoughtful reflection and analysis are key.

Be sure to check out our previous blogs under “Academic Writing and School Admission Essays” for general pointers with college application essays, whether you are writing for a college’s own application essay prompts or The Common Application.

All About Writing’s in-person and remote application essay consultations deliver strategies based on decades of experience and expertise in academic writing and admissions essays. We have provided essay assistance for a range of students, including undergraduate, doctoral, medical school, dental school, and fellowship candidates.

All About Writing is here to assist with the entire college application essay process, from brainstorming your ideas through proofreading your final copy. Visit our website’s “Academic Writing and College Application Essays” page for information on these specific services.

Learn more about All About Writing, Howell, NJ and owner Christa Riddle at Remember, with All About Writing, writing help is just a call or click away!

Call us today to make life a bit easier… for students and parents alike!

-by Christa Riddle


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