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MAR 11, 2020 • 4 min read
If you ask most students which part of the Common Application process they find the most challenging, the great majority will probably answer the Common App’s personal essay.
The good news is that this year, the Common App have released their essay prompts early. This means applicants in the 2019-2020 admissions round have more time to consider the different prompts offered and brainstorm ideas for their preferred options.
But first things first!
The decision-makers at the Common Application, after conducting a thorough review of last year’s questions, have decided to change…not much! This is good news for students, parents and other stakeholders including admissions officers who have a greater breadth of reference when considering each applicant’s personal voice.
As for the 2019-2020 prompts themselves, as in previous years there are seven to choose from:
Of course, there is no right choice when it comes to selecting the essay prompt best for you, as each student brings their own personal experiences and creativity to what many admissions officers describe as the most insightful element of the common application process.
The main thing to remember is, that the essays are titled ‘personal’ for a reason, -just as Crimson Education essay mentors will attest - the key to writing an essay that stands out above the rest is perfecting a piece that reflects who you are and where you see yourself in the future.
That being said, you may like to know exactly which prompts students from the 2018/2019 admissions round preferred?
Perhaps surprisingly, the most popular prompt was prompt #7, the ‘topic of your own choice’ essay. This prompt was chosen by almost a quarter of all applicants (24.1%), while prompt #5, the ‘discuss an accomplishment’ option, was the second most popular at 23.1% and prompt #2 the ‘obstacles and challenges’ came in a close third (21.1%). While these three essay options accounted for close to 70% of all applicant’s choices, this does not mean the other prompts should be disregarded.
In fact, every student should choose the option which best speaks to their own personal voice.
Time and time again admissions officer have spoken about the importance of the authenticity of your personal voice (see Yale admissions officer advice here), which is why Crimson’s essay mentors work endlessly with their students to help them find and perfect their individual expression.
As Crimson student and recent Duke University admit Allie Brice expresses:
“My essay mentor was so incredible. She was right in there helping me but she also maintained this slight distance from the whole process - as she wanted to make sure the statement was ‘me’. She helped me formulate ideas but she didn’t rewrite my essay. She respected my story, as she didn’t want me to be lost as the applicant, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful.”