Review and discuss these topics with your teen before they begin writing. 

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If you have a student applying to college in fall 2021/winter 2022, together you’ll want to take a look at the essay prompts below for both the Common Application and the Coalition Application.  Remember, the application essay serves as a way to tell the admissions office something about you that’s not already included on the rest of your application. I explain to my clients that the essay is a chance to share what you would like a college to know about you. Sometimes it helps to outline responses to more than one prompt to determine which one you have the most material for. The key is to take the time to prepare before writing. Also, realize that one essay will do. A Common App essay can fit a prompt for the Coalition App and vice versa.  

Common App essay prompts for 2021-2021

Word count: up to 650

  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 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?
  3. Reflect on a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. What prompted your thinking? What was the outcome?
  4. Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
  5. Discuss an accomplishment, event, or realization that sparked a period of personal growth and a new understanding of yourself or others.
  6. 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?
  7. 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.

Coalition App Essay Prompts for 2021-2022

Word count: 500-650 

  1. Tell a story from your life, describing an experience that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it.
  2. Describe a time when you made a meaningful contribution to others in which the greater good was your focus. Discuss the challenges and rewards of making your contribution.
  3. Has there been a time when you’ve had a long-cherished or accepted belief challenged? How did you respond? How did the challenge affect your beliefs?
  4. What is the hardest part of being a student now? What’s the best part? What advice would you give a younger sibling or friend (assuming they would listen to you)?
  5. Submit an essay on a topic of your choice. 

To learn more about how you can help your teen with their essay without writing it for them (a definite no no), read this post too.