Popular Application Essay Topics | Apply | The Princeton Review

This is a hard question because an effective college application essays needs to accomplish several goals, and different parts have separate roles. First, the essay must engage the reader at the start, so it’s imperative that the introduction is compelling. Second, the essay must reveal something unique about the writer, so it must have a sharp focus and share something about the writer’s personality. Third, the essay needs to show the writer’s character, so it needs to express their values, how they learn and what they care about. The best way to do all three is to share a personal experience and then explain what it meant to you.

questions for the Common Application are available on the Essay Topics page.
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A question about having your beliefs challenged demands a great deal of introspection off the bat—and this kind of disarming honesty can make an essay incredibly sincere and compelling. Your willingness to examine your beliefs, whether they were taught to you by your parents, pursued through your own active interest, or simply absorbed as you went about your daily life, can convey a level of maturity and curiosity that is hugely valuable in the college environment. And the range of beliefs that can be challenged is as wide as you make it. Maybe a particularly adventurous meal you had while abroad in China made you reassess the boundaries you believed dictated your taste in food. You can discuss a belief that has been long cherished or simply accepted, which means you can discuss something that has been a part of the fabric of your values based on passionate feelings OR societal norms. When brainstorming topics for this question, keep in mind that staying away from controversial subjects like politics is probably a good idea. You never know who will pick up your application, and you don’t want personal bias about hot button issues getting in the way of a fair assessment of your passion and qualifications.


Guide to the 2017-18 Common Application Essay Prompts

The Common App also centralizes all the pieces of your applications—essays, supplemental questions, recommendations, deadlines—all in one place.
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The primary focus of your college interest essay should be what you intend to study at Cornell. In the online Common Application Writing Supplement, please respond to the essay question below (maximum of 650 words) that corresponds to the undergraduate college or school to which you are applying.