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Common Application Essay Questions

If you’re soon to be applying to a new educational institution, to a new program, or for a scholarship, prepare to have some application essays on the horizon. While application essays can be time consuming, they’re not difficult. One reason they’re not difficult is because they’re fairly easy to prepare for. That’s because many application essay assignments use similar questions. Even if you don’t know your topics yet, brainstorming or writing some practice pieces on the following topics will help you prepare!


Describe a Failure or a Success You Have Experienced

These two go hand in hand, and are sometimes even present in the same assignment. Describing your failures or successes tell the reader quite a bit about you—not the least being what you define as a failure or a success. Try to get creative—don’t just tell about an exam you passed or an award you won, unless the journey you experienced in the process is intriguing. Choose a story which has an overall greater meaning in your life than what the event itself represents.


Describe a Hero or Mentor

Again, creativity is key! While many students will choose a common historical or religious figure, or a prominent figure like a parent, try something different. Think about choosing someone much younger or older than yourself, or an unexpected person to have learned a lesson from. These types of creative choices will not only interest your reader, they’ll inspire you to write a better essay.


Where do You See Yourself in X Years?

This topic asks you to consider your future. It may indicate a certain span of years in the future, or a certain landmark, like finishing college. It may center on a career choice, or some other life decision. In any case, once again—are you sensing a theme?—be creative! Don’t think just about how much money you want to make or where you want to live. Use this as an opportunity to really daydream!

Whatever you write about for your application essay, consider answers that are unique, and personal to yourself. Your writing should feel enthusiastic and authentic to your reader; genuine enthusiasm, energy, and motivation are what most acceptance committees are looking for in their applicants. And of course, take the time to organize your thoughts, proofread, and edit thoroughly, because you want your essay to be as professionally presented as possible.

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