College Application Essay Tip: Don’t Sweat the Prompt

I get it, the college application essay can be a scary and overwhelming venture. It is arguably the most important you will ever write. No pressure kids.stressed-student

When addressing the idea of writing an essay that could shape their future, most of my students do the following:

  1. 1. Attest that their lives are boring and they have nothing interesting to offer the world.
  2. 2. Yell that none of the essay prompts pertain to them
  3. 3. Assume they will never ever get into college and consider things like rodeo clowning and becoming a professional plasma donor.
  4. Hyperventilate, sweat, and/or cry
  5. Decide they will start the essay tomorrow and log into Netflix.

The problem I find is that students spend valuable time lamenting  over the language and demands of the prompt that they are defeated before they ever put pen to paper.

My advice is not to sweat the language of the prompts.  In fact, the common app prompts are very pliable.  Don’t get boxed in by the prompts. The common app prompts encourage you to tell a story…a story that only you can tell.

Spend time early in the application process excavating your own life and brainstorming story ideas instead of fretting over the prompts.


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