These topics are general and can be written about from anyone’s experience.
For example: “Think about a time when you questioned or challenged a belief or idea. Give an example.” Be precise in your response, and don’t veer off topic or ramble.
In this regard, the admissions office will also get a feel for your personality.
When using the Common Application, there will be something specific to answer in your essay.
The admission essay isn’t terribly time consuming, but you want to not be rushed.
Write the draft of the essay, and give yourself time to reflect on it.
This time of reflection and thinking about the essay can be the most rewarding. Put something on the page early, and think it over, and make changes without pressure of finishing under an impending deadline.
When you brainstorm, you let the subconscious mind give its ideas free rein, and unrestricted liberty of expression.
Write down these ideas as they come, so that you can have a record of them, and also so that you can move on to the next idea once the current idea is written.
Once the brainstorm is over, categorize the things you’ve written down, into potentially good ideas to develop.