This is a process we call the Backwards Brainstorm, and you can learn more about it here.For now, the main point we want you to take away is this: The prompts don’t really matter. (And that you floss at least every other day—trust us, it will pay off in the long run.) We are as sure as ever that every single one of you has a valuable story (or two or twelve! All it takes is ample time for reflection and a little writerly elbow grease to find it.So take a peek at what the 2019-20 application has in store for you, absorb what these prompts are really asking, and then forget about them (really! The Common App’s Prompt #1 is the Old Faithful of essay questions.
Hello, students and parents of the future class of 2024! The Common App essay prompts for 2019-20 have been released and—spoiler alert—they’re exactly the same as last year’s!
In 2017 the Common App added two new prompts to the pile, one of which was a return to the much-beloved “topic of your choice.” (Cue the confetti!
Remember, these essays are not contemplative musings on your toughest times or reflections on the hiccups that populate everyday life (though these things can certainly be touched upon); they are about overcoming obstacles and refusing to submit to life’s greatest challenges. This prompt requires a student to speak passionately about beliefs and ideology, which are often onerous subjects that can be difficult to mold into compact stories.
It can be one of the hardest questions to steer in a positive, productive direction without traveling into preachy, overly didactic territory.
It has historically served as a fabulous catch-all for subjects that don’t fit within the confines of the other prompt options.
A recent addition to the Common App’s prompt selection now offers even more freedom to applicants (more on that later), but students should still think of Prompt #1 as a topic of immense choice, reeled in by a few helpful guidelines.
We have always believed that essays about overcoming obstacles are most effective when they focus more on solutions than problems.
Accordingly, Prompt #2 essays should be predominantly filled with a student’s response, outlook, and demeanor when presented with one of life’s many hurdles, rather than a detailed account of the hurdle itself.
This question is similar to Prompt #2 in that it is meant to tease out a student’s problem-solving skills and provide a glimpse into an applicant’s frame of mind when dealing with challenges.
It also provides a few bonus opportunities for creative expression, leaving both the scale and the time frame for setting up a problem/solution wide open.